Tue Dec 28, 2010
One of 12 Somali men arrested in Rotterdam before Christmas for alleged terrorism offences will remain in police custody for a further three days, Dutch prosecutors said on Tuesday.
The others have been released or handed over to immigration authorities but two of those are still suspects, prosecutors said in a statement posted on their website.
The 29-year-old man still in custody was among those arrested on Dec. 24 after the Dutch intelligence and security service AIVD said several Somalis were planning an imminent attack in the Netherlands.
No weapons or explosives were found, prosecutors said, and the intended target was not known.
The Netherlands is seen as a target for Muslim radicals because of its military involvement in Afghanistan and the anti-Islam views of Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, which supports the coalition government.
As Europe’s biggest port and a large oil storage base, Rotterdam is strategically important and a potential target for attack.
The newspaper De Telegraaf, quoting an unidentified intelligence source, said some of the Somalis arrested had planned to shoot down an Apache helicopter at the nearby Gilze-Rijen air base using a rocket-propelled grenade.
Dutch intelligence and the counter-terrorism unit NCTb declined to comment. The Dutch have used Apaches during missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“The activity of the (prosecutor) and the police on Friday focused primarily on preventing a possible attack,” the prosecutor’s office statement said.
“The arrests followed on an AIVD message, which reported that a number of Somalis wanted to commit a terrorist attack in the Netherlands on Dec. 24 or 25.”
Western authorities have been on high alert since a Middle East-born man blew himself up in Stockholm two weeks ago and a senior Iraqi official issued a warning that al-Qaeda was planning attacks in the United States, Britain and Europe. (Reporting by Gilbert Kreijger and Sara Webb; Editing by Andrew Dobbie)