Overview:  The Netherlands continued to respond effectively to the global terrorist threat in border and transportation security, counterterrorist financing, CVE, and bilateral and multilateral CT cooperation.  The national threat level remained “significant” (Level 3 of 5) throughout the reporting period, with the government emphasizing the diffuse and multifaceted nature of the terrorist threat.  The National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV) noted that jihadist-inspired attacks remained a principal though decreasing threat to the Netherlands.  The government determined terrorist attacks prompted by “right-wing extremist accelerationism” were also conceivable and warned that belief in conspiracy theories among anti-government protestors could lead to terrorist attacks.  The Netherlands published a new comprehensive national CT strategy in 2022, rooted in prevention and interagency cooperation across the government and in close collaboration with local municipalities.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  There were no reported terrorist incidents during the reporting period.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  The Netherlands saw no significant changes in law enforcement structures, capacity, international cooperation, or border security legislation in 2022.  A new National Counterterrorism Strategy covering a four-year period, 2022-26, reflected the government’s assessment that “violent, extremist lone actors” pose the greatest terrorist risk to the Netherlands.  It prioritizes the detection and combating of “violent extremist and terrorist content” in the online domain and gives special attention to ensuring the safe reintegration of individuals into society after detention.  The strategy highlights the detection of terrorist travel movements, through improvements in interoperability between border and detection systems such as the Schengen Information System and the European Travel Information and Authorization System, while further developing and strengthening the Netherlands’ passenger information unit.

Significant law enforcement and judicial actions related to CT included these two:

  • In August a man was sentenced to 30 months in prison for financing terrorism.  He was convicted for transferring $107,000 to 25 female Dutch and Belgian ISIS supporters in Syria through a hawala banker, including helping these individuals escape from camps.
  • In October a man was convicted of incitement to commit criminal offenses against public authorities and disseminating right-wing terrorist material online.

While the government does not actively repatriate FTFs or their associated family members from camps in Syria, several exceptions were made in 2022 to support prosecutions for individuals suspected of terrorist offenses.  The Cabinet approved a November 1 operation that brought back 12 women and 28 children from northeastern Syria.  This operation followed a separate February 4 action which brought five women and 11 children back to the Netherlands from the Roj displaced persons camp in Syria.

The NCTV assessed adherents of so-called accelerationism as the principal REMVE, or “right-wing extremism,” threat in the Netherlands.  Dutch-speaking REMVE actors continued to skew young (ages 13 to 30), coming from unstable socioeconomic situations, and encountering REMVE ideologies largely through the internet and online gaming.  NCTV emphasized growing concerns over the “normalization” of antisemitic “replacement theory” in mainstream public debate, as well as the resumption of public rallies among REMVE groups following the relaxation of COVID-19 measures in early 2022.  While the government assessed little risk in direct violence from REMVE groups, it stressed that these ideologies threaten to undermine democratic institutions, the rule-of-law, and social cohesion.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  The Netherlands is a member of FATF and is one of the Cooperating and Supporting Nations of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.  Its FIU, the Financial Intelligence Unit-Netherlands, contributes to European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation’s (Europol’s) financial intelligence team.  As of December, the government’s national terrorist watchlists included 143 individuals and two organizations whose assets were frozen.  There were no significant changes in 2022.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2022 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism:  The Netherlands’ 2022-26 National Counterterrorism Strategy adopted more targeted measures toward preventing “potentially violent, extremist lone actors.”  In addition to the National Police, Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the Ministries of Social Affairs and Education, local governments also work with civil society, religious, and community leaders both to identify potential radicalization to violence and to reintegrate individuals back into society.  Given the prevalence of underlying psychiatric problems common to lone actors, the government plans to strengthen cooperation between security and medical stakeholders, particularly in resolving potential conflicts around personal privacy law and rules governing medical data.  Regarding tackling violent extremist and terrorist content online, the government will develop a course of action to better combat the effect of algorithms in disseminating such content online, while seeking to balance freedom-of-expression concerns and improve societal resilience to violent extremist messaging.

International and Regional Cooperation:  The Netherlands actively participates in international and regional organizations or groupings regarding counterterrorism priorities, including these five:

  • The United Nations: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) contributed $1.5 million to increase integration of human rights into UN member states and relevant UN counterterrorism entities’ responses to terrorist and crisis situations.  The Netherlands also supported initiatives under the United Nations, and in cooperation with the Government of Iraq, to help facilitate returns of Iraqi nationals from Syria.
  • The European Union:  The Netherlands is an active participant in Europol’s European Counterterrorism Center and contributed personnel to relevant EU training missions.
  • NATO: The Netherlands contributed two military advisors and four civilian experts to NATO Mission Iraq.  Dutch military personnel continued to provide security protection for Erbil International Airport.
  • The Global Counterterrorism Forum:  T.M.C. Asser Instituut is host to the GCTF’s Administrative Unit in the Netherlands. The Netherlands sits on the governing board of the three GCTF-inspired institutions:  the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism (Hedayah), the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, and the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF).  The MFA has allocated $5.3 million in core funding to the GCERF for 2022-24.
  • The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS: In December the Netherlands hosted the Political Director’s meeting for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and continues to be a key contributor to the Defeat-ISIS Coalition as a co-lead of the Foreign Terrorist Fighters Working Group.

The Netherlands continued to finance a wide variety of capacity building projects with third countries, including supporting prison systems in Albania and Algeria, as well as probation services in Kosovo.  Other CVE programs in Somalia and Kenya were aimed at rehabilitating and reintegrating ex-al-Shabaab fighters and building community resources for relevant CVE interventions.

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