NCTV Threat Assessment: threats in and to the Netherlands more vague and multifaceted
At this time, there are no concrete indications that radicalised individuals are preparing an attack. However, there are groups and individuals in the Netherlands that are becoming radicalised or that are already radicalised and could pose a threat to national security. A terrorist attack in the Netherlands remains a possibility. As a consequence, the threat level in the Netherlands remains at 3 out of 5 (‘considerable’). This is the main takeaway from the 57th edition of the Terrorist Threat Assessment Netherlands (DTN57) published by the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV).
The nature of the terrorist threat is changing
The threat level has not changed since 2019, but the NCTV has determined that the nature of the terrorist threat has changed over the past few years. It has become more vague and multifaceted. Jihadism remains the primary terrorist threat, but the threat from the jihadist movement in the Netherlands and surrounding countries has diminished since the last decade. With the rise of far-right accelerationism, terrorist attacks inspired by this inherently violent ideology have also become conceivable. Moreover, belief in conspiracy theories within radical anti-government protest groups may give rise to extremist and even terrorist activities as well.
Jihadist movement in the Netherlands
Because of its relatively large scale and degree of organisation, the jihadist movement in the Netherlands remains the primary terrorist threat in the country. However, the NCTV notes that repressive government action and the absence of mobilising themes are causing stagnation and relative inactivity within the movement. Nevertheless, some Dutch jihadists still have the intention to commit an attack, although there are no indications that they are preparing plans at this time. The development of this movement remains unpredictable and the threat may increase again, for instance as a consequence of mobilising events or when individuals who have been convicted of terrorism are released from prison.
As previously found by the NCTV, so-called accelerationism poses the primary threat of violence from right-wing extremists. This movement propagates terrorist violence as a legitimate tool to achieve its ideal of a white ethnostate. One of the pillars of accelerationism is the so-called replacement theory, a conspiracy theory that is gaining traction in the public debate in the Netherlands. Accelerationists believe that this alleged 'great replacement’ can be countered through violence and by expediting a race war. Although accelerationist attacks in Europe have so far been few in number, with accelerationists mainly being active online, an attack by this movement is not unfeasible, given its inherently violent ideology.
Within the Netherlands, a group of anti-government extremists has turned against the government and other institutions out of fundamental mistrust, anger and a sense of injustice. While this group developed as a radical undercurrent of the coronavirus protest movement, it is increasingly turning its attention to other subjects, such as the nitrogen issue and the Dutch farmers’ protests. Part of this group also embraces conspiracy theories. These conspiracy theories undermine public trust in the institutions of the democratic rule of law. The spread and normalisation of such theories may cause individuals to commit acts of extremism or even terrorism.