23 July 2004: The 17-year-old boy accused of preparing terrorist attacks in the Netherlands reportedly underwent paramilitary training in Pakistan and has been under surveillance by the Dutch secret service AIVD for 18 months.
The Moroccan youth - whose arrest at the end of June reportedly was a major factor leading to the Dutch terror alert issued earlier this month - is suspected of having undergone training in the making of bombs and the use of heavy calibre weapons at a terrorist camp in Pakistan, newspaper De Telegraaf reported on Friday.
He was arrested for alleged involvement in a robbery at an Edah supermarket in Rotterdam, possibly in April, in which heavy calibre weapons, reportedly a Uzi submachine gun and a Kalashnikov assault rifle, were used. Such weapons are primarily used by terrorists and professional criminals.
Conflicting newspaper reports have indicated that the teen - identified in one report only as A. - was physically involved in the robbery or supplied the weapons to two robbers.
Both reports appear to corroborate that authorities seized plans of important buildings and installations in a raid of the boy’s house.
The AIVD suspect him of preparing a terrorist attack and the youth has allegedly had contact with a top terrorist attached to a network that was allegedly linked with the attacks in Madrid and Casablanca. The teen was arrested on 30 June in Rotterdam.
Various sources also claim the suspect is the same person who tried to make it into Chechnya in January 2003 with a friend to help their “Muslim brothers” in the war against Russia. The youths turned back though after being stranded in freezing cold just short of the rebel republic.
The 17-year-old was then arrested in October 2003 with four other radical Muslims on suspicion they were planning a terrorist attack, newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported. But due to a lack of evidence, the five suspects were later released.
The AIVD is said to be convinced that the men wanted to carry out a terrorist attack and investigations against the five suspects continue. The public prosecution has refused to confirm whether the arrested youth is the same one as that detained last year, but various other sources have confirmed it.
The youth is well known at the Schiedam telecom shop Internet Phone Centre, which was raided in October 2003 on allegations it was a breeding ground of terrorism.
A worker also said the teen is the same one that traveled to Chechnya, but said he was eventually banned from coming to see a friend at the shop because he brought too many problems.
Another source said the youth is not involved in Jihad because he really wants to be, but is instead is doing it for money because he likes nice clothes and going out. It is claimed he went underground several months ago after he was put under AIVD surveillance. “It has become really scary,” the friend said.
The Netherlands issued a terror alert on 9 July after the AIVD warned that Islamic extremists were possibly preparing a terrorist attack. Security was then tightened around key installations such as the Dutch Parliament in The Hague and Schiphol Airport. The alert has not been rescinded.
A US research agency said the terror alert was partly issued due to information gained from a phone tap of one of the main suspects in the Madrid attacks. Egyptian Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, 33, was arrested in Italy in early June, Radio Netherlands reported.
Several anonymous intelligence agency sources also believe there is an increased risk of terrorism in the Netherlands, the agency said.
Contributory factors are reportedly the presence of Dutch troops in Iraq, the Dutch Presidency of the European Union and the fact that Rotterdam is a major world port.