Migrant Dreams and Nightmares

On Thursday January 17, news broke in the Netherlands that a Dutch journalist had been expelled from Turkey.  Ans Boersma, 31, had been detained the day before in Istanbul when she applied to renew her residence visa.  In a last-ditch attempt to help her, a group of her colleagues brought a lawyer to the police station where she was being held.  Their efforts were futile, and she was loaded onto a plane bound for Amsterdam.  Dutch politicians took to Twitter to denounce this as another instance of Turkey’s well-documented habit of flouting the freedom of the press.

However, it quickly emerged that there was more to the story—a lot more.  Boersma wasn’t being deported for something she had written.  Rather, she was a suspect in an ongoing terrorism investigation by the Dutch government.  And not just any investigation, but a very high profile one.

In September 2017, a group of Syrian refugees attended the screening of a documentary about the Syrian civil war in a theater in Amsterdam.  All of a sudden, a cry went up from the audience.  Some of the Syrians recognized a man in their midst.  He was a jihadist who had fought for Jabhat al-Nusra, a group that is sometimes called “Al Qaeda in Syria.”  They attempted to have him apprehended, but in the ensuing commotion he managed to flee the theater.

The story caused an uproar in the...

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