Jelle van Buuren on NOS.nl about the reduced threat level for terrorism
Jelle van Buuren, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs, in conversation with the NOS, warns to remain alert despite the reduced threat level for terrorism.
On 9 December 2019, the threat level for terrorism in the Netherlands was reduced from 'substantial' to 'significant', but there is reason to remain alert. Ten years ago, the same thing happened when the threat level was lowered because the power of al-Qaeda in Europe had diminished. However, at the same time, the budgets of the police and the Dutch intelligence service were cut. Van Buuren says that what happened in 2009 was a trauma in that sense. After the budget cuts at the AIVD, among other bodies, things went seriously wrong in the years that followed. Examples include the attacks in Paris (2015), Brussels (2016) and Manchester (2017).
The loss in the AIVD's budget has now been restored, and there are police forces that can be specially deployed in the event of a terrorist threat. This may be a factor why larger attacks have failed to materialise in the Netherlands. There is also the factor of luck that the Netherlands should not underestimate. 'In the IS department that coordinated attacks, there were a lot of French people, and yes, they think of France rather than the Netherlands when it comes to an attack.' Over the past few years, this mainly concerned jihadist terrorism. Yet attacks were also committed from right-wing extremist ideologies. Van Buuren argues that the threat from this perspective is much lower than the threat from Jihadism. Right-wing extremist threats often come from individuals because groups are not well organised.
Jelle van Buuren warns for a similar slackening as in 2009 after this new reduction in the threat of terror. He argues that terrorism expertise must be maintained at both national and local level, despite the reduced threat level. 'An event that can act as a driving force can also take place now. For example, new charismatic leaders who stand up, that may be outsiders who return, or prisoners who are released and inspire others to commit an act of terrorism'.