Terrorism threat is growing in the Netherlands from jihadists, right-wing extremists
The threat of a terrorist attack in the Netherlands has increased over the past six months, according to the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV). In the latest threat assessment, the counter-terrorism coordinator said he sees "increasing signs" that jihadist organizations are preparing terrorist attacks in Europe. He also pointed to threats from right-wing extremists, as well.
The Netherlands has long been seen "as a legitimate target for an attack" and has recently “even more emphatically” been considered due to a recent incident where a copy of the Quran was destroyed in protest. However, the official terrorist threat level remains the same, at level three for “significant”.
Pegida leader Edwin Wagensveld was in the news in recent months for tearing up the Quran, the holy book for Muslims. Such actions put the Netherlands "on the radar" of jihadist networks in Syria, Afghanistan and Turkey. The Netherlands has been mentioned in terrorist propaganda material as a result. This does not always lead to a higher number of attacks, but it does contribute to a higher terrorist threat in the short term, according to the NCTV.
The threat against Dutch targets in countries where terrorist cells linked to ISIS are still active is greater than in the Netherlands itself. Plans uncovered from February this year indicated the possibility of carrying out an attack against several sites, including the Dutch consulate in Istanbul. These were probably prepared in retaliation for the Quran destruction. In the Netherlands itself, the jihadist movement is ideologically fragmented, according to the NCTV, and its size is estimated to be stagnating at 500 people.
There is also a threat from right-wing extremists, the NCTV said. This movement has become more diffuse and unpredictable in both the Netherlands and other European countries. NCTV still called it "worrying" that the online world involving right-wing terrorists also has Dutch followers. People who follow this philosophy, mostly young men, "can immerse themselves in rabid content for years, until an isolated incident incites them to concrete violence.”
Incidentally, people from this environment have not yet committed an attack in the Netherlands, although there have been more arrests of radicalized right-wing extremists in the Netherlands and in other European countries. This is not always a harbinger of more terrorist activity, but "mainly means that security services have a better view of the long-standing threat."
The NCTV believes that the developments are still in line with threat level three, which means "an attack in the Netherlands is conceivable.”
Reporting by ANP