Overview: The Netherlands continued to respond effectively to the global terrorist threat in the areas of border and transportation security, counterterrorist financing, countering violent extremism (CVE), and bilateral and multilateral counterterrorism cooperation. In its March 2013 quarterly terrorism threat assessment, the Office of the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) raised the national threat level from "limited" to "substantial" (the second highest rank), where it has remained throughout 2016. In 2014, the Dutch government released a Comprehensive Action Program to Combat Jihadism (Action Program) with measures to halt the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to Syria and elsewhere. The plan focused on risk reduction, travel intervention, disruption of recruiters, countering radicalization to violence, addressing the use of social media, and information exchange and cooperation. In September 2016, the government announced an additional increase of US $10.5 million in structural counterterrorism spending in 2017, which will grow to US $23 million by 2019.

The Netherlands is implementing UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2178 to prevent potential foreign terrorist fighters from leaving the country. The government has pursued criminal cases against prospective and returned foreign terrorist fighters and against foreign terrorist fighter recruiters. The government has a multi-agency strategy to counter radicalization to violence, which focuses on community involvement at the local level.

The Netherlands is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and has liaisons embedded in U.S. Central Command, at various operational command centers, and at the Strategic Communications Cell. In 2016, the Netherlands conducted air strikes in Iraq and Syria, provided force protection of coalition partners, and contributed military personnel and trainers in Iraq. The Netherlands and Turkey co-chair the Coalition's Foreign Terrorist Fighters Working Group.

2016 Terrorist Incidents: On February 27, five men in Enschede threw Molotov cocktails at a local mosque while people were inside; a passerby was able to extinguish the fire before anyone was hurt. The court convicted the men of arson with terrorist intent. Each suspect was sentenced to four years in prison. This case was the first instance in which prosecutors used terrorism statutes to charge perpetrators for a right-wing terrorism attack.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Netherlands continued to use counterterrorism legislation and legislative supplements to the criminal code to address terrorism. On April 1, legislation entered into force that allows the government to strip Dutch nationality from dual nationals convicted on the charge of "preparing to commit a terrorist act." On June 1, legislation entered into force to limit the availability of chemical precursors for explosives. Under this law, private individuals can no longer purchase precursors without a license and companies have to report suspicious transactions, disappearances, and thefts. Government agencies working on counterterrorism include: NCTV; the national police; the prosecutor's office; local governments; the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD); and the Ministries of Security and Justice, Interior and Kingdom Relations, Foreign Affairs, Social Affairs and Employment, and Defense.

A reorganization of the national police to improve operational capacity and effectiveness has been underway since 2013 and is scheduled to be completed in 2018. The government prioritizes community policing and the first-line role of local police officers. Within the national police organization, the Central Criminal Investigations Service is the specialized counterterrorism unit. The National Prosecutor's Office also has dedicated counterterrorism prosecutors.

The Netherlands has continued to strengthen its border security. Dutch ports of entry have biographic and biometric screening capabilities. The government coordinates and freely shares information related to foreign terrorist fighters with INTERPOL and Europol. Authorities share information about individual travelers through the Schengen Information System 2, the Visa Information System, and the system for fingerprints of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants (EURODAC). The Netherlands collects Advance Passenger Information data for flights coming from selected points of embarkation outside the European Union (EU). The Netherlands is also working towards implementation of the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive.

The Netherlands remains 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.

Significant law enforcement actions related to counterterrorism included:

  • On March 27, authorities in Rotterdam arrested a French suspect identified as Anis B. Police found 45 kilos of ammunition in the suspect's apartment. French authorities had a warrant for his arrest for participation in a terrorist organization. The Dutch government extradited Anis B. to France on August 4.

  • On July 13, a Dutch woman appeared on Kurdish television, saying she had escaped from ISIS with the help of the Peshmerga. She claimed her Palestinian-German husband had forced her and her children to depart for the Middle East. Shortly after her appearance on television, however, doubts emerged about her story. Upon her return to the Netherlands, the Dutch police interviewed her and placed her under arrest. At year's end, she remained under detention pending further investigation.

