The Dutch Ministry of Defense has advised its soldiers not wear their uniforms in public. Dutch vice Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher of the Labour Party emphasized that the proposal was merely advice.
The Dutch military, however, clearly ordered -- instead of advised -- its personnel to hide their military professions in public.
Dutch customs officials, whose uniforms could be mistaken as military, received the same advice.
Shaam tweeted: "So, now Dutch F-16's. Dutch people: your government just made you a target".
In a more elaborate threat, Shaam stated: "The West offered more than 90 million lives during the first and second World War for their self-glorified democracy. So the Ummah must be prepared to sacrifice even more lives for a righteous State which rules under the laws of Allah. The world has suffered the oppressive darkness of Western capitalism for long enough. It's time they get a taste of divine justice."
Shaam's warnings followed in the wake of Dutch support for the military campaign against the new so-called "Islamic State" [IS].
The Dutch government last week pledged six F-16 fighter jets, two spare F-16's, and a maximum of 130 military advisors to train forces opposing IS.
These threats are being taken very seriously. The Dutch government fears attacks on its military personnel; more specific threats against Dutch soldiers have now been voiced by Dutch jihadists. This is not the first time Dutch soldiers have been ordered to become unrecognizable as members of the military. The same order was issued during the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003 and during the release of Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders' movie Fitna.
By ordering Dutch soldiers to become "invisible" in The Netherlands, what message is the government sending to its enemies, let alone its own citizens? Dutch-Iranian law professor Afshin Ellian rightfully asks: if Dutch soldiers aren't safe anymore, than who is? Jihadists now know that a few tweets from a single Dutch jihadist can fundamentally alter Dutch defense policy. Dutch citizens now know that a few tweets from a single Dutch jihadist will send shivers down their government's spine and that -- instead of making sure all threats are neutralized -- it will order the personnel tasked with keeping them safe, to hide.
The Dutch-Israeli psychotherapist and author Martin van Vliet voices his concern: "Are we supposed to be protected by a military that orders its soldiers to start wearing the invisibility cloak as soon as they find out combating Jihad is not a video game without risks? The Dutch would be right not to place their trust in their military."
Such an operational transformation -- due to a tweet -- can only embolden Islamists to become more audacious and violent. At the same time, it can also prompt Dutch citizens to take more drastic measures to secure their own safety. Although the government was likely trying to deescalate the situation and safeguard its military personnel, its action can only work as a catalyst for further social unrest, inter-cultural tensions and overall escalation.
Fortunately, some soldiers are refusing the order. Lieutenant Colonel Willem Schoonebeek, for instance, stated: "I will not be led by the dictatorship of a loud minority. This uniform represents the organization that our Defense Department is. We provide safety in The Netherlands and beyond. It would be strange to participate in a mission in Iraq, while being too scared to advertise your profession in The Netherlands."
In parallel to Dutch soldiers "disappearing" from the street scene, Amsterdam's Jewish schools now have to be protected by the Royal Military Police [RMP] at the request of the City Council, the Justice Department and the police. As the RMP is a police unit, it is still allowed to be recognizable as such.
A country that has to hide its soldiers on its own soil and protect its Jewish schools with Military Police cannot possibly maintain that its social cohesion is intact and that it has no real problems with elements of its Muslim minority. Sadly, just like the punch-line that "IS has nothing to do with Islam," most top government officials and politicians are still in full blown denial about the scale and deep seriousness of this social and cultural problem.