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Terrorist Attacks

Terrorist Attacks

In general, the Dutch law enforcement authorities manage to prevent Terrorist Attacks. Significant law enforcement and judicial actions related to counterterrorism in 2017 included:

 On November 13, a district court in Rotterdam convicted a Dutch woman for preparing and promoting acts of terrorism but acquitted her of participation in a terrorist organization. She traveled to Syria in 2015. She was sentenced to two years in prison, with 13 months suspended.

 On November 2, a district court in Rotterdam convicted a man for preparing to commit a terrorist attack and sentenced him to four years in prison. Authorities arrested him in December 2016 after hearing of plans to attack the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam. Police found an AK-47, ammunition, illegal heavy fireworks, and instructions on how to make a bomb in his residence.

 On September 13, the Minister of Justice and Security announced the revocation in absentia of Dutch citizenship for four foreign terrorist fighters. This marked the first time the government used new legislation, which entered into law March 1. All four individuals are presumed to be in Syria.

There have been several terrorism-related crimes in 2019. On March 18, 2019, a man shot and killed random streetcar passengers in Utrecht, killing four of them and seriously wounding two. In a handwritten note left at the scene of the attack and in later interviews with police, he cited religious motives for his actions, including an alleged mockery of Islam. Immediately after the attack, the government briefly raised the threat level to "critical," the highest level, though only locally, allowing resources to be redirected to hunt down the perpetrator. Prosecutors have charged the man, Gokmen Tanis, with multiple counts of murder with terrorist intent.

On July 23, 2019, a district court in The Hague found Oussama Ahraf Ahlaf, who returned from the Netherlands, guilty of committing a war crime in Syria. The suspect was photographed posing next to a crucified corpse, thereby degrading the personal dignity of the victim. The court sentenced the suspect to seven and a half years in prison.

On Oct. 14, 2019, an Amsterdam district court convicted Javed Sultani, 20, of stabbing two American tourists at Amsterdam Central Station on Aug. 31, 2018. The court found him guilty of two counts of attempted murder with terrorist intent and sentenced him to 26 years and eight months in prison (the maximum for the charge) and nearly $3.5 million in damages to the victims. Sultani, who was born in Afghanistan and lived in Germany as an asylum seeker, traveled to the Netherlands to carry out the attack because he believed politician Geert Wilders was insulting his religion.

On Nov. 18, 2019, a district court in The Hague convicted Junaid Iqbal, a 27-year-old Pakistani national, of planning a terrorist attack on politician Geert Wilders and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. In August 2018, Iqbal traveled to The Hague and posted a video on 'Tasebok' threatening to kill Wilders after Wilders announced he was organizing a Muhammad cartoon contest.

On Nov. 25, 2019, police arrested two men on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack in the Netherlands. The investigation began in October and was based on information from the General Security Service and Intelligence Service that the individuals wanted to learn how to make explosives. The individuals reportedly told undercover agents that they intended to carry out a terrorist attack on an unknown target in the Netherlands by the end of the year using car explosives or suicide vests. The individuals reportedly told undercover agents that they intended to carry out a terrorist attack on an unknown target in the Netherlands using car explosives or suicide vests.

In addition to the above, Dutch courts convicted seven people in 2019 of financing terrorism in Syria and sentenced them to nine months in prison. As of December 2019, the government's national terrorist watch lists include 139 people and four organizations whose assets have been frozen.

In 2020, monitoring found no evidence of terrorist attacks in the Netherlands, which experts attribute to the beginning of the pandemic and the exodus of Islamists from the country.

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