Tuesday, January 25, 2005

New anti terrorist measures

We are also a target
More than two years after 9-11 and more than two months after the slaughter of Theo van Gogh the Dutch government is still not ready for the terrorists. Today the government came with it's anti terrorist measures. In a letter send to parliament, the ministers Donner (Justice), Remkes (domestic affairs) and minister Verdonk (Immigration and Integration), informed the parliament of their plans.

Proposed higher budgets
The government is planning to spend the next five years 414 million euro extra on anti terror related activities. This year the budget will rise with 48 million euro and will rise in 2009 to 95 million euro. They plan to enlarge the capacity of the different intelligence services with around 600 full time employees (fte):

AIVD intelligence Service: +107 fte
Police and public prosecutor's office: +90 fte
Military Police: +148 fte
Royal and diplomatic protection service (DKDB): +235 fte
DKDB, observation and protection,: +7 fte

But in an other press release of the ministry of domestic affair they announced that the AIVD with now 1000 employees, will grow with 350 employees the coming 5 years. The press release is a response on an AIVD review report published last year. In the press release they also write that the AIVD should enhance it's quality, communication to civilians and other government branches and that the control on the AIVD should be enhanced. This sound like they have the nearly impossible task of enhancing quality, change its procedures and at the same time let the organization grow fast. Not an easy task.

Proposed Measures
With the extension of the intelligence organizations the government what's to enhance the information position of these services and that, the ministers write, could lead to government action and actually prosecutions of people and/or organizations. In the past this was something that did not happend often and if it did it lacked in a successfull prosecution. Most terror cases failed before the court and terror suspects where released (and even had to be compensated in money).

The letter also expresses the intention to: dissolving organization using civil law, declare radicals persona non grate and deny visas to radicals. They also want to use the tax and customs service to research suspicious organizations (these service have extra intrusive measures other services like the police do not have).

Also, local governments should subsidizes more strictly and not subsidize clubs who have extremists as their members (Many mosques and Islamic organizations are subsidized). Although the Netherlands is already a country with the highest phone eavesdrops surveillance rate in the world, further extensions of eavesdrops are also proposed.

New is also the introduction of permanent security area's. In the past local government could only declare temporary security area's as a measure against football hooligans. In the new permanent security area's the (military) police will be allowed to search any body, without prior suspicion. The whole area of Schiphol is now declared a security area. Soon all international airports will follow (Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Maastricht and Groningen).

In the proposal Dutch courts will get the possibility to give people, besides their regular penalty, a profession prohibitions. They could give that penalty when they use there profession to propagate hate or violence. The judge will determine for what period they will get the job prohibition. The measure could be used against Imams, Social workers and teachers.

New are also the proposed administrative measures against potential terrorists. They will make it possible to prohibit people to come near certain people or objects and a mandatory periodic reporting to the police. These measures will not need a courtroom conviction, they can be taken against persons who come in the picture due to their contacts, activities or other indications. The measures could be used against people who received training in camps in for example Pakistan. But even suspicious behavior near certain location can be enough.

Color code system
Last year a new Terror warning system based on color codes, similar to the US, was made operational. The following threat levels where introduced: yellow (light threat), orange (moderated threat) and red (high threat). The government raised the threat level when The Netherlands became EU chairman. Around that time they also arrested Samir Azzouz, who is also linked to the Hofstadgroep terrorist group. He is suspected of planning attacks on a nuclear reactor, Schiphol airport, parliament and other government buildings.

They expect that the end of March the following locations take security measures based on the threat levels:

* Dutch national rail
* City of Rotterdam
* Airport Schiphol (near Amsterdam)
* Electricity networks
* Water supply

Current measures against terrorists
The letter also speaks about the investigation around the Hofstad terror cell for which 12 suspects are held. One of the Hofstad terror cell members, who was under surveillance by the AIVD, was the Assassin of Theo van Gogh. The government that they started procedures to declare three of them persona non-grata and one residence permit has been withdrawn.

European measures
Beside again announcing to work better with other EU member states they work also on visa information system that contains personal and biometric information of all Schengen country visa. Also a new central unit who coordinates the actions needed for the surveillance of the EU outer borders is announced together with the intention to exchange criminal records.

Reactions of the parliament

The Christian party (CDA) is very content with the measures. But fraction leader Verhagen wants more measures like revoking some extremist some civil rights like freedom of speech and the right to hold meetings.

The Liberal party (VVD) thinks the measures are encouraging. They think the government is on the right way and is getting on their feet again, but now wants to see some execution instead of only proposals. They also have questions about the coherence of the proposed measures.

The smallest party, that is part of the current government, is the liberal-socialist (D66). They says the measures are only based on repression and question if they are not to intrusive. They fear the measures do not only effect extremist but also regular people. They say the plans should focus more on prevention, like enhancing the public education system.

The Socialist party (PvdA), is not yet satisfied. They want, like the VVD, to see execution instead of words. They say the governments intentions are good, but the proposed measures are to vague and not detailed enough. They also propose to make Utrecht Central station, the nations biggest train station, and the harbor of Rotterdam an permanent security area.

The Greens (Groenlinks) are disappointed by the measures. They say the measures are irresponsible intrusive against marginal phenomenon’s of terrorism by criminalizing the glorification of terror attacks. They think attention should go solely to the real terrorist instead of their admirers. The Greens are the political arm of many direct action groups, some have ties with terror groups like ETA and the PLO.

International press:
Pakistan Daily times

Sources: Ministry of Domestic Affairs, Volkskrant, Telegraaf , Intel-weblog


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