A woman convicted for belonging to the terrorist organization Islamic State worked for the Dutch refugee council Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland for a year. The 39-year-old woman volunteered as a legal assistant at the organization and had access to refugees’ personal files, NOS reports after speaking to the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.
In 2019, the court in Rotterdam sentenced her to 30 months in prison, of which 10 months were conditionally suspended, convicting her of traveling to Baghdad in 2015 to join ISIS. Her brother’s phone had pictures of her posing next to the ISIS flag and holding a Kalashnikov. The judge held against her that she did not “unequivocally distance herself” from ISIS.
She stated that she was visiting family in Baghdad and visited the ISIS-controlled cities of Falluja and Mosul as a tourist. She also said that all she did in the caliphate was take care of her husband and family.
“I felt that I indeed distanced myself from the actions of ISIS,” she told NOS. “I felt people there had to choose between two evils. I had a nuanced view of that.”
Vluchtelingenwerk told NOS that the woman provided a valid certificate of good behavior (VOG). The woman said the probation service warned her it might be challenging to get one, but she didn’t have any trouble. “They didn’t say I wasn’t allowed to work at Vluchtelingenwerk.”
“I never had the feeling of ‘oops’ towards the clients who came to my consultation hours. I did the work with good intentions,” she said. “If your intentions are pure, you don’t have to look back.”
Vluchtelingenwerk told the broadcaster that they recently became aware of the woman’s past and cut ties with her. “It is, of course, very precarious. We do not want potential perpetrators and victims to end up facing each other. But if a lawful VOG has been issued, we assume that the person can carrot out voluntary work with us,” a spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice and Security, which covers Justis – the organization that issues VOGs, would not say how the woman received a VOG despite her conviction. “We cannot comment on individual cases.”
Wahhab Hassoo of the NL helps Yazidis foundation finds the situation “disgusting,” he told NOS. “If one of the most important refugee organizations has ties with someone who belonged to a genocidal organization, then I have no words for that. Very sad. Countless Yazidis have become victims of ISIS, including my own family. I think it’s really scandalous.”
https://nltimes.nl/2023/10/17/convicted-jihadist-worked-dutch-refugee-council-year Convicted jihadist worked for Dutch refugee council for a year