Arrests 'to thwart potential terror attack'
19 July 2004 , AMSTERDAM — With the Netherlands on a heightened terror alert, police arrested two men on Saturday on suspicion they were planning an attack on soldiers participating in the Nijmegen Four Day March.
19 July 2004
AMSTERDAM — With the Netherlands on a heightened terror alert, police arrested two men on Saturday on suspicion they were planning an attack on soldiers participating in the Nijmegen Four Day March.
The two suspects were possibly part of a long inactive terrorist cell, but it has not been confirmed if the threatened attack is linked to the general terror alert issued for the Netherlands on 9 July. Neither suspect was armed at the time of arrest.
The main suspect has reportedly been identified as a Syrian, Yvar H., 37, who entered the Netherlands in 1989 as an asylum seeker. Defence lawyers have confirmed the man is of Syrian ancestry.
H. has been under surveillance by the Dutch secret service AIVD for some time and lives with his wife and two young daughters in the Gelderland village Ooij, newspaper De Telegraaf reported on Monday.
Defence lawyers identified the second suspect as a 33-year-old man from Lebanon with no fixed address in the Netherlands.
Nijmegen City Council refused to confirm if the alleged attack was aimed at the 2,000 Dutch soldiers and 3,000 international soldiers participating in the city's annual walking event.
H. was arrested while shopping with his family in Nijmegen on Saturday and police also raided his home, allegedly seizing goods, photos and documents.
The suspect's house is considered as a meeting point or possibly a stop over for other suspicious foreigners. He allegedly gave accommodation to another foreigner — possibly the second arrested suspect — in the week prior to his arrest.
Police received confidential information on Thursday 15 July that a attack might be carried out on military personnel participating in the four day walking event in and around Nijmegen.
An investigation team of 270 police officers was immediately set up last week in response to the threat and inquiries led to the two arrests at about midday on Saturday, news agency ANP reported.
The Public Prosecution Office (OM) said the motive for the possible attack remains unclear and the attack could have been serious threat or an attempt to spark panic. Further arrests have not been ruled out.
The Nijmegen walking event has attracted about 48,000 participants this year, but no cancellations have been recorded since news broke of the alleged attack threat. The walk starts on Tuesday.
After the Netherlands was issued with a terror warning earlier this month, security was tightened around Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and the Dutch Parliament in The Hague. Security at special events was also intensified as the AIVD said Islamic extremists might be preparing a terrorist attack.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news + terror alert