Travel warning issued for Dutch citizens
The threat that Dutch nationals will be kidnapped and held hostage abroad is rising, and Dutch people abroad have been told to be extra vigilant for terrorist acts. The Dutch counter-terrorism co-ordinator NCTV's Dick Schoof advises that people in volatile countries in the Middle-East, Asia and Africa have to be extra careful, the NOS reports.
It is the reality of the current situation that the threat against Dutch citizens has risen due to the country's contribution to America's War on Terror. This means that kidnapping is a possibility.
In 2013, journalist Judith Spiegel and her husband Boudewijn Berendsen were kidnapped and held for months in Yemen. The year before, bird-watcher Ewald Horn was kidnapped in the Philippines. Horn is still being held, as is Sjaak Rijke in Mali, who was captured by an Al Qaeda faction in 2011.
This week, it was announced that the threat level in The Netherlands remains as it was, at 'substantial'. This means that the police, the Public Prosecution Authority, the Netherlands intelligence service AIVD and the NCTV are "super alert", Schoof says.
Dutch soldiers have been advised not to wear their uniform in public this week, and not to take public transport in uniform. This comes after a video message from a Dutch jihadi in Syria, who asks for a "strong act" against the Dutch government.
Schoof understands that soldiers are easily pinned as targets for terrorists. He gives the example of the soldier attacked and killed in Woolwich, London. The 25-year-old Lee Rigby was attacked by two men, who used knives and a cleaver to brutally kill him, in revenge for the killing of Muslims by the British.
The Dutch government has a good picture on jihadis in The Netherlands, Schoof states. "Of course you never know everything, but it has led to the fact that we have been able to take in many passports, and that we know who is traveling out of the country and who is coming back."