Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2017, 14:36 GMT

Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 - The Netherlands

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 April 2014
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 - The Netherlands, 30 April 2014, available at: [accessed 21 November 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 and international counterterrorism cooperation. Cooperation with U.S. law enforcement remained excellent. In its March quarterly terrorism threat analysis, the Dutch National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV) raised the national threat level from "limited" to "substantial," the second highest rank in the Dutch threat system. The main factor for elevating the threat level was the uptick in the number of Dutch nationals or residents travelling to conflict areas (especially Syria) that could constitute a threat when they return to the Netherlands. Other factors related to the threat level included: increased signs of radicalization in small groups of young Muslims domestically, the increase in scope of some terrorist networks in the Middle East and North Africa to operate freely, and that the Netherlands may have been elevated as a target in the eyes of violent extremists because of Dutch involvement in military missions in various Muslim countries, as well as alleged discrimination against Muslims in the Netherlands itself. Domestic lone wolves remained on the radar. Resilience by the Dutch population to terrorism remained high.

The Netherlands was a strong voice on Lebanese Hizballah for a decade, and in 2013 the Dutch Foreign Minister publicly highlighted the dangers the group posed and called on the EU to designate it as a terrorist organization. On July 22 the EU designated Hizballah's military wing.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Netherlands continued to make use of counterterrorism legislation that facilitated arrests and convictions. The Netherlands' law enforcement institutions demonstrated a capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist threats. There is both good interagency cooperation and national-local municipality cooperation. The main partners in the national Counterterrorism Strategy include the Ministry of Security and Justice, under which the NCTV, Public Prosecutors Office, and National Police fall; local governments (the mayor being responsible for public order); and the Ministries of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (responsible for the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD)); Foreign Affairs, Social Affairs and Employment, and Defense. The reorganization of the police into one National Police structure came into effect on January 1, 2013. This multi-year, country-wide reorganization effort transitioned the 25 separate regional forces and one national bureau into one national organization overseeing 10 regions. The Central Criminal Investigations Service (formerly the National Crime Squad) of the National Police focuses on combatting terrorism. The Netherlands issued a new National Cyber Security Strategy on October 28.

The Netherlands continued to improve its border security. Dutch ports of entry have biographic and biometric screening capabilities. One of the country's main points of entry is Schiphol Airport, where a camera monitoring system is in place. For the purpose of fighting illegal immigration, the Netherlands continued to use Advance Passenger Information (API) at airports to look at inbound passengers coming from some non-EU points of embarkation. The Dutch police continued to use a license plate recognition system to fight illegal immigration. The Netherlands is one of 14 EU member states to receive a European Commission grant to explore how travel information is best used in the fight against terrorism and serious crime, and is coordinating with other member states that received this funding.

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 generally cooperates with the United States' "no board" recommendations made regarding certain passengers bound for the United States. In 2012, the Netherlands signed a Letter of Intent with the United States on cyber-security cooperation as well as an agreement on cooperation in science and technology concerning homeland and civil security matters.

Significant law enforcement actions included:

  • On July 17, police arrested a 19-year-old woman who allegedly served as a recruiter for the conflict in Syria. She was released two weeks after her arrest without restrictions and traveled to Syria. The investigation was ongoing at year's end.

  • In mid-August, German police arrested two Dutch men in Germany at the request of Dutch police. The two, Mohammed el A. and Hakim B., were traveling in a rental car allegedly en route to Syria. They were extradited to the Netherlands and in custody awaiting trial at year's end.

  • On September 6, convicted terrorist Samir Azzouz was released from prison after having served two-thirds of his sentence. He was arrested in 2004 and was convicted in two separate trials in 2007 and in 2008. In the 2007 case he was charged with preparing for an attack on government buildings and was sentenced to four years. In the 2008 case he was charged with preparing to commit a terrorist attack and for participation in a terrorist organization, and was sentenced to nine years. His release has several restrictions, including wearing an ankle monitor.

  • On October 23, a Rotterdam court found Omar H. guilty of incitement and preparation for the criminal act of arson. He was arrested in 2012 while making preparations to depart for Syria. He received a sentence of 12 months, of which four were suspended.

  • In May, convicted terrorist Jason Walters, member of the Hofstad group, was released for good behavior after having served two-thirds of his sentence. Walters was arrested in 2004. He was convicted and sentenced in 2010 to 13 years for participation in a terrorist organization and attempted murder of members of the arrest team.

  • In 2012, 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. Four of the participants will face trial. Others were released, with a handful handed over to immigration.

  • On February 1, a suicide bomber attacked the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, for which the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) took responsibility. The media reported the DHKP-C leader had issued the order for the attack from the Netherlands. Due to the presence of DHKP-C in the Netherlands, Dutch law enforcement responded to U.S. concerns regarding the security of U.S. and Dutch interests in the Netherlands.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: 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 (CFATF), a FATF-style regional body. The European Commission sets many rules for countering terrorist finance in directives that EU member states then implement via national legislation. Dutch officials cooperated with the United States in designating terrorist organizations and individuals as well as interdicting and freezing assets.

