Terror alert: The Hague, West Holland ‘targeted’
16 July 2004
AMSTERDAM — A letter, allegedly from al-Qaeda, suggests that European organisations in The Hague and Brussels are potential targets for terror attacks. ‘Soft targets’ where the public gather in Western Holland are also thought to be most at risk, it was reported Friday.
The Dutch government issued a terror alert on 9 July and security has been stepped up at government and other buildings, train stations and infrastructure points during the week.
The alert has not been rescinded and Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has cautioned the public to be watchful for suspicious activity.
The Netherlands took over the six-month rotating EU presidency from Ireland at the beginning of July.
Security is also being tightened for public events this weekend.
The organisers of the Tilburg Fair have decided to hold an extra meeting to discuss security measures in light of the increased terror alert in the Netherlands. “We are going to review everything one more time,” a spokesperson for Tilburg city council said.
The Tilburg fair is the largest event of its kind in the Benelux region and is expected to attract over 1 million visitors over the next 10 days.
Security is also being stepped up at the Extreme Outdoor dance festival in Best will is expected to draw 25,000 people on Saturday.
The threatening letter was sent to the UN headquarters in New York this week, Dutch Interior Minister Johan Remkes confirmed to RTL television news on Thursday evening.
“I know that a letter surfaced there. We have taken precautions in relation to locations in this country,” Remkes said.
But Remkes said the letter did not have any bearing on the earlier decision to institute the alert. “The letter is very recent and is currently being evaluated on its merits by the [Dutch security service] AIVD.”
The minister said he could not say if the letter is serious or not.
Remkes also revealed at a press conference that the terror alarm is concentrated on the western Dutch provinces Noord Holland, Zuid Holland, Noord Brabant and Zeeland.
Possible targets, he indicated, are ‘soft targets’, such as government buildings and places where large groups gather.
Earlier it was reported the government instituted the alert after receiving information on 9 July pointing to ‘one or more plans for violent actions’.
The information came from ‘within Holland and abroad’. Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner said the threat was being taken ‘very seriously’.
The ministers briefed the media in general terms about the threat on the day an ultimatum from al-Qaeda expired.
Al-Qaeda had offered European countries, including the Netherlands, a three-month cease fire to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and other Islamic countries.
Osama bin Laden’s terror network set a deadline of 15 July for the troops to withdraw and warned of renewed attacks if their demands were not met.
The Netherlands has 1,300 marines in Iraq and has supplied soldiers to the multinational force in Afghanistan.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news + al-Qaeda, terror alert