Netherlands: ‘major’ terror plot foiled by police

Seven men arrested on suspicion of planning gun and bomb attack on public

Dutch terror police
Dutch police officers conduct an investigation at the residence of one of the arrested suspects in Arnhem
(Image credit: Piroschka Van De Wouw/AFP/Getty Images)

Police in the Netherlands say they have foiled plans for a “major” terror attack on a public event.

Seven men aged between 21 and 34 were taken into custody on Thursday by “heavily armed police” in the towns of Arnhem, southeast of Amsterdam, and Weert, near the Belgian border, Sky News reports.

“Three of them, including the ringleader, have previous convictions for attempting to join IS [Islamic State] in Syria,” says English-language site DutchNews.

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According to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the suspects “were looking for AK47s, handguns, hand grenades, suicide jackets and the ingredients for a car bomb” for an attack targeting an as-yet-unspecified “event”.

“They had also been looking for training in the use of guns and the suicide jackets,” the department said, adding that “the investigation into the exact target is still ongoing”.

The seven men have been held in isolation and allowed contact only with their lawyers ahead of a first hearing before a court in Rotterdam today, DutchNews reports.

Dutch police had been tracking the 34-year-old Iraqi national accused of leading the cell since April, following a tip-off from the country’s security service.

The investigation was “accelerated” this month in light of evidence that the suspects were getting closer to carrying out their plot, Sky News reports.

According to Dutch national broadcaster NOS, the suspects were in possession of a total of five small firearms between them when arrested.

“They were quite far in their preparations,” Minister for Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus told NOS.

“In a sense it is serious, but luckily it’s also good news – a terrorist cell that was plotting an attack has been taken down.”

The terror threat in the Netherlands will remain at its current classification of “substantial”, one level below the maximum risk.

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