The imprisoned Dutch terrorism suspect Jason Walters said in an open letter that he has renounced Islamic radicalism.
“The ideals that I once honored have been lost and I have come to realize that they are morally bankrupt,” Walters said in what he called a “review document” written from the maximum-security prison in Vught. It was published recently in the Dutch daily De Volkskrant.
Walters is a leading member of the jihadist Hofstadgroep, made up of Islamists primarily of Moroccan origin. The group was led by Mohammed Bouyeri, who is serving a life sentence for killing controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004.
Observers said Walters’ letter offered a window into the mind of a man who had dedicated his life to propagating militant Islam through violence. It helped to understand why some adopt terrorism and what prompts them to reconsider.
Walters’ review could also inform the increasingly partisan immigration debate in Germany and other European nations about how to prevent the radicalization of immigrant youth and help them become functioning members of society.
…”The image that the world only exists of believers and infidels, in which the latter are motivated only to destroy the former, is a childish and coarse simplification of reality,” Walters said. “It ignores the complexity and many nuances of which reality is rich.”
Analysts and counter-terrorism authorities say Walters’ letter is likely to spark debate in militant Islamist circles and serve as an important tool in efforts to counter jihadists in Europe. In a statement, the Dutch National Coordinator for Counterterrorism (NCTb) described it as “a remarkable document” not seen before in the Netherlands.
Dutch terrorism analyst Edwin Bakker from the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael said the letter would serve as “a good tool in the ideological fight against terrorists and Islamists.”
…”I have watched with horror how a once lofty ‘struggle for freedom’ that should have been the go-ahead signal for a new, just world – especially in Iraq – has turned into a bloody escalation of violence, sectarianism and religious mania,” he wrote. “Unheard of cruelty and crimes have been committed in the process.”
He said the random killing by Islamists of innocent Muslims had rendered the struggle for Islamic rule “a total failure.”
The 25-year-old said he hoped his letter would serve “to warn youth not to be misguided by false promises and ideals.” He called on Islamists “to put down their weapons and employ other, productive methods” in order to bring about reforms instead of blaming the United States and the West.
According to the police, on his hit list were Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders.