Expert downplays Dutch terror risk

12th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

12 March 2004, AMSTERDAM — In the wake of the devastating bomb attacks in Madrid on Thursday, a Dutch terrorist expert has played down fears that the Netherlands could also be targeted.

12 March 2004

AMSTERDAM — In the wake of the devastating bomb attacks in Madrid on Thursday, a Dutch terrorist expert has played down fears that the Netherlands could also be targeted.

Edwin Bakker, of the Clingendael Institute, told newspaper De Volkskrant that the Netherlands was relatively low down on the list of countries that faced the "wrath of Islam".

It remains unclear who carried out the attacks. The Spanish government was quick to point the finger at Basque separatist group ETA.

Following the discovery of detonators and a tape with verses from the Koran in a van linked to the bombers, ministers shifted slightly and said the possibility of Al Qaeda involvement was being investigated.

If terrorists associated with Osama bin Laden were involved, this would seem to increase the risk to other European states.

But Bakker said that the Spanish and Dutch involvement in the "war on terror" were not identical.

Dutch Prime Minster Jan Peter Balkenende gave "political, but not military" support for the US-led invasion of Iraq. There are also 1,300 Dutch marines involved in patrolling a southern province of Iraq.

Stationed there since the summer of 2003, the Dutch troops might soon be ordered to remain there until at least the end of this year.

"Spain's support for the US is far more overt. Spain was prominent in the build up to the war in Iraq, while the Netherlands was not," Bakker said.

Turning to the Dutch position of "political, but not military" support, Bakker said the stance had caused confusion among Dutch people and among terrorists.

He said the Netherlands was rarely mentioned on the websites of Muslim fundamentalist groups.

Meanwhile, Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner will shortly put draft legislation before the Cabinet to make it easier to ban terrorist organisations in the Netherlands.

Under the proposed law, the inclusion on the EU's list of terror groups will be sufficient for a judge to ban the movement in the Netherlands. Currently, a judge has to look into a group's aims and activities before issuing a ban.

The finances and property of a movement added to the EU list are immediately frozen and third parties are banned from providing goods or services to the organisation.

Banning an organisation does not necessarily lead to its dissolution, but anyone carrying out activities for the banned group is liable to prosecution, the Justice Ministry said.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news + terrorism

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