U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 - The Netherlands

The Netherlands continued to respond to the global terrorist threat with leadership and energy in the areas of border and shipping security, terrorist financing, and support of efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Netherlands has 378 personnel deployed to the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan's Baghlan province as part of the NATO ISAF mission, and 254 personnel and Special Forces participating in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan since April 18 on a one-year deployment. Dutch OEF personnel and Special Forces troops (more than 700) supportorted of the Afghan elections in August. The Dutch pledged 75 million euros toward the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund to support the transition from humanitarian to reconstruction assistance between 2004 and 2006.

In July, the Amsterdam District Court sentenced Mohammed Bouyeri to life imprisonment for the murder of film director Theo van Gogh, the attempted murder of eight police officers, and threatening the life of MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The court found that Bouyeri acted "with terrorist intent" in November 2004 when he murdered Van Gogh, impeded the work of Hirsi Ali, and possessed a firearm. Bouyeri did not appeal the verdict. Bouyeri is also charged, along with 13 other alleged members of the so-called Hofstad group, with membership in a terrorist organization. The trial of these 14 alleged members of the Hofstad terrorist network began on December 5. The 14, including Bouyeri, were charged with participating in a criminal organization "with terrorist intent." Bouyeri was not sentenced because he is already serving a life term. This was the first case tried under the Terrorist Crimes Act that took effect in August 2004. Under the Act, membership in a terrorist group is a crime; ordinary group members may be sentenced to a maximum jail sentence of eight years, and leaders to 15 years.

A new terror alert system became operational in June. This early warning system was designed to trigger a clear and rapid response to terrorist threats by both the public and private sector. It linked the sector-specific measures to the latest threat information from the National Counterterrorism Coordinator. There are four alert levels: basic, low, moderate, and high threat. Initially, the port of Rotterdam, Schiphol Airport, the petrochemical industry, the railways, and the water supply sector were included; the natural gas, electricity, and nuclear sectors were added in October. By 2007, a total of 14 sectors will be part of the system. The first bi-annual national counterterrorism exercise, "Operation Bonfire," was held in the spring.

Using national sanctions authority, the Dutch blocked the accounts and financial transactions of a HAMAS fundraiser, the al-Aqsa Foundation, and the al-Qaida-affiliated Benevolence International Nederland in 2003. In July 2004, the Netherlands froze all financial assets of the Dutch branch of al-Haramain. The Dutch have been active in seeking support for an EU designation of Hizballah as a terrorist group. They also played a crucial leadership role in establishment of an informal US-EU dialogue on terrorism finance, pursuant to commitments of the June 2004 US-EU Declaration on Combating Terrorism.


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