Counterterrorism

The Netherlands is working to combat terrorism in a variety of ways. For example, it monitors potential terrorists, promptly identifies individuals who may be becoming radicalised and provides at-risk people and buildings with additional security.

Security of potential targets

The Dutch government takes security measures to protect people and organisations that could become the target of attacks. This reduces the chances of a terrorist attack.

And if an attack does happen, the Netherlands is prepared to minimise the impact.

Recognising radicalisation

Terrorists go through a radicalisation process before turning to violence. Teachers and youth workers try to recognise this and report their suspicions to the police and criminal justice authorities, if necessary. In this way, it is possible to stop radicalisation in time and prevent it from leading to terrorism.

Punishing terrorists

Terrorist offences are crimes carried out with the intent to cause terror. Terrorist intent is a circumstance that makes the punishment more severe. So the sentence for an offence carried out with terrorist intent will be harsher  than for the basic offence alone. This applies not only to people who carry out attacks but also to those who intend to carry out an attack. For example, planning an attack or completing a terrorist training programme are also criminal offences.

General counterterrorism measures

The Dutch government has taken a series of measures to combat terrorism. For example:

  • Websites that use hate speech or call for violence or discrimination are taken down.
  • The Counterterrorism Alert System warns the government and key sectors (such as drinking water companies and the energy sector) about terrorist threats.
  • The Royal Netherlands Air Force monitors Dutch airspace around the clock.
  • Special units from the armed forces and the police collaborate in the Special Intervention Service (DSI). This service arrests and detains those suspected of terrorist offences. In the most extreme cases it eliminates them.
  • The police monitor people who may pose a terrorist threat.
  • The government has taken measures to combat terrorist financing.
  • The intelligence and security services have increased their capabilities. The new Intelligence and Security Services Act (WIV) helps keep the Netherlands and Dutch military personnel abroad safe.
  • The national terrorism list is used to keep a record of individuals and organisations involved in terrorist activities. The assets of these individuals and organisations are frozen. 

The measures to combat terrorism in the Netherlands are set out in the National Counterterrorism Strategy for 2016-2020.

Working with international partners to share information on terrorism

The Netherlands wants to improve international cooperation and information sharing in order to combat terrorism. The Netherlands also intends to make funds available to establish a Passenger Information Unit for the Netherlands (Pi-NL) The unit will analyse information provided by airlines, such as reservation data,  and work together with similar units in other countries. The information can be used to combat serious crime and terrorism.

Types of terrorism

Jihadism is currently the main source of terrorism. However, there are other forms of terrorism. For example, the government is also alert to terrorist threats posed by left-wing and right-wing extremists and by animal rights activists.