The Jihadist Threat To The Netherlands, Belgium And France
January 20, 2015
By EMERSON VERMAAT
On November 12, 2014, Dutch suicide bomber "Abu Abdullah Al-Hollandi" blew himself up at the entrance of a federal police headquarters in west Baghdad. Eleven people were killed and 23 were wounded. ISIS claimed to be responsible for the operation. There are now at least 180 Dutch jihadists who joined dangerous terror groups such as ISIS (IS) and Al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda. Thirty-five of them returned to Holland, and they pose a very serious security threat. They are ticking time bombs. "We can't monitor all of them," Dutch security and police officials say.
Abu Abdullah Al-Hollandi's real name was Sultan Berzel, a Dutch-Turkish teen-ager from the southern city of Maastricht, a hotbed of crime and jihadism in the Netherlands. Before traveling to Syria, Sultan left a farewell letter for his father Abdessamad Berzel: "Do not worry, Allah will take care of me." Then he made several phone calls to his father who was indeed deeply worried about his son's fate. In his first phone call Sultan told his father that he was in Raqqa, Syria, the so-called capital of the "Islamic State" (IS). Sultan's last phone call to his father was on November 9, 2014. "He told me he was in Mosul in Iraq," Abdessamad Berzel said in a TV interview. "He wanted a longer conversation with me. I suspect it was because he knew it would be our last conversation on the phone." It was only three days later that Sultan Berzel became a suicide bombers in Baghdad. There are now four suicide bombers from the Netherlands who blew themselves up in Syria or Iraq.
If a Dutch suicide bomber can kill police officers in Baghdad, he can do the same, or worse for that matter, in a Dutch, Belgian, French or German city. Police officers were recently targeted by well armed and well trained jihadists in France and Belgium. Three police officers died in Paris. Franck Brinsolaro and Ahmed Merabet died on January 7, 2015, during the terrorist attack on the editorial office of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. The attackers – two French Algerian brothers named Saïd and Chérif Kouachi – shouted "Allahu Akhbar!" and "We avenged the prophet." The prime targets for the Al-Qaeda terrorists, though, were the magazine's cartoonists, especially editor-in-chief Stéphane Charbonnier whom the terrorists and Al-Qaeda in Yemen held responsible for "offensive" cartoons of the Islamic prophet Mohammed. Many Muslims believe that offending the prophet Mohammed deserves the death penalty.
One day before he killed four Jewish victims in the kosher grocery store in Paris, Amedy Coulibaly, a radicalized second-generation Malian immigrant and a notorious criminal, killed female police officer Clarissa Jean-Philippe.
Although he had never traveled to Syria, Coulibaly had sworn allegiance to the ruthless ISIS-leader Al-Baghdadi. Police also found ISIS-flags, kalashnikovs and explosives in his apartment.
Dutch and French jihadists in Syria praised the attacks in Paris. A jihadist from the Dutch city of The Hague who calls himself "Fighting Journalist" twittered from Raqqa, Syria: "Vive la France!" (Long live France!). "Those who offend the prophet will pay the price, even after twenty years," he added.
There are about 350 jihadists who left Belgium and joined ISIS or Al-Nusra in Syria. One hundred jihadists returned to Belgium. Most of them are Belgian Algerians and Belgian Moroccans, but there are also very fanatical converts among them These jihadist returnees pose a very serious security threat. It was early January 2015, that three jihadist returnees from Syria hired an apartment in Verviers, a dreary Belgian town near the Dutch and German border.
Verviers is a jihadist hotbed. Ten jihadists from Verviers joined ISIS in Syria. Some of them returned to Belgium.
The three jihadists who arrived in a nondescript and small house in Rue de la Colline in Verviers early January, planned a terrorist attack on local police officers and the local police station. Some sources claim they planned to abduct police officers and behead them in front of a camera. The Belgian security service or "Staatsveiligheid" as well as the police were aware of the plot. They had monitored numerous phone calls and other communications.
On January 15, just a few hours before the three Belgian ISIS operatives wanted to execute their plan, special police units conducted a raid against them. From their small house near the railway station, the terrorists immediately opened fire on the police with kalashnikov "AK-47" assault rifles.
