Dutch arrest 12 Somali Muslims in Christmas Terror Plot

AMSTERDAM: Dutch police arrested 12 Somalis on Christmas Eve on suspicion of plotting an imminent terrorist attack in the Netherlands.

REUTERS-The alleged plot was uncovered in a country seen as a potential target for militants over its former military role with NATO forces in Afghanistan and due to the growing influence of an anti-Muslim party at home.

Twelve men aged between 19 and 48 were arrested late on Friday after a message was received from the Dutch intelligence and security service AIVD, prosecutors said in a statement.

“The (AIVD) message reports that a number of Somalis wanted to make a terrorist attack in the Netherlands in the short term,” the prosecutors said. They did not say what the intended target was.

Since October, the anti-Muslim Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders has backed a new minority Liberals-Christian Democrat government, which plans to restrict immigration and ban the full-body covering burqa worn by Muslim women.

“Jihadists consider the Netherlands as a legitimate target because of the Dutch presence in Afghanistan, even while our mission has ended. The tougher Islam debate is also a factor that shapes jihadists’ view of the Netherlands,” a spokeswoman for the Dutch counterterrorism unit NCTb said.

She said the Netherlands is home to about 27,000 Somali Muslims out of a total of 1.9 million Dutch citizens with a non-western background, according to data from Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

Somalis were the largest sub-Saharan asylum group in the Netherlands, most often unemployed, and young men aged between 15 and 25 were relatively often involved in criminal activities, a study commissioned by CBS found in 2005.

Six of the suspects lived in Rotterdam, five did not have a permanent home address and one was from Denmark, according to the prosecutors.