AMSTERDAM — As the investigation into the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh continues, the Dutch authorities are hunting a Syrian who was allegedly in contact with four men being held in the Netherlands on terrorism charges.
Justice authorities allege the Syrian is the axis of several terrorist cells believed to be active in the Netherlands. Besides the Van Gogh murder, the man is also accused of two other crimes.
He was allegedly involved in the death threats against anti-Islamic Dutch MP Geert Wilders and the preparations for a terrorist attack against key buildings, including the Dutch Parliament in The Hague and the Borssele nuclear reactor.
Police are already holding an 18-year-old suspect, Samir A., on suspicion of involvement in the latter case. He was arrested in June in relation to a robbery at a supermarket but police also seized blueprints of buildings and bomb-making chemicals at his Amsterdam home.
The hunt for the Syrian is the first indication that terror cells – said to be in active in the Netherlands — are linked, newspaper De Volkskrant reported Tuesday. The Syrian has been living in the Netherlands for some time. Authorities know his identity and his last-known address.
The suspicions about the the Syrian are the second piece of potential evidence linking the suspected killer of Van Gogh, the 26-year-old Mohammed B., and A., whose arrest led the Dutch government to issue a terror alert in July. The two men lived within a stone’s throw of each other in Amsterdam-Slotervaart.
A. had previously been arrested in October 2003 on suspicion of preparing a terrorist attack after Rotterdam police found bomb-making substances in a shopping bag. He was released shortly afterwards with three other suspects due to a lack of evidence.
The investigation of the Dutch intelligence service AIVD into the ‘bomb-making bag’ had also placed B. under suspicion, but this investigation eventually cooled off.
Meanwhile, two suspects arrested Friday on allegations they threatened to kill Wilders — who is opposed to Islamic Turkey’s accession to the European Union and has called for a ban on Muslims immigrating to the Netherlands — were allegedly directed by the Syrian. A third suspect voluntarily surrendered to police on Monday.