Dutch anti-terrorist technology goes to the UN

With the help of Dutch technology the member states of the United Nations can now track the travel movements of terrorists. Today, Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok officially handed over the Travel Information Portal (TRIP) to the UN at the organisation’s headquarters in New York, in the presence of Secretary-General António Guterres, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism Dick Schoof. An agreement has been signed by the Netherlands and the UN to make this possible. Today, Minister Blok announced that this year the Netherlands would be investing €15 million in terrorism prevention, €2.5 million of which will go to capacity-building efforts in other countries to prepare them for the introduction of the TRIP system.

This Dutch-designed investigative system can be used to analyse Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to identify the travel movements of terrorists and other international criminals. This is information that becomes available when people book travel tickets. PNR data can help to track down and stop terrorists. Thanks to Dutch technology, the TRIP system can now be used around the world.

In developing this system, the Netherlands has made an essential contribution to enhancing global anti-terrorist detection capabilities. This result is in line with one of the Netherlands’ three priorities as a member of the UN Security Council, namely to combat insecurity. It is also in line with the government’s pledge – set down in the current coalition agreement – to work, in the UN and in other forums, to bring ISIS fighters to trial. ‘They must be tracked down before they can be tried,’ Mr Blok noted.

Global Counterterrorism Forum

The system was officially presented to the United Nations at UN Headquarters in New York, prior to the annual meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, which the Netherlands is currently co-chairing with Morocco. This Forum brings together the foreign ministers of 29 countries and the EU to fight terrorism around the world. Mr Blok leads this coalition on behalf of the Netherlands. ‘The Netherlands is not an island,’ the minister remarked. ‘Sharing information with our international partners can prevent future attacks. One benefit of increased international cooperation is that it’s harder for combatants to travel to and from conflict zones.’

The terrorist threat is still very real. This summer a Dutch national was killed in Tajikistan. In August a man stabbed two Americans at Amsterdam Central Station. ‘In territorial terms ISIS may have been defeated, but its extremist ideas are still alive,’ Mr Blok said. Returnees and their families remain a challenge. And the link between criminal networks and terrorism is growing stronger all the time.’

Strike at the roots of terrorism

Today, under the chairmanship of the Netherlands, the 30 members of the Global Counterterrorism Forum agreed to focus on the origins of terrorism and to strike at the roots of the phenomenon. They pledged to work to eliminate the causes of extremist behaviour and devote more attention to the return of foreign fighters and their families. In this same spirit the Netherlands is investing this year in the prevention of terrorism. Funds have been set aside for, among other things, training airport personnel and police to recognise threats and signs of radicalisation. The projects will be rolled out in six priority regions: the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, the Balkans, North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.