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Spy chief: Dutch citizens fighting in Syria

Published: February 8, 2013
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Source: TOI/AP

Dozens of Dutch citizens are fighting with rebels in Syria and could return home battle-hardened, traumatized and even further radicalized, the chief of the Netherlands’ top intelligence agency has warned.

In a rare interview with Dutch television aired late Thursday, Rob Bertholee, head of the General Intelligence and Security Service, said the number of Dutch nationals heading to Syria is growing fast and he is concerned about their return home after fighting with radical Islamic rebels in the civil war.

“In my view that is very worrying because of the combat experience they acquire, the ideological convictions and the fact that they could become traumatized there,” Bertholee told Dutch current affairs show Nieuwsuur.

There have been no terror attacks in the Netherlands for years, but authorities have warned of the growing risk of Muslims going overseas to fight for their faith and then returning home.

A terrorism expert said Friday that images of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brutal crackdown on rebels is drawing fighters from not only the Netherlands but across Europe.

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