Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dutch authorities have arrested 12 Muslim men of Somali origin they believe were about to carry out a terrorist attack

The country's intelligence service provided information that led to the arrests in Rotterdam, Public Prosecution Service spokesman Wim de Bruin said. "The attack was said to be imminent so the national police started an investigation which led to the arrest of 12 Somalis later on Friday in Rotterdam," de Bruin said. The men, between ages 19 and 48, were arrested in various locations. Police have searched a pawn shop, four homes and two hotel rooms, de Bruin said. Six of the suspects live in Rotterdam and one is from Denmark. Some are Dutch citizens. They all are of Somali origin, de Bruin said. War-torn Somalia has a virtually powerless central government and is home to several militant groups, including Al-Shabaab, which controls much of the country. Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for several attacks, including a series of bombs that tore through an Ethiopian restaurant and a rugby center in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. Officials said the July 11 2010 blasts, which killed 79 people, were probably set off by suicide bombers. The United States in 2010 charged several people with trying to funnel money or otherwise assist Somali extremists. Al-Shabaab has been linked to al Qaeda. The Netherlands is concerned about Islamic terrorist threats to Western countries such as the recent suicide bombing in Stockholm, Sweden. The Netherlands is seeing more jihadist threats from Somalia and Yemen. There are several cases of Dutch citizens trying to travel to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab, including four arrested in 2009 in Kenya. The arrests in the Netherlands followed an unrelated sweep recently in Britain. An operation led by the British intelligence service, MI5, resulted in arrests of 12 South Asian suspects ranging in age from 17 to 28 in the cities of London, Stoke and Birmingham, England, as well as Cardiff, Wales.

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