On January 1, the government of the Netherlands amended the Act on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. The amended legislation includes the following: specific requirements for customer due diligence (CDD) related to legal arrangements; an exchange of information among supervisory authorities; good faith as a condition for protection from criminal liability; a requirement to immediately obtain information in case of reliance on third parties for CDD; and politically exposed person (PEP)-related requirements that include non-Dutch PEPs resident in the Netherlands. This amendment was in line with recommendations from the FATF.

On September 1, new legislation that made the financing of terrorism a separate criminal offense under the Dutch criminal code came into effect. Prior to this it had been punishable as preparation for a criminal act. The maximum penalty for financing terrorism is eight years in prison. This legislation is in line with FATF recommendations and EU directives.

Dutch citizens leaving to join foreign fighters has the potential to result in increased financial support for terrorist groups originating from the Netherlands. Dutch authorities are involved in monitoring this and have made changes to their anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance framework to address it.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 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). The Dutch cooperated with EU and OSCE counterterrorism efforts and 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.

The Netherlands' international approach is focused on countering radicalization and strengthening the counterterrorism capacity of other countries with special attention to human rights and the rule of law. In 2013, the Dutch focus increasingly turned to national security and the foreign fighter issue; the Netherlands sought bilateral, multilateral, and international opportunities for exchanging information and experiences. In September, the Netherlands and Morocco proposed a Foreign Terrorist Fighters Initiative working group under the GCTF, which will begin to meet in early 2014. The Dutch also cooperated in an informal, ad hoc basis with other EU member states interested in how EU systems could better manage the traveling foreign fighter problem. The Netherlands participated in the ad hoc European Policy Planners Network on Countering Polarization and Radicalization, which was occasionally attended by the United States. The Netherlands was one of the founding members and hosted the secretariat of the EU's Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN), which issued a document on good practices on foreign fighters in 2013.

The Middle East, North Africa, and the Sahel are priority areas for the Netherlands. The Netherlands funded counterterrorism capacity building projects in Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco, Algeria, Kenya, and Indonesia in 2013. It supported the organization Free Press Unlimited in its project "Radio Life Link Somalia," and also supported a program on rule of law and criminal justice capacity and cooperation in North Africa that was implemented by the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation. Government support also went to the International Centre for Migration Policy Development and programs related to terrorism and countering terrorist finance carried out by the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate.

The government worked with the International Centre for Counterterrorism (ICCT) – an independent body established in The Hague in 2010 with Dutch government encouragement – on implementing programs related to the collection and use of evidence collected by the military in the criminal prosecution of terrorist cases, the role victims can play in counter-radicalization, and rule of law capacity building projects in the criminal justice sector. In 2011, the ICCT and the International 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 GCTF Ministerial in Istanbul. Related projects continued in 2013.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The resilience of the Dutch population to violent extremism is high. In general, efforts by political and religious leaders to promote violent extremism seemed to have little effect on Muslim communities or the general population as a whole. In 2013, however, there were indications of increasing radicalization, and some increasing radicalization to violence, among small groups of young Muslims and a sharp rise in the amount of propaganda on the internet – including social media – that openly promoted participation in the Syrian conflict. The government assessed that the open manifestation of pro-jihadist sentiments by young people suggested increased self-confidence and militancy.

After completing the 2007-2011 Action Plan: Polarization and Radicalization, the Netherlands shifted from a broad, general, catch-all effort on countering radicalization to violence to a more narrowly focused, localized method. There were no major communication efforts or public awareness campaigns. The main focus areas of countering violent extremism efforts were persons who travel to combat zones and identifying lone actors.

Under the localized approach, the national government serves in advisory and capacity-building roles. The NCTV develops tools and training and offers them to schools, social workers, and other stakeholders, both directly and through an online database. 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. However, in 2013, the NCTV and AIVD stepped up support to local authorities and partners due to municipalities being less familiar with the problem of foreign terrorist fighter travel. 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 develop a tailored approach. The police extended and expanded a two-year pilot program from 2011, targeting potential lone wolves. The project, called "Threat Management," mapped out all known potential lone wolves and included detailed profiles as well as individually tailored approaches. The approach is based on similar action plans from the UK, Sweden, and the United States.

Programs are tailored by local governments around individuals of concern and focus on identification, investigation, and prosecution. There are a handful of programs, administered to individuals, which focus on disengagement and rehabilitation. Multidisciplinary case conferences are held in relevant municipalities with a view to finding the best approach. Partners involved may include, but are not limited to: the municipal government, police, the public prosecutor's office, youth care, and child protection services. Interventions are case-specific and vary in intensity and design.

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