Netherlands: Terrorists suspected of planning to shoot down helicopter
The Somalis who were arrested in Rotterdam Friday evening planned to attack the Gilze-Rijen air-force base, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported Tuesday. The paper said that intelligence sources had 'very concrete indications' that the suspects planned to shoot down an Apache helicopter. They did not yet get weapons to carry out the attack.
The twelve Somalis were arrested on Christmas Eve, in a call shop and four residences in Rotterdam, as well as two hotel rooms in Gilze-Rijzen, next to the base. No weapons or explosives were found. The police and prosecution said they carried out the arrests in order to prevent an attack.
The Somalis are suspected of links with al-Shabaab, according to sources in the Netherlands, Kenya and Mogadishu. One of the men, Mohamed Abdullahi R., is a family member of the commander of al-Shabaab, Mohamed Garmashaqo, and has the same nickname.
Six of the Somalis were released - five on Sunday and one on Monday - and the police say there are no further suspicions against them. Two Danish Somalis (aged 30 and 40) were among those freed. The six intend to lodge a complaint against the Dutch security service (AIVD). The brother of one of the former suspects, the owner of the call shop where the arrests took place, intends to join them. They are also checking whether they can get compensation for the wrongful arrest.
The Federation of Somali Associations in the Netherlands (FSAN) said they were 'stunned, but not totally surprised' by the arrests. Spokesperson Mohamed Elmi said that earlier this year they informed the Ministry of Internal Affairs that some youth ran the risk of radicalization, after the ministry asked in June if they had noticed anything.
Sources: Volkskrant, Trouw, Telegraaf 1, 2 (Dutch), BT (Danish)
Five more suspects were released, only one remains in custody.