Justice Min.: Political problems possible over Brussels bombing blunders

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Ard van der Steur (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Rijksoverheid.nl). (Ard van der Steur (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Rijksoverheid.nl))

Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice acknowledges that misinforming Parliament about the origin of American information on the El Barkaoui brothers could have political consequences. He called the situation "very annoying", but believes that his resignation will "benefit no one", he said to RTL Nieuws.

This morning Van der Steur admitted in a letter to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of parliament, that he made a mistake in the information he gave about the El Barkaoui brothers. The information the Netherlands received regarding their criminal and terrorist backgrounds came from the New York Police Department, and not the FBI as he stated on Tuesday. Khalid and Ibrahim El Barkaoui were suicide bombers in the terrorist attacks in Brussels last week.

The opposition parties were already unhappy with how Van der Steur dealt with information about the brothers. The fact that a mistake was made with that information does not ease their concerns.

D66 leader Alexander Pechtold called this mistake "painful and disturbing". GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver also chose "painful" as a good description. PVV leader Geert Wilders called Van der Steur's actions "fumbling". CDA leader Sybrand Buma went for "extraordinarily amateurish".

According to SP leader Emile Roemer, the government "easily points out errors of Belgium and Turkey, but it always turns out that they themselves do not have things in order", RTL Nieuws quotes him saying. "The more questions we ask, the greater the uncertainty. Can people trust that this government is still in control when it comes to tackling terror. I have big reservations about that."

ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers calls the mistake "embarrassing and unacceptable". "In the fight against the great evil of jihadism, it comes to the government and security forces performing at the best of their ability. So far that has not been the case. Information exchange is not good and the international cooperation is inadequate."

Whether Van der Steur will survive this mistake as Minister of Security and Justice remains to be seen. Only two months ago he survived a motion of no confidence regarding his actions surrounding forensic scientist George Maat, who was discredited after giving a lecture showing images of flight MH17 victims.

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