Attack on Dutch elections possible warns counter-terror boss
With European citizens becoming more polarized when it comes to integration, Islam and asylum, the Netherlands must prepare for a possible attack during the parliamentary elections in March, cautions Dick Schoof, the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security. Radicalized loners, both ultra nationalists and religious fanatics, could be particularly dangerous, he told radio station BNR.
He added that the ISIS propaganda machine is relentlessly targeting “vulnerable, impressionable people who are not on the radar screens of security authorities.” These online messages are calling on disillusioned people to carry out attacks on behalf of the militant group.
But the primary danger is from the alleged jihadists who return to the Netherlands from Iraq and Syria. It is one reason why the Dutch threat level is at its second-highest level.
There are European arrest warrants out for about 190 Dutch people who fought in the Syrian Civil War, and whose whereabouts are not known. There were 270 known Dutch people who went to join the uprising there, of which 44 were killed, and roughly 40 returned. With ISIS losing ground, Schoof warns that more may be headed back to the Netherlands.
“An increasing number of returnees is likely to strengthen the domestic jihad movement in the Netherlands, and thus increase the treat posed by this movement,” he said.
He added that there are several hundred supporters of the jihadist movement in the Netherlands, and thousands of sympathizers.