Anonymous tip warned police about Hague stabber, Prosecutor says

Dutch police crime scene tape
Dutch police crime scene tapePhoto: Politie

In March the police received a warning that 31-year-old Syrian man Malek F., who stabbed three people in The Hague earlier this month, was planning to commit "a terrorist attack", the Public Prosecutor announced in an update about the case on Tuesday.

The anonymous tip was written in poor English. According to the Prosecutor, the police shared this information with intelligence service AIVD and discussed it with the municipality and other authorities. "At the time, this broad investigation gave no reason to regard the man as someone with terrorist backgrounds, but could not exclude this either", the Prosecutor said. 

An anonymous tip alone, without further confirmation from investigation, is not enough to arrest someone. At the time of the tip, Malek F. was admitted to a mental health institution after he had thrown his furniture out of a window. 

The man is now in restricted custody at the Penitentiary Hospital in Scheveningen. He is only allowed contact with his lawyer. F. is charged with three counts of attempted murder and one count of threatening someone in a cafe on Johanna Westerdijkplein.

His motive is not yet known. According to the Prosecutor, nothing was found in his home that "indicates a terrorist line of thought" and the statements F. gave differ from each other. All scenarios are still being kept open, including a possible terrorist objective. The incident was not claimed by any terrorist groups. 

F.'s three victims have since been discharged from the hospital. Though they still face a "considerable period of recovery", The Hague mayor Pauline Krikke said, according to broadcaster NOS. 

Shortly after the incident Krikke said that there were "no signals" that more was going on with F. than that he was known to the police for "disturbed behavior". Sources told NOS that at that time the mayor, police and prosecutor in The Hague were not aware of the anonymous tip that F. was planning a terrorist attack. It took a few hours before this information ended up with the Hague authorities, according to the broadcaster. Although the Public Prosecutor now said that the tip was discussed with the municipality.