Pressure mounting on Justice Min. Ard van der Steur
What seems like a continuous stream of blunders and missteps regarding Brussels suicide bomber Ibrahim El Bakraoui has opposition parties looking for blood at the ministry of Security and Justice. Political journalists believe that the next debate on the topic, set to take place next week, will be do or die for Minister Ard van der Steur
The first spot of trouble for Van der Steur in this mess was when Turkey announced that Ibrahim El Bakraoui was deported to the Netherlands in July last year and the Ministry of Security and Justice had no idea what was going on. Following some hasty investigation, it was revealed that El Bakraoui was indeed put on a plane to Schiphol. But Turkey only sent an electronic note about the extradition, instead of calling the Dutch authorities as is usual, Van der Steur informed the Kamer. The Turks and Belgians did not keep to protocol.
During the debate earlier this week about the terrorist attacks in Brussels, it turned out that a call is by no means protocol ad that the Ministry of Security and Justice never opened the electronic note Turkey sent about El Bakraoui's deportation.
The Minister was also unable to explain why the United States decided to inform the Netherlands about the criminal and terrorist backgrounds about El Bakraoui and his brother Khalid a week before the terrorist attacks in Brussels, where both of them blew themselves up. A day later it turned out that this information did not come from the FBI, like Van der Steur claimed, but from the New York Police Department. A mistake the Minister himself calls "very annoying".
"It all seems like small stuff, but information about the preparation of terrorist attacks it is literally of vital importance that a minister knows exactly what's going on. Bumbling is a mild qualification", according to the Volkskrant. "Next week another parliamentary debate with Van der Steur. He must not fumble again."
"It is about how to prevent attacks in the Netherlands. It is vitally important how you handle information. When you see how it was handled in this case, it gives little confidence that all is well." political reporter Ron Fresen said to NOS. "It's make or break for Van der Steur. In the debate he will have to show that the safety of the Netherlands is in good hands with him."
Political reporter Wilco Boom agrees. "The political fate of the minister hangs by a thread", he said to NOS. Everything depends on how he acts in the debate next week. "If he does well and does not again raise all kinds of new questions, it may turn out well for him."