U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2004 - The Netherlands

In November 2004, the Netherlands was rocked by the murder of prominent Dutch film director Theo van Gogh by a Dutch Moroccan acting out of radical Islamic convictions, prompting a national debate on the need to toughen immigration and counterterrorism legislation.

In June, the Dutch for the first time successfully convicted two individuals of terrorist activity; two men suspected of plotting to bomb the US Embassy in Paris were sentenced to six and four-year jail terms, respectively. The appeals court ruled information by the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) served as a legitimate base for starting criminal investigations, thereby allowing use of AIVD intelligence as evidence. Justice Minister Donner submitted legislation codifying the court's ruling to allow the use of intelligence information in criminal proceedings. The bill is still awaiting parliamentary action.

The Act on Terrorist Crimes, implementing the 2002 EU framework decision on combating terrorism, became effective in August. The Government also reorganized its counterterrorism efforts to centralize and coordinate information sharing, currently shared by multiple ministries and agencies. As part of this effort, the Justice and Interior Ministries have proposed additional legislation to enhance the ability of law enforcement to detect and prevent terrorist activity and to hold and prosecute terrorists.

The six-month Dutch EU Presidency placed a priority on counterterrorism issues. The US and the EU initiated a dialogue on terrorism finance issues in September. The Netherlands finance ministry and Europol hosted a joint US-EU workshop for prosecutors and investigators of terrorism finance cases in November. EU leaders approved updated Presidency action plans on counterterrorism and terrorist financing in December.

Using national sanctions authority, the Dutch blocked the accounts and financial transactions of a HAMAS fundraiser, the al-Aqsa Foundation, and al-Qa'ida-affiliated Benevolence International Nederland. In July, the Netherlands froze all financial assets of the Dutch branch of al-Haramain. The Dutch have also been active in seeking support for an EU designation of Hizballah as a terrorist group.

The Netherlands continued its cooperation with the United States on shipping and port security. Under the Department of Energy's (DOE) Megaport/Second Line of Defense Initiative, four radiological monitors (provided by DOE) became operational in the port of Rotterdam in February. An estimated 31 additional monitors (funded by the Dutch) will be installed by the end of 2006. Improved security targeting at the port resulted from bilateral discussions. In July, the Government approved an experiment with air marshals on certain transatlantic flights, and the Dutch also permitted US immigration officials to return to Schiphol Airport to assist with US-bound passenger screening (now part of the Immigration Assistance Program).


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