Nine men arrested last week in Eindhoven on suspicion of preparing a terrorist attack were targetting three prominent politicians, including prime minister Mark Rutte, according to sources reported by De Telegraaf.
The men were aged between 18 and 31, and are accused of having IS sympathies. Eight of them were born in the Netherlands of ‘Mediterranean’ origins; the ninth was born in Afghanistan.
According to police and judicial sources reported by the paper, the authorities feel they have a strong case against the men, who are thought to have set their sights on prime minister Rutte, Thierry Baudet, leader of the Forum for Democracy (FVD) and controversial politician Geert Wilders, who has regularly expressed anti-Islam views.
The is the second alleged threat to Rutte’s safety in a short time. On Wednesday this past week, a member of the city council of The Hague was arrested and accused of planning to carry out an attack on Rutte, who merely happened to be in the same neighbourhood as the man, whose mother lives there.
Since then, Rutte’s security has been stepped up.
According to Peter Plasman, lawyer for two of the suspects, there were no concrete plans for an attack on politicians. No arms or explosives were found in the search of eight addresses. The accusation, he said, is based on a conversation the suspects had while setting up a movie on Netflix.
In the conversation, he explained, “nasty words are said and the politicians are mentioned. But there has never been a serious plan, in which it was discussed how and who will do it.” He also denied his clients have ‘jihadist ideas’.