  • On December 9, Dutch authorities announced they had arrested a 30-year-old Rotterdam resident, Jaouad A., on suspicion of preparing to commit an act of terrorism. Authorities found an AK-47 and two ammunition magazines, along with highly explosive fireworks, an ISIS flag, several cell phones, and €1,600 (US $1,680) in cash in his residence.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Netherlands is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and is one of the Cooperating and Supporting Nations of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, an FATF-style regional body. The Financial Intelligence Unit – Nederland (FIU-Netherland) is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. At the end of 2016, the Netherlands was working to implement the Fourth EU Money Laundering Directive. The Netherlands has worked to designate terrorist organizations and individuals, as well as to interdict and freeze assets. The Netherlands also participated in the counterterrorist financing working group of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition.

Dutch authorities monitor financial transactions and freeze the assets of persons on terrorist watchlists. While the Dutch implement UN Security Council 1267 listings under EU regulations, they also do so under their own national laws, which immediately freeze assets when an individual or entity is listed at the United Nations (UN). The government publishes the list of individuals or entities in its official journal, but keeps private the information on the amount of assets frozen or seized. As of December 2016, the government had frozen the assets of 89 individuals and three organizations. On March 16, a district court convicted a man for sending nearly US $17,750 to his brother who was fighting in Syria. The suspect used money transfer services to transfer the funds overseas.

Non-profit organizations are not required to file reports about suspicious transactions but may choose to apply to a private entity for a "seal of approval" certification for their financial transactions. Law enforcement can access this entity's data bases with a court order. The FATF concluded that the requirements to obtain this "seal of approval" are stringent. These requirements include knowing donors and beneficiaries and having safeguards to make sure directors and employees do not have a conflict of interests.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Countering Violent Extremism: The national government's Comprehensive Action Program to Combat Jihadism, released in August 2014, contains measures to strengthen communities, build resilience to radicalization, and prevent persons from becoming foreign terrorist fighters.

According to Dutch government-funded research projects on the drivers of violent extremism in the Netherlands, feelings of economic or social isolation can create a breeding ground that leaves people vulnerable to radicalization to violence. When these factors are combined with a "trigger," such as the death of a loved one or an altercation with authorities, a person can become radicalized to violence.

The Dutch government uses a multi-disciplinary approach to countering violent extremism (CVE) and develops individually tailored plans of action to provide intervention for individuals suspected of adhering to (or being susceptible to) violent extremism. Local governments, with the support of NCTV, work in close cooperation with the police, public prosecutor, social workers, child protective services, educators, and community leaders to develop and implement their plans. This approach prioritizes the use of preventive measures, including mentoring, counseling, and access to job training programs and other social services to steer individuals away from becoming radicalized to violence. Similar programs also rehabilitate former violent extremists. Under this model, the government generally views repressive measures, including arrest and prosecution, as steps to take only when preventive measures have failed. Returned foreign terrorist fighters undergo a threat assessment by the government; some returnees are prosecuted.

Dutch authorities and communities have shared their experiences with U.S. counterparts, including through a CVE city exchange program between Arnhem and Phoenix. On December 22, the national government announced its intent to invest more than US $6.5 million in 18 local governments for tailor-made programs to prevent and counter radicalization to violence.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment also has a Social Stability Expertise Unit, which is a team of experts who provide advice to local governments and communities on problems related to violent extremism. The government also runs a Family Support Unit, which assists parents and family members of radicalized individuals, and an Exit Facility, which offers a "way out" for extremists who want to reintegrate into society.

International and Regional Cooperation: The Netherlands participates in the United Nations, Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), EU, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. As holder of the EU Presidency in the first half of 2016, the Netherlands pushed for the adoption of the Road Map to enhance information exchange between EU member states. As co-chair of GCTF, the Netherlands hosts the GCTF Administrative Unit. With Morocco, the Netherlands chairs the GCTF Working Group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters. The Netherlands has dedicated GCTF officers at four embassies. The Netherlands is on the governing board of the three GCTF-inspired institutions: the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism (Hedayah) in Abu Dhabi, the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law in Malta, and the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund in Switzerland. The Netherlands also participates in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

In international cooperation, the Netherlands prioritized CVE, stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, and countering terrorist financing. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs appointed regional security coordinators at six embassies, who are dedicated to CVE. The Netherlands continued to finance a wide variety of capacity building projects, such as Free Press Unlimited and the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation's program on rule of law and criminal justice capacity and cooperation in North Africa. The Dutch government continued to work with the International Centre for Counterterrorism, based in The Hague. On September 21, the Netherlands announced an additional US $2.6 million for international projects to counter terrorism and radicalization to violence in local communities where radicalization to violence is a major problem, such as in Mali.


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