The Terrorist Threat Assessment Netherlands versus the Counterterrorism Alert system

The Netherlands makes use of two systems of threat: Terrorist Threat Assessment Netherlands (DTN) and the Counterterrorism Alert System (Atb). What is the difference?

Terrorist Threat Assessment Netherlands

The Terrorist Threat Assessment Netherlands (DTN) determines the general threat level for the Netherlands on the basis of a wide range of intelligence. It does not deal with specific locations or times but with the question: how great is the risk – in general – that a terrorist attack will be carried out against the Netherlands? This risk can be minimal, limited, significant, substantial or critical. Because the assessment is so general, no security measures are taken on the basis of the DTN alone. It therefore primarily has an impact on the government’s anti-terrorist policies, for example by encouraging the government to focus on preventing radicalisation processes or on the role of women in terrorist networks.

Counterterrorism Alert System

The Counterterrorism Alert System was developed to look more specifically at the threat level within certain key areas or economic sectors. In contrast to the DTN, the Counterterrorism Alert System is a special alert system for the government and the corporate sector. On the basis of this system, they can quickly take security measures in response to a heightened threat in a particular sector. A sector can be at any one of four levels: basic, low, moderate or high

Differences between the DTN and the ATb

The Counterterrorism Alert System takes threat information into consideration if the threat in question clearly relates to a participating sector, while the DTN considers all threats pertaining to the Netherlands. This explains, for example, how the DTN can indicate that the general threat level is ‘substantial’ while the threat level for the participating sectors is basic. By the same token, a specific sector can be in a state of ‘high threat’ while the general threat assessment level is ‘substantial’ or ‘limited’. This is because a threat to a specific sector does not necessary imply that the threat to the Netherlandsas a whole has increased to the same degree.

Terrorist Threat Assessment NetherlandsCounterterrorism Alert system
For whom?The general public, companies and local authoritiesThe government and certain economic sectors
AimProvides a general assessment of the potential threat to the Netherlands: how great is the risk that a terrorist attack will be carried out somewhere in the Netherlands? Serves informational purpose and as a basis for developing government policy.Provides a specific assessment of potential and actual threats in a specific area or economic sector. Intended as a basis for taking security measures quickly in response to a heightened threat.
Threat levels
  • Minimal
  • Limited
  • Significant
  • Substantial
  • Critical
  • Basic
  • Low threat
  • Moderate threat
  • High threat
Threat applies toThe whole of the Netherlands, as it is not restricted to a particular area: how great is the risk that our country will experience a terrorist threat?Participating sector for which a threat has been identified.
MeasuresThe DTN is too general to serve as basis for taking security measures.Depending on the threat level, a set of security measures is implemented by the sector concerned and by the government.