300 suspected terrorist transactions found in police-banks team up

An experiment in which the police and Dutch banks exchange the names of terrorist suspects is having possible results. Some 300 suspicious transactions were found over the past year. These transactions are being investigated further, NOS reports.

In this experiment, which started July last year, the police and the tax service's investigative department FIOD share the names of suspected terrorists with five major banks. The banks then notify the authorities when those persons have unusual transactions. For example, if a suspected jihadist buys a plane ticket, his bank tells the police and the police can investigate whether something suspicious is going on. 

"For banks it is often searching for a needle in a haystack when it comes to looking for suspicious transactions, which they are obliged by law to do. We as investigative services have a number of needles on our desk. So the idea of the exchange is: why not give the banks a helping hand?" Maarten Rijssenbeek, project leader of the police's taskforce against terrorism funding, said to NOS. 

According to Rijssenbeek, this project not only increased the number of reports of terrorism funding, but also how often they can be used. Normally 1 in 10 reports from banks is useful to an investigation, in the project it is 6 in 10. Rijssenbeek believes that this is due to the names passed on to the banks. "We only provide names that are now very current, of which a certain threat is assumed and of which we consider it proportional to provide the names."

The exchange project was extended by one year, and it is being investigated whether it can be turned into a permanent program, a spokesperson for the Public Prosecutor said to the broadcaster. He could not say in how many cases reports from this project contributed to the investigation, because many of the investigations are still ongoing.