NCTV Terrorist Threat Assessment: attack in the Netherlands remains possibility
Some elements in the Dutch jihadist movement remain intent on carrying out a terrorist attack. In some cases, this has led to specific plans. The potential threat posed by right-wing extremist elements remains limited to lone actors. In short, a terrorist attack in the Netherlands remains a possibility. Consequently, the threat level remains at 3 out of a possible 5. On the other hand, the coronavirus crisis has made a large-scale attack less likely at this time. This is the main takeaway from the 52nd Terrorist Threat Assessment published by the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV).
The main terrorist threat to the Netherlands is still posed by the jihadist movement. Two groups of jihadists in particular are a cause for concern. The first group is formed by detained jihadists who may exert a negative influence on each other in prison. The second group comprises returning foreign combatants who have joined terrorist organisations and gained combat experience.
The right-wing terrorist attack in Christchurch (New Zealand) inspired multiple perpetrators worldwide, including in El Paso (USA), Oslo (Norway) and Halle and Hanau (Germany). A right-wing terrorist attack carried out by a lone actor is conceivable in the Netherlands as well. This assessment is based mainly on the possibility that a Dutch lone actor is radicalised and commits a right-wing extremist act of violence. Dutch right-wing extremist groups exist in the margins and are non-violent. There are currently no inspirational leaders capable of building up large followings.
Jihadists consider the coronavirus to be an act of God. Both ISIS and al-Qaeda have used the pandemic to rebuke the West. Now that Western military personnel have returned to their own countries to contribute to fighting the pandemic, jihadists have more freedom to act. At the same time, their freedom of movement is being restricted by the measures that have been put in place all over the world. As the coronavirus threat has significantly reduced the number of large gatherings, large-scale attacks are less likely at this time.
Extremism and polarisation
As before, the Terrorist Threat Assessment has identified a number of extremist and polarising trends. A recent trend, dating back to early April, is the number of extremist incidents aimed at telecoms masts all over the Netherlands, ranging from sabotage to arson. Those opposing these masts have accused the government of using the rollout of 5G as a cover to undermine public health, the environment or people's privacy. The climate change discussion has caused a split in Dutch left-wing extremism. Far-left and left-wing extremist groups that were previously devoted to other causes have linked the climate theme to their own agendas. Dutch left-wing extremism is limited in both scope and activity, certainly compared to similar movements in countries such as Germany and France. It is mainly restricted to words rather than actions.