Man arrested at Schiphol Plaza claimed he wanted to release a virus
A 55-year-old man arrested at Schiphol Plaza in November last year claimed that he wanted to release a virus at the airport, the Koninklijke Mareuchaussee said on Wednesday. After a massive emergency response and the RIVM carefully examining a glass jar found in the man’s suitcase, the authorities concluded that the man had nothing dangerous on him.
A few weeks before the incident, the man had sent an email claiming he wanted to release a virus at the airport, the Marechaussee said. The Marechaussee briefed airport security about the man, so he was immediately recognized when he entered Schiphol Plaza at the end of November 2022. Marechaussee officers stopped and searched the man. He told them he had a virus in his suitcase.
The Marechaussee, a policing force that works as part of the Dutch military and is responsible for airport security, took the threat very seriously. They cordoned off a large part of Schiphol Plaza and called in the police, ambulances, fire brigade, and several specialist teams.
While that was happening, two Marechaussee officers took the man aside to talk to him. According to the Marechaussee, he cooperated calmly and told them that the situation was safe as long as his suitcase remained closed. The officers examined his phone and found texts describing a glass jar containing a virus, something about radioactive material, and photos of a jar.
Two specialists from the Ministry of Defense in protective gear examined the suitcase, taking measurements for dangerous substances before opening it. They found the glass jar inside. Their measuring equipment did not signal that anything was amiss, but the jar was still urgently rushed to the RIVM for analysis.
Because it was still unclear whether anything dangerous was going on, the suspect and the two Marechaussee officers who were talking to him were decontaminated and quarantined in a nearby cell complex.
The Marechaussee officers had to drive the van to the cell complex themselves, they said. They switched off the building’s ventilation as a precaution to prevent any possible substances from spreading. “You can imagine that the temperature climbed a lot,” one of the Marehcausee officers said. To not waste any time, they interrogated the man through a glass wall using mobile phones.
Only when the RIVM let them know that the glass jar contained nothing hazardous were the Marechaussee officers allowed to leave quarantine. The Marehcaussee officers were massively relieved. “It was a long day. We worked more than 8 hours overtime and were mentally exhausted,” one said.
The man’s motive is still under investigation.