Parents shocked by son's terrorism arrest; older suspect from Iran

Dutch police at the scene of a crime
Dutch police at the scene of a crimePhoto: twixx/DepositPhotos

The parents of a 20-year-old man arrested on Monday on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack in the Netherlands, is shocked by the accusations against their son. "We never expected this. If it is true, we strongly reject it. But we hope it's not true", the parents said to newspaper AD.

The 20-year-old man has Dutch nationality, but his family is originally from Iraq. The parents moved to the Netherlands in 1992 and all three their children were born here. A second suspect arrested on Monday, a 34-year-old man, is from Iran, according to the newspaper. 

The Public Prosecutor announced on Monday that the two are suspected of planning an attack in the Netherlands before the end of this year. Their exact target is unclear, but the authorities believe they were planning to use at least one car bomb and bomb vests. No firearms or explosives were found on the suspects or in their home. But the police did find a hatchet, a dagger, and a mobile phone with multiple SIM cards in a hidden space in one of their homes. 

The 20-year-old man was arrested in his home in Zoetermeer. Local residents told AD that he recently grew a short beard and regularly went to a mosque in The Hague. His parents confirmed that he was "very concerned with religion", while the rest of the family is not. The young man recently completed his studies and had a few temporary jobs, his parents said to the newspaper.

So far little is known about the 34-year-old suspect. He was arrested in his car in The Hague. According to AD, he also lived in Zoetermeer. 

According to the Public Prosecutor, the suspicions against these two men show that the chance of a terrorist attack in the Netherlands is still fully present. Evidence against them was obtained using undercover police officers. "They were indispensable for gaining insight into the suspects and their plans for committing an attack", the Prosecutor said.

The suspects are in restricted custody, which means that they are only allowed contact with their lawyers. It also means that the authorities and lawyers can't say much about the investigation or suspicions against the suspects. They will be arraigned on Thursday.