Terrorism suspect arrested in Dutch refugee center
Police in the Netherlands arrested a 24-year-old Syrian man on Tuesday at a reception center for people seeking asylum in the country. The man was accused of involvement in a terrorist organization, and was taken into custody in Balk, a village in Friesland about 25 kilometers west of Heerenveen.
"The investigation into the man, who applied for asylum in the Netherlands in December 2018, started with information from the [Immigration and Naturalization Office]," the Public Prosecution Service (OM) said. Several data storage devices were seized from his room at his temporary residence, the OM stated. He was remanded into custody on Friday for two weeks while the investigation into his case continues.
"He probably participated in the Islamic group Ahrar al-Sham in Syria in 2015 and 2016."
The Salafist-Jihadist group operates is not officially categorized as a terrorist organization in the Netherlands, though two connected court cases in Rotterdam last year determined otherwise. When asked by members of parliament last year to explain the lack of a terrorism designation, Ministers Stef Blok (Foreign Affairs) and Ferd Grapperhaus (Justice and Security) said that it was largely because Ahrar al-Sham does not operate outside of Syria, and thus there has been little international support to apply the designation to them.
To land on the Dutch terrorism list, an organization must use violence or support the use of violence in achieving its goals, have an anti-Dutch or an anti-Western agenda, and commit or plan to commit attacks in the West. "Ahrar al Sham does not meet these criteria," the ministers said last November.