AMSTERDAM — Justice authorities arrested a Moroccan man last month after receiving a tip-off that Islamic extremists were allegedly planning an attack on the Red Light District in Amsterdam, it was reported on Friday.
The pizza-delivery courier allegedly conducted reconnaissance of the capital’s prostitution zone while riding through the area during work hours on his scooter. He was arrested on 5 November. Newspaper De Telegraaf described him as a “radical Moroccan pizza deliverer”.
The National Detectives Unit was alerted to the supposed attack plan by three anonymous emails, the first of which was received on 14 September.
Emails dated 27 September and 11 October gave further details of the suspects and addresses.
The emails warned that “terrorists in Amsterdam East” were plotting an attack on the Wallen area in Amsterdam, De Telegraaf reported. Muslim extremists, the paper said, were allegedly furious at the lack of morals in the prostitution zone.
Justice authorities took the tips very seriously and arrested the pizza deliverer at the Nasr mosque in the Celebesstraat in Amsterdam East. The man has been identified as a 20-year-old Amsterdam resident of Moroccan descent, Bilal L., alias Abu Qataadah.
L. was allegedly in contact with Syrian Redouan al-Issa, the fugitive leader of the terror network Hofstadgroep (Main City Group). The Syrian was an illegal immigrant in the Netherlands and gave Koran lessons in the home of Mohammed B., the suspected murderer of filmmaker Theo van Gogh. B. is also a member of the Main City Group.
The emails claimed the Syrian was involved in the plans to attack the Red Light District, while another target was the Dutch Parliament in The Hague. L. is alleged to have bought equipment needed to carry out the attack.
It is possible that L. was in contact with Jason W., one of the two suspects arrested in a stand-off with police in The Hague on 10 November. The detective unit involved in the investigation claims the group around L. regularly met at the Aboe Bakr mosque in Almere.
L. is also reportedly being held for threatening right-wing independent MP Geert Wilders. The MP’s life has been repeatedly threatened because of his trenchant critisism of Islam.
The Main City Group — which mainly consists of Muslims of North African descent — has been kept under surveillance by the Dutch intelligence service AIVD since the summer of 2002.
Samir A. — who is being held on suspicion he was planning an attack against Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, the Dutch Parliament and the Defence Ministry — is also a member of the group. He is believed to be in contact with the suspected killer of Van Gogh.