Dutch police arrest Somalis over terrorism plot

Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:08pm GMT

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

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 Somalis 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.

AIVD, which declined to comment, warned in its 2009 report Somalia and Yemen were new countries from which the Netherlands faced terror risks.   Continued...

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