NCTV’s Terrorist Threat Assessment: threat in and to the Netherlands has become more multifaceted and diffuse

There are currently no specific indications that radicalised individuals are preparing an attack. However, there are individuals and groups in the Netherlands who are becoming radicalised or who are already radicalised and could pose a threat to national security. A terrorist attack in the Netherlands remains conceivable. The threat level has therefore been maintained at ‘significant’ (level 3 on a scale of 1 to 5). These are the key conclusions of the 57th edition of the Terrorist Threat Assessment for the Netherlands (DTN57), published by the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV).

Enlarge image Infographic Terrorist Threat Assessment Netherlands
Image: ©NCTV

Nature of terrorist threat has changed

The threat level has remained unchanged since 2019. The NCTV has observed, however, that the nature of the terrorist threat has changed over the past few years: the threat in and to the Netherlands has become more multifaceted and more diffuse. Jihadism remains the principal terrorist threat, but the threat posed by the jihadist movement in the Netherlands and neighbouring countries has decreased since the beginning of the decade. In view of the rise of right-wing extremist accelerationism, terrorist attacks prompted by this inherently violent ideology have also become conceivable. In addition, a belief in conspiracy theories among radical anti-government protesters can also lead to extremist and even terrorist acts.

The jihadist movement in the Netherlands

Due to its relatively large size and high degree of organisation, the Dutch jihadist movement remains the main source of the terrorist threat to the Netherlands. According to the NCTV, however, repressive measures on the part of the authorities and a lack of ‘mobilising issues’ have rendered the movement stagnant and relatively inactive. Nevertheless, some Dutch jihadists still harbour the intention to carry out an attack, although there are no indications that there are currently any plans to do so. The further development of the movement remains unpredictable. The threat could increase again, influenced by, for instance, certain mobilising events or the release from prison of persons who have served a sentence for terrorism. 

Right-wing extremism

As noted previously by the NCTV, accelerationism continues to pose the principal right-wing extremist violent threat. This movement advocates terrorist violence as a legitimate means of achieving its ideal of a white ethnostate. One of the pillars of accelerationism is ‘replacement theory’, a conspiracy theory that is increasingly part of the public debate in the Netherlands. Accelerationists believe that this perceived ‘replacement’ can be stopped by violent means and by precipitating a race war. Although accelerationist attacks have seldom occurred in Europe so far and accelerationists mainly confine themselves to expressing their discontent online, the inherently violent nature of the ideology means that an attack from these circles is conceivable.

Anti-government extremism

There is a group of anti-government extremists in the Netherlands which, prompted by deep-seated distrust, anger and feelings of injustice, is agitating against the government and other institutions. This group, which emerged as a radical undercurrent of the coronavirus protest movement, is shifting its focus to other matters, such as the controversy surrounding nitrogen emissions and the farmers’ protest movement. A subset of this group endorses conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories undermine public trust in our democratic institutions and the rule of law. The spread and normalisation of such theories could lead to extremist and even terrorist acts.