The Dutch public prosecution department is looking into claims that members of an IS cell spent time at a refugee centre in Nijmegen, broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday.
French newspaper Le Monde reported last week that a cell of 20 IS sleepers were living in Nijmegen and Dusseldorf in Germany and were ready to commit atrocities when ordered to do so. The paper bases its claim on evidence from Saleh A, a former jihadi who turned himself over to French police in February.
Dutch justice minister Ard van der Steur told MPs on Tuesday afternoon that he understood the concerns raised by the newspaper reports. These sorts of claims are always looked into, the minister said, before adding that he could not comment on ongoing investigations.
Three Syrian nationals, said to be members of the cell, were arrested in Dusseldorf last week. No one has been arrested in the Netherlands but sources told NOS officials are aware who is involved and where they currently are.
Lack of evidence
However, there is not currently enough evidence to arrest them, NOS reporter Henrik-Willem Hofs said.
‘They need more than Saleh A’s statement,’ Hofs said. ‘There is no point in arresting potential IS fighters only to be told by a judge to release them in a couple of days because there is not enough evidence.’
Nijmegen was home to the biggest Dutch refugee camp until it was closed last month. It is not clear if the Le Monde claims refer to this camp, the NRC said.
The Dutch counter-terrorism tsar Dick Schoof said in March there are signs Islamic militants have been attempting to abuse the refugee system to enter Europe.
However, the NCTV has not raised the threat level in the Netherlands following the claims about an IS cell.