Counterterror office caught off guard by Rotterdam riots
The riots in Rotterdam caught authorities off guard, National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) Jaap Aalbersberg said in an interview with the AD.
"I was myself part of the riot police squad during the squatters' riots in Amsterdam in the 1980s. But this was not rioting for the sake of rioting," Aalbersberg said, "For the first time, we saw direct violence aimed at the government. Rioters attacked the fire brigade and police as the face of the government."
Even though the Cabinet announced stricter measures on Friday, he is not afraid of new violence. "No, I still believe that the Dutch police can restore peace. You cannot say: we stop fighting the pandemic because we are fear violence."
The NCTV reported that the protests were declining in October, but Aalbersberg noted that a "radical undercurrent" among coronavirus protesters is growing again.
"They are beyond activism. This is extremism," Aalbersberg said. He pointed out that similar events have been occurring in neighboring countries. "In France, they had the yellow vest protests. In Brussels, an anti-coronavirus protest got completely out of hand on Sunday. In the Netherlands, we have been spared about 20 years of major riots. Now, we are seeing dissatisfaction," Aalbersberg told the AD.
The NCTV said social media also plays a vital role by allowing a group of people to gather quickly and "radicalize loners faster and faster."
Reporting by ANP