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Saturday 20 December  
Terrorists have had it with the Netherlands
Perro de Jong's picture
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Den Haag, Netherlands
Den Haag, Netherlands

Terrorists have had it with the Netherlands

Published on : 15 December 2009 - 5:03pm | By Perro de Jong
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From now on, the threat of a terrorist attack on Dutch soil is only "limited". Over the past two years the threat was "substantial", but Muslim extremists prefer to seek refuge across the border, an analysis of the Netherlands' National Anti-Terrorism Co-ordinator published on Tuesday has revealed.

Politicians in The Hague and other potential targets can breathe a sigh of relief. According to the Dutch intelligence agency (AIVD) local networks of radical Muslims such as the notorious Hofstad group were weakened over the past year by internal divisions and a lack of leadership.

The Netherlands is rarely being mentioned in video threats issued by jihadist groups, despite the rise of anti-Islam opposition politician Geert Wilders. His controversial film Fitna caused a lot of commotion last year, but it seems to have gone off the jihadist radar since.

Other conflict zones
The judgment that the Netherlands is no longer a "preferred target" does not imply that the threat as a whole has got smaller, AIVD's Director of Internal Security Wil van Gemert warns. If anything, the threat has moved elsewhere.

"There are still plenty of radical youths and people who warmly sympathise with the struggle. But we also see that they are more focused on conflict areas abroad. I'm referring to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia. People are talking about travelling to those areas, or are actually there to receive training."
Earlier this year four men from the Netherlands were arrested and sent back, because they were allegedly on their way to a jihadist training camp in Somalia.

Symbolic moments
The rest of Europe is also no safer, stresses the AIVD and the Netherlands' National Anti-Terrorism Co-ordinator. There have been terrorist threats in Germany and Denmark in the past year.

In Germany, the threats were connected with the elections, and the debate over the German mission in Afghanistan. “Extremists are particularly sensitive to such symbolic moments,” says terrorism expert Jeffrey Murer from the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

In the Netherlands 2009 has been a relatively quiet year, and Mr Murer stresses that the increasingly robust debate here over immigration and integration has played a positive role:

"One of the things that are becoming increasingly obvious - whether it be to French security services, to the German security services, the Danish, the Swedish or even the British - is that the terrorist threat that exists within an immigrant community is largely born of relationships and politics in the domestic sphere. And the fact that the Dutch government has been, let's say, active in having a conversation about migration and the role of the state, it doesn't surprise me that the perception would be that the threat may be less."

No easing of measures
But the threat could easily increase again next year, as in 2010 a definite decision will be taken on Dutch involvement in Afghanistan. The much-talked-about trial of politician Geert Wilders as a result of his anti-Islamic statements begins in January, and the report of the enquiry into the Dutch role in the Iraq war will also be published next year.

These developments could, as in Germany, lead up to a new escalation, asserts Jeffrey Murer. Thereby the jihadists, who are being trained in camps abroad, could well establish a Dutch base. The Netherlands' National Anti-Terrorism Co-ordinator also does not rule out the possibility of the threat level rapidly increasing again.

The lowering to ‘limited’ also doesn’t mean that the existing security levels will be downgraded, assured Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst and Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin in a letter to the lower house of parliament.

'Boy who cried wolf'
Many Dutch people will soon become accustomed to an orange terrorism indicator. According to the latest opinion polls, only one percent of the population are at the moment afraid of being the victim of an attack. That’s the problem with such threat indications, warns Mr Murer:

"Frankly I have found that for public consumption, this kind of assessment of threat level is unhelpful. It can have the potential of sounding like boys who cry wolf. It's not particularly helpful to try to have these varied degrees when in point of fact it only moves from yellow to orange - slightly - and it's not clear to the public why even those small moves have occurred."

 
Mr Murer believes that these constant changes in threat levels, while in practice very little has changed, will make many people less attentive. The terrorism expert says that weighs a bit more heavily than the difference between a 'substantial' and a 'limited' threat.
 

(RNW translation: rk/as)

Lead photo: Flickr/alsay

Discussion

ilona@israel 22 December 2009 - 8:13pm / Israel

i agree with sandrav-some people belive that Iran is playing game in oder to keep the world in pressure but they are very serious and what is more-they are unpredictable and danger-they can easily destroy israel with nuclear bomb even if their own citizen will suffer after that.

Moustafa Ch 17 December 2009 - 4:49pm / Terrorists have had it with the Netherlands

Netherlands keepers of God and the world Hralarhab cursed, and cursed the God of terrorism and terrorists, and sympathizers, and even if this one word in every time and place.

sandrav 17 December 2009 - 6:09am / Nederlands

Steve, I was not at all being sarcastic, I was serious as hell. Iran is close to having nuclear weapons now, Pakistan is out of hand with the taliban getting closer to nuclear weapons that Pakistan does have. The only solution would be is for the West to take action now and destroy their nukes and terrorists before they destroy us and the whole world. Obama is playing lets talk B.S when in reality, these people do not want talk, they want blood obviously and they intend to have nuclear weapons at all costs until we stop them before that happens and the only way is for us to use nukes in order to destroy those who would bring harm to the entire world.

