A “major terrorist attack” has been foiled in the Netherlands, according to the Dutch public prosecutor’s office, which announced Thursday the arrest of seven men suspected of wanting to act at a “big event.”
“The police arrested seven men on Thursday […] suspected of being at a very advanced stage in the preparation of a major terrorist attack in the Netherlands,” the prosecutor said in a statement.
“The public prosecutor and the police are convinced that a terrorist attack was foiled with the arrest of the suspects” late afternoon in Arnhem (east) and Weert (south), said the prosecutor.
In a probe that lasted several months, police observed a “terrorist group” revolving around a 34-year-old man of Iraqi descent who was sentenced in 2017 for attempting to travel to armed group Islamic State (IS), he said.
” aimed at A big event”
The man, identified as Hardi N. by the local media, is suspected of being the brain of the foiled attack. He planned an attack “at a major event in the Netherlands and wanted to kill many victims, according to the Dutch intelligence services (AIVD),” the prosecution said.
“We intervened now because the planning of the attack was at a very advanced stage”, the threat was “extremely serious,” said Dutch public television spokesman Jirko Patist, adding that all members group had been arrested.
The age of the accused, from Arnhem, Rotterdam and villages near these cities, ranges from 21 to 34 years. Two of them were also sentenced for trying to reach Iraq or Syria.
The suspects planned to carry out the attack “using explosive belts and AK47 Kalashnikovs during an event and detonate a car bomb at another location,” said the prosecutor.
The investigation has not yet determined the exact target of the suspects, who will be presented to an investigating judge in Rotterdam on Friday.
The arrests were made by anti-terrorism teams from the Special Intervention Service (SID), supported by observation teams and helicopters. In total, 400 people were deployed.
At the time of their arrest, the men were in possession of firearms and were “looking for grenades, explosive belts and raw materials to make other bombs,” according to investigators.
In June, two men suspected of planning terrorist attacks in France and the Netherlands were arrested in Rotterdam. The prosecution had said in September that they were “close” to a passage to the act.
The target of the possible attack in France was not specified. In the Netherlands, according to the investigators, the men had “identified several possible targets” in Rotterdam, including “a police station and the Erasmus bridge”.
On August 31, a 19-year-old Afghan man stabbed two Americans at the Amsterdam train station. According to the prosecution, he was targeting the Netherlands because he believed that Islam is “frequently insulted”.
The attack at Amsterdam’s train station came a day after the Afghan Taliban called for attacks on Dutch troops after Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders attempted to hold a cartoons contest for the Prophet Muhammad.
Wolfgang Russel graduated from the University of North Dakota in 2005. Wolfgang grew up in Ontario Canada, but moved to Boulder for university. Wolfgang has written for several major publications including Valley City Times-Record. Paul is a community reporter and also covers world events.