Born in 1985, Jason Walters (better known as Jason W) is the son of a Dutch mother and American father who had served in the U.S. military, He converted to Islam at 13, and soon began to radicalize. He made two trips to Pakistan, the first time at 18, intending to continue on to Afghanistan and join the Taliban. That failed. Later, he joined the Dutch Hofstadgroep, a loose-knit organization of radical Muslim youth whose membership also included Mohammed Bouyeri. It was Bouyeri who, in 2004, murdered filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
Soon after Van Gogh’s death, police raided the Hofstadgroep headquarters in The Hague. During the ensuing standoff, Walters threw a hand grenade at the police, wounding four officers before being arrested. He received a fifteen-year jail sentence. In 2013, after serving nine years, he was released. He deradicalized in prison.
His brother Jermaine, however, also a former Hofstadgroep member, joined the Islamic State, and was killed in Raqqa in 2015. Jermaine’s wife and children are believed still to be in the border region between Syria and Iraq.
Walters now studies Crisis and Security Management at the University of Leiden, and recently completed his dissertation for a Masters degree. The thesis, titled “Islamic radicalization and de-radicalization from an existential perspective,” is dedicated to his brother Jermaine. He includes a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche: “Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.”
This is the first major interview that Walters has given since his 2013 release. He talks about his time as a Muslim terrorist, about the Hofstadgroep, and about virulent anti-Semitism in the Muslim community. And how he himself, once a rabid anti-Semite, now considers himself a friend of Israel and the Jews.