Although they were extremely well armed and trained, two terrorists died, one of them was injured. Federal Public Prosecutor spokesman Eric Van der Sypt told a press conference that four kalashnikov assault rifles or, as he described them, "weapons of war," a number of hand weapons, as well as explosives, a number of police uniforms, falsified identiy documents, walkie talkies, radios, four GSMs and a huge sum of money had been found in the terrorist's hideout. The police uniforms, he said, were meant to be used in operations against the police. They planned to assassinate police officers in the streets or at a police station. ("Doden van politiemensen op openbare plaatsen of in commissariaten").
Belgian TV reported that one of jihadists who was killed in Verviers was originally from the Netherlands. The usually well informed Flemish newspaper "Het Nieuwsblad" writes that the other terrorist who was killed was Souhaib El Abdi ("Sousou"), a Belgian Moroccan who lived in Anderlecht.
House searches were conducted in Anderlecht, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Sint-Agatha-Berchem and Brussels. Twelve people were arrested. Marouane El Bali, who survived the police raid in Verviers, lives in Molenbeek, another jihadist hotbed in Belgium. He now denies that he is involved in terrorism but his denials are not very credible.
The mastermind of the plot reportedly was a Belgian Moroccan named Abdelhamid Abaaoud (Abou Omar Soussi). Abaaoud was originally from Molenbeek, he then traveled to Syria as an "Islamic State" jihadist and finally ended up in Greece. The Greek police recently arrested two suspected terrorists, one of whom was linked to the terror cell in Verviers. But they failed to arrest Abaaoud. Belgian police believe that Abaaoud was in charge of the terror cell in Verviers.
A similar plot to attack police officers existed in the Netherlands, the Dutch newspaper "De Telegraaf" reported. On October 15, 2014, Dutch police arrested a Moroccan man in Amsterdam. He is suspected of planning terrorist attacks on police stations.
Terrorists are often better armed than ordinary police officers who usually do not wear bullet proof vests or carry machine guns. That is why well armed Belgian army troops now patrol in Brussels and Antwerp. They are there to protect police stations and Jewish sites. "You don't have the firepower to stop people with weapons of warfare," unless troops are involved, Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever said. "We have an important Jewish community in this city which is very visible and an important target for Islamic terror," he told VRT network.
A German TV news program recently reported that the terror cell in Verviers not only targeted police officers but also Jewish schools. I would not be surprised if this is true.
Emerson Vermaat is an investigative reporter in the Netherlands. Website: www.emersonvermaat.com.
L1TV, Avondgasten, November 26, 2014 (TV interview with Abdessamad Berzel).
Nltimes, 13 november 2014, Dutch suicide bomber attacks Iraq police station kiling 11: ISIS, http://www.nltimes.nl/2014/11/13/dutch-suicide-bomber-attacks-iraq-police-station-killing-11-isis/
De Volkskrant (Amsterdam), January 8, 2015, p. 9 ("Islamcritici Nederland moeten alert blijven"). "Fighting Journalist."
België Eén Journaal (Belgian TV news), January 16, 2015 (press conference Belgian public prosecutor).
Het Nieuwsblad (Belgium), January 17 and 18, 2014, p. 1-3 ("Souhaib El Abdi: De man die een bloedbad wilde aanrichten onder agenten").
Gazet van Antwerpen, January, 17 and 18, 2015, p. 4 ("12 huiszoekingen, 12 arrestaties"). Souhaib El Abdi lived in Anderlecht
België Eén Journaal, January 17, 2015 (Abdelhamid Abaaoud).
Het Nieuwsblad (internet version), January 18, 2015 ("Brein terreurgroep Verviers kan opnieuw toeslaan"), http://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20150118_01479539 (Abdelhamid Abaaoud).
België Eén Journaal, January 18, 2015 (Greek police arrest two terror suspects, Abaaoud was not among them).
De Telegraaf, January 17, 2015, p. 2 ("Nederlands moordplan in de maak").
Jewish Political News & Updates, January 17, 2015, http://jpupdates.com/2015/01/17/photos-belgian-army-troops-patrol-outside-jewish-sites-antwerp/
Heute-Journal, ZDF (German TV news), January 15, 2015.