Steve 17 December 2009 - 3:10pm / USA

Oh, I apologize. That tends to be the problem with the internet, one can not always tell the others tone. I agree. I believe it was yesterday that Iran tested a missile that can reach parts of Europe and all of Israel. Once they have nuclear material as well as a missile that can deliver it watch the saber rattling begin. "Mutual assured destruction" will not work on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He wont care if his country is wiped off the map after he destroys every Western population center within his "reach". He will assume he, and everyone in his country, will receive the martyr preferential treatment in heaven. Maybe Obama should get on the phone with Warsaw and Prague and tell them he made a mistake by throwing them under the Russian bus and reversing the promise to build a missile shield. That would at least be a first step.

David Berridge 16 December 2009 - 5:24pm / Canada

Pearl Harbour took place on a Sunday. Whenever one's guard is at it's lowest is when a "discounted" attack is even more likely to take place. This doesn't mean entering into a state of paranoia, but instead to establish and maintain a set standard of security precautionary measures.

Abed 16 December 2009 - 4:30pm / Lebanon
Phew! Good to hear! Long live Dutch tolerance, Liberalism, and above all Sophistication and education!
Steve 16 December 2009 - 4:08pm / USA
Sandra, dont think you are exempt just yet. I will give you some excerpts from Osama Bin Laden's "Letter to the American People", and you can see how "guilty" the NL is in the extremists' eyes. --------------------------------------------------------------- (a) We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling's, and trading with interest. (NL guilty of all)---You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws (NL guilty as well)---(ii) You are the nation that permits Usury (Guilty)---You are a nation that permits the production, trading and usage of intoxicants. (Double guilty)---You are a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom. (I see a pattern)---(v) You are a nation that permits gambling in its all forms.---(vi) You are a nation that exploits women like consumer products ---(vii) You are a nation that practices the trade of sex in all its forms (red light district anyone?)----------I could go on all day. Dont fool yourself. The West could end all wars and and every person of "European" ancestry could leave the Middle East. After that if Israel ceased to exist, these extremists would STILL hate us because of the personal freedoms that form the bedrock of our democracy. It is very clear, these extremists wont be satisfied until Sharia is implemented in Washington, Brussels, and every other democracy.
sandrav 16 December 2009 - 9:46pm / Nederlands

Well, the only solution seems to be nuke the hell out of the extremists off the face of the earth.

Isa 16 December 2009 - 11:22am / NL
May be they are quite now. But they are wicked and should be followed well. Dont trust such criminals.
sandrav 16 December 2009 - 6:18am / Nederlands
I think USA and Britain are the main targets for terrorists. The Netherlands does not go starting illegal wars for the hell of it like some bully countries do for OIL.
Hiram 16 December 2009 - 4:34pm / USA
"The Netherlands does not go starting illegal wars for the hell of it like some bully countries do for OIL.".......When Islam attacked Spain, they attacked Spain because they didn't bend to Islam's demands. Westerners are not the only targets of Islam. They murder Muslims who don't support their cause and they murder Muslims because they belong to a different sect. Question: Why do they murder Muslims on the streets of Pakistan? They didn't attack anybody for oil? It is a holy war with them and they don't care who they murder. They murder their own people in the Allah and call it good. Why wouldn't they attack the Netherlands? If one's lifestyle is why they attack and murder, then the Dutch are right at the top of the list with the US and UK.
sandrav 16 December 2009 - 9:48pm / Nederlands

Like I said to Steve, the only solution then is to nuke these S.O.B murderous inhuman terrorists off the face of this earth.

Steve 17 December 2009 - 3:02am / USA

Hiram and I provide solid evidence that our freedoms in any Western country are at stake and you reply with sarcasm. That is the typical response from most European governments. That is why most terrorists choose Europe to gain unrestricted access to the West (via a European passport). At least you acknowledge the fact that they are inhuman and murderous. Al-Queda started operating training camps in the UK in 1998 (pre-Iraq). Also look up the history of Tel Aviv. Even before Israel was created Jews there were targets of terrorist attacks (that is what separated Tel Aviv from Jaffa). Countless surveys prove the vast majority of Muslims do not agree with the murderous philosophy preached by the extremists, but they to reveal a sizable number still do. Unfortunately it is not our foreign policy that they are most concerned with, it is our culture.

sandrav 17 December 2009 - 6:10am / Nederlands

Steve, I was not at all being sarcastic, I was serious as hell. Iran is close to having nuclear weapons now, Pakistan is out of hand with the taliban getting closer to nuclear weapons that Pakistan does have. The only solution would be is for the West to take action now and destroy their nukes and terrorists before they destroy us and the whole world. Obama is playing lets talk B.S when in reality, these people do not want talk, they want blood obviously and they intend to have nuclear weapons at all costs until we stop them before that happens and the only way is for us to use nukes in order to destroy those who would bring harm to the entire world.

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