Police chief defends terror alarm, arrests

Amsterdam’s police chief has defended the authorities’ decision to take last week’s terror threat in Amsterdam-Zuidoost seriously and the subsequent arrest of seven suspects.

The police have been heavily criticised following the arrest of seven people in Amsterdam last Thursday following a telephone tip-off by a woman in Brussels. All the suspects were released by the weekend and no explosives were found.
But in an interview in Monday’s Volkskrant, police chief Bernard Welten dismissed the criticism as ‘predictable human short-sightedness’.
He said details given by the caller about those who carried out the Madrid bombings exactly five years ago were not general knowledge. The woman was carefully questioned during her 10 minute call just after midnight on Wednesday night, Welten tells the paper.
She gave names, addresses and descriptions of three men who she said were planning to travel to Amsterdam in a minibus and place explosives in three large shops close in the Arena Boulevard. One was allegedly related to one of the Madrid bombers.
The area was evacuated and cordonned off on Thursday.
Welten, the head of the regional prosecution service and Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen (known as ‘the triangle’ which is jointly responsible for handling emergency situations) were also criticised for revealing the ethnic identity of the seven Dutch-Moroccans arrested during Thursday night’s press conference.
‘Everyone knows the attacks in Madrid were carried out by Moroccans… so it was a relevant fact. If we had not mentioned it, a flood of uncontrollable remours would have started,’ Welten is quoted as saying in the Volkskrant.

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