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Terrorist threat level raised

News item | 13-03-2013

The National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) has raised the terrorism threat level from ‘limited’ to ‘substantial’. The chance of an attack in the Netherlands or against Dutch interests abroad has risen. Two major reasons for this are the increase in the number of jihadists travelling to Syria and signs of radicalisation among young people in the Netherlands.

Close to a hundred individuals have recently left the Netherlands for various countries in Africa and the Middle East, especially Syria. From Europe as a whole, hundreds have made the journey, many of whom are joining local armed groups.

In conflict zones like Syria, jihadist travellers acquire knowledge and combat experience and can pose a threat to Western interests. There is also a risk they will inspire others in the Netherlands to follow in their footsteps. These jihadist travellers can return to the Netherlands highly radicalised, traumatised and with a strong desire to commit violence, thus posing a significant threat to this country.

In addition, nascent democratisation in North Africa and the Middle East has resulted in greater freedom for these jihadistnetworks. The security organisations in these countries are no longer willing or able to offer resistance to these networks. It is easy for jihadistnetworks to establish themselves there. Some would like to attack Western targets, including in Europe.

This combination of troubling developments has prompted the authorities to raise the threat level. The Minister of Security and Justice, the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) and the police are working with other Western countries to contain the security risks as much as possible, using the Netherlands’ Counterterrorism Strategy 2011-2015 as a basis. The intelligence services are deploying additional personnel and resources to investigate jihadist travellers. The police are also on the alert and have enhanced the system used to gather information from regional units. The municipalities and their local partners also play a crucial part in identifying radicalisation when it occurs.

Wherever possible, the Public Prosecution Service, the police and the AIVD will take criminal law measures against jihadist travellers. Moreover, a suspect who is not a Dutch citizen can lose his or her right of residence.

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