Wed, Jan 26, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Dutch government ratchets up anti-terrorism funding

GROWING THREAT The government said that the US$520 million was justified after the Madrid bombings and the recent murder of Theo van Gogh


The Dutch government said on Monday it would set aside more than US$520 million to combat terrorism in coming years, citing threats to national security in the wake of attacks in Europe by Muslim extremists.

The money will be used over the next five years to boost the number of employees at the national Intelligence Service by 10 percent to more than 1,000. Hundreds of new positions will also be added at the National Police Service, Military Police and other intelligence services.

Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner said attacks like the Madrid train bombings and the murder by an Islamic radical of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in November were "the reason to allocate extra resources to fight terrorism."

The Intelligence Service, known by its Dutch acronym AIVD, will gain 350 new staff members by 2009 and will have an additional US$140 million in funding, on top of an extra US$13 million already allocated to fight terrorism. In 2003, the service's budget was nearly US$100 million.

"In the past year, the Netherlands has been confronted with the threat of international terrorism, which became acute with the attacks on March 11 [in Madrid]," Donner said, detailing a letter on the measures sent to parliament on Monday.

The Intelligence Service issued repeated warnings last year which led to heightened protection of politicians and national landmarks, such as Schiphol International Airport.

About 800 new jobs will be created overall, including 60 security agents to protect threatened politicians. In an attempt to stop the radicalization of thousands of Muslim youths, judges will be granted powers to bar Muslim imams or preachers who "incited hate or violence," Donner said.

Donner also proposed new legislation to enable law enforcement officials to act against suspects before they have committed a crime.

"Certain individuals will be banned from visiting certain objects or nearing certain persons," a statement issued by the Justice Ministry said.

The proposal was approved by the Cabinet on Friday.

Donner said it was intended for individuals who are considered a potential threat, such as suspected recruits for the Islamic jihad, or holy war, known to have trained at camps in Pakistan or elsewhere.

"An example could be if someone spent time at a training camp, but I don't have enough to charge them with a crime," he said.

He gave the example of Mohammed Bouyeri, the 26-year-old suspect in Van Gogh's murder, who was believed to have associated with members of a terrorist network in the Netherlands plotting attacks against politicians.

Asked if the measures infringed on civil liberties, Donner agreed they "go pretty far," but countered that they were justified in the wake of new terrorist threats.

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