SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The threat of terrorist attacks by people who have never travelled to IS territory is as great as the threat from jihadists who have returned to the Netherlands, according to the Dutch counter terrorism unit’s latest assessment.
The NCTV says IS is using the network of the Dutch nationals who joined the terrorist group to inspire the sympathisers who remained behind. This, the agency says, is particularly worrying because inspiring people in Europe to carry out attacks could be an alternative to organising jihadist cells from Syria and Iraq.
‘The Netherlands is named in IS propaganda as a legitimate target,’ NCTV chief Dick Schoof said. ‘Various Dutch or Dutch-speaking jihadis have threatened violence against the Netherlands in 2017,’ referring to the apparent threat to attack this summer’s women’s European football championships.
Nevertheless, the threat level in the Netherlands remains at four out of five, or substantial, the NCTV says. The NCTV says there are still around 135 Dutch nationals in IS territory, a number of whom are currently in refugee camps in Iraq and Syria.
The agency expects that women with their children will attempt to return to the Netherlands in the coming period. ‘These women will probably adopt the role of victim in order to reduce government attention for the risks’, says the NCTV.
However, since the summer IS has explicitly called on women to join the actual fighting and they too pose a serious risk, the NCTV said. The Dutch government has a policy of not providing any help to people wishing to return to the Netherlands from jihadi-controlled territory.
The Netherlands has so far avoided terrorist attacks such as those carried out in France, London and Belgium.
The new report also comments on the rise in violent threats from far right terrorist within Europe. While there are no signs of a similar rise in the Netherlands, the polarized climate in the Netherlands ‘could feed radicalisation and in some cases, lower the threshold for violence,’ the NCTV said. ‘This goes for all ideologies.’ (DutchNews)