Terrorist threat level near critical, embassy security increased

Ard van der Steur (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/VVD/Matthijs Idema)Ard van der Steur (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/VVD/Matthijs Idema)

The terrorist threat level in the Netherlands is "at the top of the range" of substantial threat, and nearing critical level, according to Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice. This is because of "what happened with the Thalys and some other things". Belgium has placed extra security at the Dutch embassy in Brussels, as well as at the embassies of other countries part of the coalition fighting against terrorist organization Islamic State.

Minister Van der Steur would not elaborate what exactly the "some other things" threatening the Netherlands entails, the Telegraaf reports. The threat level will only be raised from "substantial" to "critical" once there are concrete indications of an attack.

The Belgian government decided to increase the security around the embassies of anti-ISIS coalition countries following advice from the Strategic Committee for Intelligence and Security, according to NRC. The threat level in Belgium is re-evaluated every month. The number of soldiers assisting the police on surveillance operations in that country has been increased from 160 to 200.

Other countries' embassies that got extra security are Canada, Britain, Australia, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Until yesterday, the only embassies in Belgium to have extra soldiers guarding them were the embassies of the United States, Denmark, France and Israel.

Neither Belgium or Minister Van der Steur would comment on why the decision was made to increase security at these embassies. Earlier this week PVV leader Geert Wilders claimed to have heard shocking information during a meeting of the so-called Stiekem committee, confidential meetings during which the country's security is discussed. CDA leader Sybrand Buma also recently called for the Netherlands to also participate in airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, not only in Iraq, and to send ground forces into the country to protect refugees. So far the CDA's call is not getting much support from other political parties.