By picking up two men from Zoetermeer, who are suspected of preparing a possible attack, the AIVD shows that it still has a view of potential terrorist groups in the Netherlands. But how does such an investigation proceed? And how are police infiltrators deployed, as happened in Zoetermeer?
"When do you intervene? That is often a major area of tension between the judiciary and the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD, ed.)," Says Kees Jan Dellebeke, former AIVD employee, formerly the National Security Service (BVD).
"Justice often wants to intervene as quickly as possible, to prevent an attack being committed, for example, while the AIVD often wants to wait to intervene in order to be able to investigate further and possibly detect more suspects," continues Dellebeke. 1973 started and retired in 2012.
Whether the arrest of the two men from Zoetermeer last Monday also led to tensions between the judiciary and the AIVD, the former AIVD does not know. "But in general, the closer the date of the possible attack is, the more both parties agree to intervene."
57Police arrest 'man who prepared attack' in Zoetermeer
Police infiltrators have normal life next door
Before Monday's intervention, the investigation into the two men from Zoetermeer made use of police infiltrators, agents who acted as criminals. A heavy drug according to Jaap Timmer, police sociologist at the Free University and guest lecturer at the Police Academy.
"It is very strictly monitored whether there is no lighter means possible to achieve the same result. You can also come to evidence with the tapping of telephones, observing or informers," he says. "But if that is not possible, then you have to work your way in from outside the group through infiltrators, for example."
The police sociologist knows how this process works and outlines that the work of an infiltrator is incredibly heavy. "They have to pose as co-terrorists, which means that they have to learn all sorts of ways. They are actually very advanced actors."
Despite their heavy task, the infiltrators also have a life next to it. According to Timmer, that is "a fairly normal family life, but at a considerable distance from where they infiltrate".
Because it is such a difficult task, infiltrators are only allowed to do their work for a certain time. "And they receive psychological support," Timmer explains. "An entire team around them keeps an eye on them, because in the end it does involve human lives."
From first tip to arrest
- Tips from troubled citizens often ensure that the AIVD gets suspects on the radar. "Local residents and acquaintances see that, for example, a suspect has bought things that are not in the hook, or have suspicions that something is not right," says Timmer.
- If an investigation by the AIVD shows that suspects carry out "state-dangerous activities", an official message is sent to the Public Prosecution Service (OM).
- The criminal investigation is started after receiving the official message. In fact, the AIVD's investigation is then re-conducted by the police and the Public Prosecution Service. In the case of the two arrested Zoetermeerders, that investigation began at the beginning of October.
- During the investigation by the police and the Public Prosecution Service, the AIVD continues to monitor the suspects. For example, by looking at whether the suspects still have relationships with other groups.
"As an infiltrator you have to gain trust"
Entering a terrorist group as an infiltrator is easier one time than the other. According to Timmer, it also depends on how much experience the suspects have. "It's about winning trust, but some of those guys can be extremely naive. A question like," Are you looking for a Kalashnikov? " may then be enough to work you in. "
Timmer does not know how many police infiltrators there are in the Netherlands. It is true that much stricter requirements must be met in Europe for deploying infiltrators than, for example, in the United States.
"There it happens on a large scale", says Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn, terrorism researcher at Leiden University. "For example, an infiltrator should never provoke someone to commit crimes that he or she did not intend to commit."
The AIVD office in Zoetermeer. (Pro Shots)
'Dutch citizen trusts the government more'
That the Netherlands once again succeeded in arresting suspects of preparing an attack before they could carry out their act is a good sign, according to former AIVD member Dellebeke.
"Because parties such as the police, customs, tax authorities and probation services work well together in the Netherlands, intelligence services can function well. An information box has been created where everything comes together. That makes the AIVD very strong."
Whether the AIVD is also better than other European intelligence services is difficult to say, according to De Roy van Zuijdewijn. "As a society, we have few opportunities to see what is happening behind the scenes."
"The scope of the problem also varies," she continues. "In France alone, there are about two thousand people traveling to Syria and Iraq, while there are three hundred in the Netherlands. In recent years, it has become more common that Dutch services are well on their way. Think of the terrorist cell in Arnhem previous year. "
According to Timmer, what helps, in comparison with other countries, is the confidence of Dutch citizens in government services. "That trust is quite high and that causes worried citizens to think: I do not trust this, I will report it. Apparently that is well organized and well established in the Netherlands."
See also: Two arrests for preparing bomb attack attacks