Dutch secret service pessimistic as radicalisation of Muslims in Holland spreads to 'moderate' Turks
May 3, 2005
Dutch Secret service stays pessimistic
The radicalisation of Muslims in the Netherlands continues and is now reaching out to young people of Turkish origin. Despite a series of arrests, the possibility of terrorist attacks cannot be ruled out, and it will take several more years before the AIVD – the Dutch secret service - reaches something near full strength. These are just some of the conclusions of the AIVD's annual report for 2004, presented at the end of last week to the parliament in The Hague.
The head of the intelligence and security service, Sybrand van Hulst, refrained from using the kind of pessimistic words he uttered just a year before: ‘those fighting terrorism are not winning. There is not even a prospect of winning.' But the message contained in the report on 2004 - the year in which filmmaker and writer Theo van Gogh was murdered - makes sombre reading nonetheless.
Sybrand van Hulst told Radio Netherlands that he remains pessimistic:
"The threat of radical Islamic terrorism has grown in recent years, and continues to do so, both at home and abroad. In addition to that, we are also dealing with small, local networks of Muslim youths."
While the phenomenon of local networks has received a great deal of media attention recently, the AIVD warns against losing sight of the international aspect of the potential terrorist threat to the Netherlands. The annual report states that ‘in 2004, the AIVD carried out investigations into a number of internationally operating cells which were also active inside the Netherlands.' The investigations apparently revealed that these cells maintain a wide range of international contacts and involve extensive foreign travel:"So far, it has not been established that these cells are being directly controlled from a higher level, but there is certainly evidence pointing in that direction."
Controlled from above
He did, however, make it clear that the AIVD is fully conscious that radical Muslims know they're being monitored:"That has sharpened their awareness of their own security, so we need to proceed creatively. I assure you that we are doing precisely that."
Cat and mouse
The annual report also shows that the task of combating terrorism is taking place at the expense of other activities, including counter-espionage and the active acquisition of information from abroad. The latter is, according to the report, now taking place on the basis of what is know as a ‘vari-focus model': the main focus of attention is directed at the most important issues and countries, with other issues being dealt with more superficially.