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Terror arrest

December 25, 2010

Dutch police have arrested 12 Somali men on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack in the Netherlands. Extremists recently called for revenge for politician Geert Wilders' anti-Islam statements.

A harbor in Rotterdam
Police have not released details about the alleged terror plotImage: picture-alliance / dpa

Dutch police said on Saturday they had arrested 12 Somali men suspected of planning a terrorist attack in the Netherlands.

The arrests took place in Rotterdam on Friday night. Police were acting on a tip from the Dutch intelligence and security service, the AIVD, the public prosecutor said.

"The [AIVD] message reports that a number of Somalis wanted to make a terrorist attack in the Netherlands soon," the prosecutor said.

A telephone shop and four homes were searched in the terror raid, along with two motel rooms in the south of the country, but no weapons or explosives were found.

Six of the 12 men, aged 19 to 48, lived in Rotterdam. Five others had no fixed address and one man had traveled to the Netherlands from Denmark.

Under threat

Dutch liberal leader Mark Rutte (left), Christian Democrat leader Maxime Verhagen (center) and Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders (right)
The Dutch minority government is dependent on the support of Wilders (right) and his partyImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Islamic extremists have called for violence against the Netherlands in revenge for anti-Islam statements made by the far-right politician Geert Wilders.

Wilders has described Islam as a "fascist ideology" and called the prophet Muhammad a "barbarian, mass murderer and a pedophile."

On Saturday, Wilders said the arrests demonstrate "the enormous vulnerability of the Netherlands and the entire free West" to acts of terrorism.

"We must not trivialise this, but fight it firmly with all available means," he added.

Netherlands seen as a legitimate target

Wilders' Freedom Party has a growing influence in the country and currently backs the minority Liberal-Christian Democrat coalition government.

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

Officials did not say when or where the attack was allegedly planned to take place. The men were still be interrogated on Saturday.

Author: Holly Fox, Martin Kuebler (dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Ben Knight