The Dutch counter terrorism body NCTV on Wednesday raised the risk of a terrorist attack in the Netherlands or on Dutch interests abroad from limited to substantial.
The change is due to signs of increasing radicalisation among Dutch youngsters and the increase in the number of jihadists travelling to fight in Syria, the organisation said.
On Monday evening, Nos television reported up to 100 Dutch Muslims are currently fighting in Syria and other countries such as Afghanistan and Somalia.
This means the Netherlands is one of the biggest suppliers of European jihadist fighters, the broadcaster said, adding that most of them are members of the extremist Al Nusra movement which wants to create an Islamic state in Syria. In the US, the organisation is described as a terrorist movement.
The fighters are in their 20s but some are in their 30s and have left wives and children behind in the Netherlands, the broadcaster said.
According to the NCTV, this brings added problems. ‘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,’ the counter-terror body said in a statement.
Hundreds of European nationals are known to be fighting in Syria and last week two Danish nationals were killed in fighting. Earlier, Dutch photographer Jeroen Oerlemans was captured by British extremists.
In November three radical Muslims who planned to travel to Syria to take part in ‘armed jihad’ were arrested in Rotterdam.