Story By: Koen Berghuis, |Sub-Editor: Michael Leidig, Agency: Central European News
A prison housing terror suspects has come under fire after an inmate uncovered a large amount of jihadist books were available in the jail library.
The shocking discovery was made by a convict in the high-security prison of Vught in the Netherlands, which houses some of the countries most dangerous terror suspects and convicts.
The convict leaked the discovery to local media saying he is afraid that some of his fellow inmates will be further radicalised.
According to local media, the list of books is quite exhaustive and includes for example works by the salafist preacher Bilal Philips, a Canadian national who was banned from entering the UK in 2010 by then home secretary Theresa May for holding “extremist views”.
Philips’ books were already banned from UK prisons in 2016 after British authorities said his writings were “in opposition to core British values” and branded them “extremist literature”.
Other books found in the Dutch prison library were such works as the Tafsir written by a classical radical 14th Century theologian by the name of Ibn Kathir.
It is a radical explanation of the Quran which includes passages encouraging believers to “wage jihad with the sword” and to “dominate the enemy, take his land and his children”.
The edition found in the prison library was printed by a salafist publishing house in the Dutch city of Leiden which previously was the centre of a controversy when they published a book saying homosexuals should be thrown off blocks of flats.
The inmate said that he recently saw “two boxes with twenty copies” of the Tafsir being carried into the prison.
Other books include works by Ahmad von Denffer, a German convert to Islam who propagates the introduction of sharia law and was under investigation by German intelligence services for alleged contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Terrorism researcher Jelle van Buuren of the University van Leiden said that prisons should make a case-by-case judgement whether or not to allow a book in the prison library.
He said: “There are few books banned in the Netherlands and that is good. But that does not mean that the government has to offer all books. Books which propagate violent jihad do not belong in prison.”
Belgian jihad expert Montasser AlDe’emeh of the University of Leuven said that some of the books found at the Vught Prison such as the work of the Medieval theologian Ibn Taymiyya “did open the door for a radical reinterpretation of jihad”.
AlDe’emeh said: “I ask myself why of all books those have to be in the prison library. How can you de-radicalise inmates if they can read such types of books? If the interpretation of experts is missing, reading such books can have counterproductive consequences.”
The Dutch Department of Corrections confirmed that the books mentioned in question are available in the Vught prison library.
A spokesman however added: “Before books enter the collection and are loaned out experts assess if they can be issued.”
Both the Christian-Democratic Appeal (CDA) party and the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) have announced that they will raise the issue with the Minister of Justice in parliament.