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The Hand that Feeds the Salafist: an Exploration of the Financial Independence of 131 Dutch Jihadi Travellers


perspectives-on-terrorism-10-5Journal abstract
This article examines the financial life of 131 jihadi travellers (JTs), also known as foreign terrorist fighters, from the Netherlands. For the purpose of the underlying research, access was acquired to all their banking transactions
in the year preceding their departure: over 60,000 transactions in total. Their income from work or employment, various forms of social assistance, student grants, and other income or expenditure were all examined. The data provided a good picture of their financial independence, i.e., the extent to which they were capable of making their own living or needed to claim assistance from the Dutch government. The analysis shows that it is highly exceptional for Dutch JTs to be financially independent. Only five percent have sufficient income from work or employment without making any claims on the government for financial assistance, and are free of mounting debts. This low score can largely be explained by the fact that almost half of the JTs are under 23 years of age and/or receive student grants. Their financial situation is not too different from the one of ordinary students. Older JTs (over 23 years of age, and not having received a student grant for at least one year) underperform, however. Only 9% are financially independent. It is thus to be expected that if any of the JTs do return, considering their experiences, life choices, and having been placed on a terrorist watch list, they will be even more financially dependent for many years to come.

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