Arrest 'thwarts terror attack' on Dutch troops
24 November 2003 , AMSTERDAM — Iraqi police have reportedly thwarted plans to attack Dutch peacekeeping soldiers after arresting a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist and the Cabinet has requested a security analysis before making a decision to extend the mission.
24 November 2003
AMSTERDAM — Iraqi police have reportedly thwarted plans to attack Dutch peacekeeping soldiers after arresting a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist and the Cabinet has requested a security analysis before making a decision to extend the mission.
The suspect allegedly entered Iraq from Saudi Arabia in September and police claim that inquiries have indicated he tried to obtain weapons, explosives and recruits to assist him in carrying out various attacks, a nu.nl news report said on Saturday.
Iraqi authorities said the man was arrested at the start of October in a hotel in the southern Iraqi city of As Samawah, where the Dutch troops are stationed. There are presently 1,100 Dutch marines assisting in security operations in the war-torn Islamic nation.
One of the people the Al Qaeda suspect allegedly tried to recruit was a police officer. The man also allegedly told three people that he was planning a bomb attack against oil pipelines in Basra and that he then planned to carry out an attack against Dutch soldiers in As Samawah.
The suspect did not have any identification papers with him at the time of his arrest and has not given a statement to police. It is expected that he will be handed over to the Dutch military.
Nu.nl based its report on claims made by Japanese press agency Kyodo and Dutch daily newspaper De Telegraaf has since reported confirmations from Iraqi authorities.
Meanwhile, amid suspicions that terror attacks are being prepared in the Iraqi province patrolled by Dutch troops, the Cabinet postponed making a decision on Friday to extend the Dutch peacekeeping mission by an extra six months.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said the Cabinet wanted more information about the security situation in the Iraqi province of Al Muthanna before making a decision, an NOS news report said.
But he said there was a "positive basic attitude" and he expected the Cabinet will make a decision after a briefing by the Defence Ministry. It is unclear whether secret Dutch, British or US intelligence will be used.
Defence Minister Henk Kamp previously said he had sufficient information to make a well-considered decision. He was in favour of extending the mission, but still wanted more information about the length of stay.
Balkenende said the postponement was not connected to the recent bombings in Istanbul, which killed more than 50 people. "The attacks are a great concern, but that does not mean we cannot accept our responsibility. It would be wrong if the international community turned away from Iraq," he said.
The Prime Minister also said the cabinet wanted to proceed with care: "It is an important decision that needs public and political support".
It was reported last week that Foreign Affairs Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer demanded a security assessment and while the Lower House of Parliament was not expected to resist the expected six-month extension of the mission, it too demanded a new security analysis. Nevertheless, the marines are expected to be relieved by land force soldiers in about two months time.
But a recent suicide bombing killed 19 Italian peacekeeping troops not far from where the Dutch are deployed. A safety analysis has also reportedly been given to the Dutch government indicating that terrorists are preparing attacks in the Dutch patrol region and are intermingling with the local population. It also alleges that terrorists are trying to recruit local residents for possible attacks.
The intelligence corroborates an earlier assessment conducted by the CIA, which recently warned against the spread of terrorism in Iraq, also in the southern provinces. The warning came shortly before the suicide bomb attack against the Italian HQ in Nasiriya.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news