PM urges public vigilance to thwart terror

13th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

13 July 2004 , AMSTERDAM − With security already stepped up across the country, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has urged the public to maintain vigilance as the nation confronts its present terror alert.

13 July 2004

AMSTERDAM − With security already stepped up across the country, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has urged the public to maintain vigilance as the nation confronts its present terror alert.

Balkenende said the Netherlands was given a signal on 9 July that the nation should be on extra alert and that the warning was solidly based. He said the warning was also intended to inform the public that it should be on the look out.

Armoured police wagons and extra police officers moved into surveillance positions at key Dutch infrastructure points last Friday after the secret service AIVD warned the government it has indication that Islamic extremists might be preparing a terrorist attack.

And in a Tuesday-published interview with newspaper De Telegraaf, Balkenende said: "Citizens must not be scared if they suddenly see extra security personnel. You do that to indicate that there is a certain threat. The population will now and again come across tighter security measures."

The prime minister also said the terror alert was given to ensure the public became familiar with the extra police surveillance set up at locations such as the Schiphol Airport motorway tunnel in Amsterdam and around the Dutch Parliament in The Hague.

He said authorities also wanted the public to also become involved in ensuring safety in their own region, school and neighbourhood. His statement was not only referring to the present terror alert.

The alert remained in force after the weekend and the Interior Ministry has indicated it will remain in place indefinitely. It is the first such high-profile alert since a bomb threat was made against Amsterdam and Rotterdam motorway tunnels at the end of September 2001. The attack was never carried out.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry has admitted it has no estimate of the costs of the introduction of a new terrorist alert phase. It also does not yet know who will take responsibility for the costs of the system, which must be introduced by the Spring of 2005.

The Cabinet is currently devising a new alarm system similar to that used in the US. The system uses a colour code − ranging from green to red − to signify the alarm phase and must still be approved by Parliament. It is not known what category the present terrorist threat falls under.

The ministry said it has not been ruled out that companies that own important infrastructure − such as telecoms firm KPN or power company Nuon − be held responsible for the costs of the additional security.

"We expect to present definite plans this Autumn. How high the bill will be and who will pay for it is not yet known," a spokesman told newspaper De Volkskrant.

At Schiphol Airport − where tighter security measures have been in force since April 2003 − passengers are paying a security surcharge of EUR 10.55. That amounts to EUR 100 million in additional security for the Amsterdam airport.

Harbour companies in Amsterdam and Rotterdam that take extra security measures are also responsible for the costs, which amount to tens of millions of euros.

[Copyright Expatica News + Novum Nieuws 2004]

Subject: Dutch news + terror alert

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