Netherlands raises terror threat to second-highest as counter-terror chiefs warn of ‘substantial’ risk of attack

By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

The Netherlands has raised its terror threat to its second-highest level with the country’s National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) warning of a “real chance” of a terrorist attack.

In its Terrorist Threat Assessment for the Netherlands report, NCTV announced the threat level had been upped from 3 to 4 which means the threat of attack is “substantial” – it is the highest threat level reached in the country for over four years.

The counter-terrorism agency warned that “the jihadist-inspired terrorist threat to the Netherlands is on the rise” and noted that Islamic extremist groups operating within Europe are “using the war in Gaza to urge sympathizers to carry out attacks in the West.”

“Individuals or small groups within the jihadist movement may feel inspired to commit acts of violence” as a result of increasing tensions in the Middle East that are now being felt among communities in the Netherlands and the wider European continent, its report stated.

NCTV acknowledged that several arrests were made by counter-terrorism police in the Netherlands this year of suspects “intending to carry out an attack with jihadist motives,” and sought to assure the public that these successful preventative measures showed that “European intelligence and security services are able to identify terrorism and thwart attacks”.

However, the report also noted that attacks had already slipped through the net so far this year in France, Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom which illustrate “the risks posed by radicalized individuals who are inspired by current events and terrorist organizations”.

The move by the Dutch authorities followed remarks made by the European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson late last month who warned of a “huge risk” of terror attacks in the European Union during the Christmas season.

“With the war between Israel and Hamas, and the polarization it causes in our society, with the upcoming holiday season there is a huge risk of terrorist attacks in the European Union,” Johansson told reporters.

“We saw this recently in Paris,” she said, referring to the German-Filipino tourist stabbed to death near the Eiffel Tower on Dec. 2. The attack left two others injured and was conducted by an Islamist extremist French national of Iranian origin who had already been incarcerated for four years for planning an attack in the Parisian business hub of La Défense in the summer of 2016.

“We saw it earlier as well,” Johansson continued, alluding to the shooting of Swedish nationals in Brussels, and the foiled attack planned by foreign nationals in Germany earlier this month who aimed to ram a truck into attendees of the Christmas markets in Cologne.

NCTV ominously warned that there are now several examples of “young jihadists who become radicalized outside of known real-world networks” via online propaganda and that many attacks could be planned outside of the Netherlands “in collaboration with like-minded individuals throughout Europe”.

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