Counter terrorism unit raises NL threat level to “substantial”


The Dutch counter-terrorism unit NCTV has raised the threat level in the Netherlands from three to four, or “substantial”. It is the first time in four years that the threat level has been increased and means there is a “realistic possibility that an attack will take place in the Netherlands”, the government agency said. 

NCTV chief Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said the decision had been based on the sum total of several developments, in particular the threat of jihadist activism. These include the war between Hamas and Israel, Koran-shredding incidents in several European countries and calls by terror groups such as IS and al-Qaida.

“Given this context, individuals or small groups within the jihadist movement may feel inspired to commit acts of violence,” the report said.

“These events have had a mobilising effect not only on Dutch jihadists, but also on radical Islamists outside the jihadist movement. Lone attackers are often more difficult to recognise than groups.”

The threat level is an estimate of the general threat of a terrorist incident and was reduced from four to three in December 2019. 

There have been attacks in countries close to the Netherlands which show that individuals are acting on calls for action, the NCTV said. In addition, the authorities in those countries have arrested people who are thought to have been planning attacks. 

Earlier this month, for example, a German tourist was killed in an attack near the Eiffel Tower by a man known to be a radicalized Muslim. The Netherlands has since raised its travel advice to Paris from green to yellow. 

The threat of “anti-institutional extremism” is also present, even though in general this movement is not violent, the report said. Earlier this month the Supreme Court sounded the alarm about the number of people who were living as “self-declared sovereign individuals” outside mainstream society. 

“Most sovereign citizens pursue a life of personal autonomy or self-sufficiency, without posing any violent threat,” the report said. “However, a small minority are asking questions about when violence is justified, or are even making preparations for a violent confrontation with the government.”

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