The Case of the Disappearing Pakistanis

I’ve reported previously on the mysterious disappearing Somalis of Minnesota. A number of young men in the Minneapolis area distressed their families and made the FBI nervous by vanishing — possibly under the influence of Islamic radicals who lured them away to their ancestral homeland for the purposes of jihad.

One of them was even returned to his adopted home in pieces, after blowing himself up in a suicide bombing in Somalia.

Now it seems that this phenomenon is not confined to Minnesota, or to Somalis. According to Elsevier, as translated by our Flemish correspondent VH, a number of students from Pakistan have mysteriously disappeared from the Netherlands:

Alarm about ‘disappearing’ students from ‘risk countries’

By Robbert de Witt

The Security Services and the Education Inspectorate are worried about the hundreds of exchange students who are ‘lost’ and possibly involved in terrorist activities.

Students from Islamic Pakistan are especially a security risk

The recently published report by the Inspectorate about foreign students in higher education [pdf here] shows that the risk is highest with students from countries such as Pakistan and Nepal.

“In the eight institutions under investigation by the Inspectorate it is estimated that (in total) about two hundred students have left to an unknown (for the institution, and thus also for the inspection) destination.”

Security risks

Since 2004 the Dutch government has actively sought foreign students to study in the Netherlands. The security risks that this might entail have long been denied.

But after several incidents with extremist students from outside Europe, this attitude has changed, De Volkskrant reports.


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For example, a Somali student who was arrested in Germany at the airport of Cologne seemed to be studying at the Hogeschool [Higher professional education] in Enschede. German justice suspected him of wanting to commit an attack.

In March of last year, a Pakistani student who was registered at the Hogeschool in Breda was extradited to Spain. He was suspected of belonging to a terrorist cell in Barcelona that had been dismantled by anti-terror units.


After these incidents, the threat level by the National Terrorism Coordinator (NCTb) was increased substantially.

In addition, the Ministers of Justice [Ernst Hirsh Ballin, CDA, Christian Democrat] and of Home Affairs [Ter Horst, PvdA, Socialist, Labour] wrote a letter in December to the Parliament about the possible risk of exchange students for national security.

In addition, the Dutch immigration service IND has already notified educational institutions of the risk of exchange students from Islamic Pakistan.