The Netherlands is famous for its canals, tulip gardens, windmills and dikes, and for the Rijksmuseum and places of honor for Anne Frank and Vincent Van Gogh.
And now the threat of terrorism.
The U.S. government has issued a notice of a level two travel advisory – “Exercise increased caution” – because of the threat of terrorism.
“Terrorists continue plotting possible attacks in the Netherlands,” the government explains. “Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas”
The State Department advises travelers to “be aware of your surroundings when traveling to tourist locations and large crowded public venues.”
Also travelers should monitor media for breaking events, follow the State Department on social media and have a contingency plan for emergencies.
A report by Abigail Esman for the Investigative Project on Terrorism explained the announcement came largely in response to an August attack at Amsterdam’s Central Station, in which two Americans were stabbed by a German Muslim extremist.”
“True, the Amsterdam attacker was not Dutch. But Europe’s permeable borders mean that nationality rarely matters; several of those involved in the November, 2015 Paris attacks, for instance, were Belgian,” she wrote.
The nation’s intelligence officials have been warning of an impending incident for some time, citing the high numbers of extremists and at least 55 returning ISIS fighters, IPT said.
“Indeed, just prior to the U.S. warning, Dutch police arrested seven men suspected of planning a large-scale attack. In the wake of those arrests, Dutch authorities further revealed they had their eyes on as many as 160 radicalized Muslims – 59 in Amsterdam alone. If that number seems small in the context of Holland’s overall Muslim population of just over 1 million (.016 percent), consider that it is equivalent to the number of Americans diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year – a danger no one simply waves away. And unlike cancer, radicalism is contagious,” IPT reported.
“The 160 people targeted by law enforcement in the Netherlands are those suspected of having violent intent. They do not include those with anti-Western ideas. Nor do they include people like Moroccan-Dutch Yasmina Haifi, who, while employed by the Ministry of Justice in 2014, tweeted that ISIS had nothing to do with Islam. Rather, she said, it is ‘a plan created by Zionists deliberately to make Islam look bad.'”
The report said, “Although Americans traveling to Europe have steered clear of cities like Paris and Brussels in recent years, concerned about the number of terrorist attacks there, few have expressed concern about Amsterdam and other Dutch cities. To the contrary, American tourism to the Netherlands has increased by 22 percent since 2006.
“Yet the Dutch have been dealing with a radicalizing Muslim population since shortly after 9/11. In 2004, writer and filmmaker Theo van Gogh was shot and stabbed by Muslim extremist, Mohammed Bouyeri, as he bicycled to work. Bouyeri, who happens to be Dutch-Moroccan, was a leader of the Hofstadgroep, a terror group based in The Hague, which was also planning several larger-scale attacks at the time.”
And it’s getting worse.
“Leiden University professor of terrorism and counterterrorism Edwin Bakker agreed in an e-mail: ‘The awareness of the threat is now higher than a couple of months ago, ‘thanks’ to the attacks in Amsterdam and The Hague, and the recent arrests of the seven jihadists.'”