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Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 - The Netherlands

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 May 2013
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 - The Netherlands, 30 May 2013, available at: [accessed 18 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Overview: The Netherlands continued to respond effectively to the global terrorist threat in the areas of border and transportation security, terrorist financing, and bilateral counterterrorism cooperation. Cooperation with U.S. law enforcement remained excellent. In its December quarterly terrorism threat analysis, the Dutch National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV) maintained the national threat level at "limited," meaning chances of an attack in the Netherlands or against Dutch interests were relatively small but could not be ruled out entirely. The threat against the Netherlands is mainly from violent Islamist extremists, though the attention of the fragmented and leaderless network is mostly focused on overseas conflict areas. Individuals traveling to those areas to fight are the main focus for Dutch authorities, but domestic lone wolves also appeared on the radar. Resilience by the Dutch population to terrorism continued to be high and there was a trend towards less radicalization and alienation.

In 2012, the NCTV completed its two year internal reorganization process; national security, counterterrorism, and cyber security are now under the NCTV umbrella.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In 2011, the government published the first comprehensive assessment of Dutch counterterrorist measures over the past decade. The study, which had been commissioned to the Nijmegen Radboud University, concluded that post-9/11 Dutch counterterrorism policy was solid and reliable and the measures taken were not contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Dutch police were reorganized into a new national police service, scheduled to become operational in 2013. The multi-year, country-wide reorganization effort is expected to improve investigation and public order capabilities.

The Netherlands continued to improve its border security. Cameras were installed at the border, primarily focused on illegal immigration and organized crime, and the government established an interagency coordination center to share this information and provide for a more effective and efficient response. Dutch ports of entry have biographic and biometric screening capabilities.

The Netherlands remained strongly committed to effective cooperation with the United States on border security. The Port of Rotterdam was the first European port to participate in the Container Security Initiative. The Netherlands had high-level discussions with the United States through the annual Agreed Steps program, and exchanged information on security measures for airports, ports, and critical infrastructure. In addition, agreements have been made on dealing with forged documents. In February, the Netherlands signed a Letter of Intent with the United States on cyber-security cooperation and in November, the Netherlands and the United States signed an agreement on cooperation in science and technology concerning homeland and civil security matters.

Significant law enforcement actions included:

  • On July 3, the Dutch Supreme Court directed the re-trial of two members of the Hofstad Group, an identified terrorist organization, due to insufficient evidence. In 2010, both men were sentenced to 15 months in prison.

  • On September 20, Samir Azzouz was arrested in prison for attempting to recruit fellow inmates and planning an attack. He was imprisoned in 2008, and was serving a nine-year sentence for a terrorist plot.

  • On October 18, Mahamud Said Omar of Somalia was convicted by a court in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for sending money and recruiting fighters from the United States to Somalia. Omar was arrested in the Netherlands in 2009 and extradited to the United States in 2011. Dutch authorities and witnesses contributed significantly to the success of the investigation and prosecution. No sentencing date was set as of year's end.

  • On December 3, police arrested 55 people at an alleged meeting of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by both the Netherlands and the EU. Those arrested came from Turkey, France, Germany, Syria, Switzerland, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Authorities viewed this as a training meeting and nine suspects will face trial. The others were released, with a handful handed over to immigration.

  • In 2011, at the request of U.S. authorities, the Dutch police arrested Dutch terrorist suspect Sabir Ali Khan at Schiphol airport. Khan was suspected of fighting against ISAF troops in Afghanistan. The district court of Rotterdam declared Khan's extradition to the United States admissible, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in April. After an independent investigation into Khan's mental health delayed the process, the Justice Minister decided December 20 to approve the extradition. Khan has appealed the decision to the European Court of Human Rights.

  • In 2011, an Iraqi national was released while awaiting trial by the Rotterdam district court, pending the investigation. He was suspected by the General Intelligence Service of intending to travel to Syria to join al-Qa'ida. While awaiting continuation of his trial, the man traveled abroad. His whereabouts were unknown at year's end.

Countering Terrorist Finance: The Netherlands has been a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) since 1990, and is one of the cooperating and supporting nations of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. The European Commission sets many rules for countering terrorist finance in directives that EU member states (including the Netherlands) implement themselves. Dutch officials cooperated with the United States in designating terrorist organizations and interdicting and freezing their assets.

The Cabinet has submitted to the Council of State, the government's highest advisory body, a proposal to amend current legislation on economic crimes, including changing sentences for terrorist financing. This legislation is in line with FATF recommendations and EU directives. The Netherlands is working to resolve legal issues that affect it when challenged at court, and is enhancing its due process rules.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: The Netherlands is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and contributed to the creation of Hedayah, the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism. The Dutch are also planning to contribute to the curriculum development of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, to be established in Tunisia. The Netherlands contributed to the counterterrorism work of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

The Netherlands continued to chair the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism's Nuclear Detection Working Group. In November, the Netherlands hosted a table top exercise to improve cooperation in preventing a nuclear or radiological terrorist event. This exercise was in preparation of the March 2014 Nuclear Security Summit to be held in The Hague. In 2011, the International Centre for Counterterrorism – an independent body established in The Hague in 2010 – and the Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute organized an international conference on prison radicalization, rehabilitation, and reintegration of violent extremist offenders, which contributed to the adoption in 2012 of a document on rehabilitation and reintegration at the Global Counterterrorism Forum ministerial meeting in Istanbul. The Dutch also cooperate on EU and OSCE counterterrorism efforts.

The Netherlands was a strong voice on Lebanese Hizballah; the Dutch Foreign Minister publicly highlighted the dangers the group posed and called on the EU to designate it as a terrorist organization.

The Netherlands is implementing counterterrorism capacity building projects in Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco, Algeria, Kenya, and Indonesia.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The resilience of the Dutch population to violent extremism is high. Radical efforts by political and religious leaders seemed to have little effect on immigrant communities or on the general population as a whole. After completing the 2007-2011 Action Plan: Polarization and Radicalization, the Netherlands has shifted from a broad, general, catch-all effort to a more narrowly focused, more localized approach.

Countering violent extremism is locally organized, instead of relying on national programs. There have been no major communication efforts or public awareness campaigns, because of this emphasis on specific locales. There is a view that national campaigns on violent extremism may actually promote or attract extremism.

The national government serves in advisory and capacity-building roles. Local partners are expected to build upon the knowledge and experiences generated in the past. National support of the local approach is focused on identifying high-priority areas that are of interest to or might host radicalized individuals, and developing specific plans and approaches. The NCTV develops tools and training and offers them to local police departments, social workers, and other stakeholders, both directly and through an online database.

Another focus for countering violent extremism is on lone actors and persons who travel to combat zones. Systems are being built by local governments around these individuals. The NCTV invests in information systems that combine reports and red flags from different parties in order to distill signals about potential actions by violent extremists and to develop a tailored approach. There are a handful of programs, administered to individuals, which focus on disengagement and rehabilitation.

The Netherlands participates in the European Policy Planners Network on Countering Polarization and Radicalization, which is occasionally attended by the United States.

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