“Real chance” of terrorist attacks in the Netherlands; Threat level now “significant”

“Real chance” of terrorist attacks in the Netherlands; Threat level now “significant”

The terrorist threat level was increased to the second-highest point on Tuesday, with a warning of a “real chance” of an attack, the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) wrote in a report. The threat level was increased to its highest point in over four years.

The threat assessment system used by the NCTV is a scale rising from the least severe first level, to the most severe fifth level. The NCTV raised the alert from level three, dubbed “significant,” to level four, called “substantial.

The amount of known appeals for attacks issued by jihadist organizations has increased, partly due to the escalation in conflict in the Middle East and the destruction of copies of the Quran which have been set on fire in various countries. Recent attacks in neighboring countries show that these calls are also being heeded, the NCTV stated.

The threat level jumped from level two to level four in early 2013. It remained in that position until Dutch authorities lowered the assessment down to level three, where a threat is considered “conceivable.” This happened at the end of 2019. The organization wrote that “extra security measures” have recently been implemented, but the NCTV did not elaborate about them.

France has already been at its highest threat level since mid-October, when a teacher was stabbed to death at a school in Arras. A few days later, two Swedish football fans were the victims of an attack in Brussels. Just last week, a German tourist died in Paris as part of a stabbing where the perpetrator reportedly had terrorist intent.

The NCTV also pointed to recent arrests in Germany, with authorities there saying they prevented attacks on Christmas markets in that country. People were also arrested in the Netherlands this year on suspicion of developing concrete plans to commit terrorist attacks.

According to the NCTV, these arrests show that jihadists are prepared to commit violence and are making preparations for it. But they also show “that European intelligence and security services can identify terrorism, and thwart attacks.”

Alongside the threat from jihadist groups, the NCTV has reported that the threat from right-wing extremism remains present. “There remains a possibility that a minor or young adult, radicalized within the right-wing extremist online environment, may resort to violence,” they noted.

The NCTV also highlighted the threat of anti-institutional extremism, “which generally does not pose a threat of violence.” However, the NCTV noted that there are small minorities that “are considering when violence can be justified or preparing for a violent confrontation with the government.”

For these three groups, the online world plays “a relatively large role in spreading propaganda, forming networks, and making new contacts.” The researchers also noted an increase in online hate messages targeting Jews and members of the LGBTI community.

The NCTV also observed that particularly young extremists do not always turn to violence driven by ideology. Some, in fact, look for an ideology that aligns with “pre-existing fantasies of violence.”

In December 2019, the NCTV lowered the threat level in the Netherlands from 4 to 3.
Multiple European countries have already increased the threat level

Several European countries have recently increased their threat levels. Belgium was among them following an attack in Brussels in October in which three people were killed. The suspect allegedly expressed support on social media for the Islamic State.

Belgium’s OCAD raised the alert on their four-point scale from level two, an average threat, to three, a serious threat. The treat analysis organization noted “tensions resulting from the escalated conflict in the Middle East” and Quran burnings in Sweden, as two examples.

After the stabbings in Arras, the French level rose from a “risk of attack” to an “acute threat.” The stabbing left one man dead and three others hurt. The suspect allegedly pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State.

The German Federal Office for Defense Protection (BfV), a government agency that deals with the protection of the rule of law in Germany, recently spoke of an increased risk of a terrorist attack in Germany. The BfV warned at the end of November that a higher threat level was warranted, mainly due to the war in Gaza. The German authority said that the situation in Gaza has had an impact on many people, and can lead to the radicalization of people who are emotionally affected.

The BfV said there was a stronger threat from jihadists, militant pro-Palestinians and right-wing extremists. They also warned of violence against the Jewish community. According to the BfV, right-wing extremists are also using the situation to incite violence against Muslims and migrants.

Israel also adjusted its travel advice for its citizens abroad in early December. According to the Israeli Security Council, there is an increased threat to people of Israeli and Jewish descent, and Jews present in many countries, including the Netherlands.

Source » nltimes.nl