NYPD, not FBI, alerted Netherlands to Brussels attack brothers: Justice Min.

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

The information the Netherlands received from the United States regarding the El Bakraoui brothers did not come from the FBI, but from the New York police, Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice wrote to Parliament.

On Tuesday Van der Steur informed the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, that the FBI informed the Netherlands about the El Bakraoui brothers' criminal and terrorist backgrounds on March 16th. Less than a week later, on March 22nd, the two brothers were suicide bombers in the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

Van der Steur now sent another letter to the Kamer, claiming that not the FBI, but the NYPD sent the information. He admits that a mistake was made "in respect of the sender of the information".

"The Dutch liaison at the embassy in Washington received the message from another big American investigative authority, namely the Intelligence Division of the New York Police Department", Van der Steur wrote. "As usual, the liaison forwarded this information to the National Police without specifying the origin. It was then assumed in the Netherlands that the information came from the FBI."

The Minister goes on to state that he will quiz the New York police on why the information was sent to the Dutch authorities, as he promised to do with the FBI in the parliamentary debate on the Brussels bombings on Tuesday.

The opposition parties wanted to know why the Dutch security services took no action after the U.S. warning about the El Bakraoui brothers. The debate was suspended and will be resumed next week as soon as Van der Steur can give more clarification on the course of events.

D66 leader Alexander Pechtold is disappointed that another mistake is coming to light, he told NU.nl. "In these uncertain times with horrific attacks, the Netherlands is counting on its government, on reliable information, so we can be reassured. It is painful and disturbing that we are disappointed every time.

"This is a painful mistake by Van der Steur", GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver said to the news agency. "It is also painful that we apparently have to get information on a Belgian terrorist possibly staying in our country via the police in New York."

CDA leader Sybrand Buma called Van der Steur's actions "extraordinarily amateurish". "The Netherlands must be able to assume that the minister who deals with security at least knows who spoke to his organization."

"What a fumbling again", PVV leader Geert Wilders responded on Twitter.