This is because the theory appeals to diverse people who would otherwise have nothing to do with each other, such as right-wing extremist and Islamic extremist groups.
To warn against this, the intelligence community has taken the unusual step of sharing a report on this phenomenon with the general public. The intelligence service previously labeled the conspiracy theory in its annual report as the ‘most popular extremist narrative in the Netherlands’.
It is estimated that 100,000 people believe in this ‘to a greater or lesser degree’. Contrary to expectations, the number of followers has grown considerably after 2021. In that year, many people became interested in the theory due to corona lockdowns.
Suppress or kill
The AIVD speaks of ‘anti-institutional extremists’ who are convinced that an elite ‘wants to oppress, enslave or kill people’. That elite would consist of the government, the judiciary, media, science and large companies. Most adherents are non-violent.
Nevertheless, this poses a threat in the long term. According to the intelligence service, if the theory gains more supporters, it will undermine trust between citizens and the government and between people themselves.
This view of the world has “growth potential” according to the report’s authors. Different groups can easily tap into it because the narrative is ‘relatively agile’ by including ‘new messages about current events and phenomena’.
Man planned attack on Rutte
The image of being at war with the elite may be seen by some as a justification for violence, the report’s authors write. According to the AIVD, for example, this was the case when a man was arrested in 2022 who was planning an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The man posted ‘incendiary messages’ in Telegram groups in which many anti-institutional messages were spread.
Behind the development is the dissatisfaction of people who feel unheard and unhelped by the government. That is why, according to the AIVD, it is important that the government, science, media and judiciary do their best to “(re)gain” society’s trust.