Background and Scope
The National Counterterrorism Strategy for 2016-2020 brings together all government partners in a joint approach to extremism and terrorism in the Netherlands. The present strategy draws on the National Counterterrorism Strategy for 2011-2015 and the subsequent evaluation of that strategy. The strategy is also based on the anticipated threat situation for the 2016-2020 period, as well as knowledge and experience gained by the authorities in recent years.
The strategy aims to offer a strategic framework for combating the terrorist and extremist threat to the Netherlands.
Extremism is defined as ‘a phenomenon whereby individuals or groups who are motivated by a certain ideology engage in serious criminal behaviour or take actions that undermine the democratic legal order’, while terrorism is defined as ‘the perpetration of ideologically inspired acts of violence against people or of acts intended to cause property damage and calculated to result in social disruption, in order to undermine and destabilise society, create a climate of fear among the general public or influence political decision-making’.
The threat posed by extremism and terrorism is variable and unpredictable. The threat from global jihadism is expected to continue to grow in the upcoming years ahead, in the form of transnational networks, foreign terrorist fighters (both jihadist travellers and returnees), individuals with a potential for violence and processes of rapid domestic radicalisation. Foreign terrorist fighters are increasingly involved with both national and international jihadist and criminal networks. The threat is also becoming more transnational in nature: international developments are having an ever more direct impact on security in the Netherlands, while threats emanating from the Netherlands can have an influence abroad.
In addition, jihadists are becoming more adept at using social media and obtaining materials for an attack. Other types of extremists – both individuals and groups – are also becoming more radical, threatening to carry out attacks and attempting to disrupt society. They too are driven by ideology and make use of similar networks, channels and resources for the purpose of communication, logistics and recruitment. Far-right extremism is the subject of particular attention in this regard.
Our strategic principles for the next five years are outlined below:
In keeping with the evaluation committee’s recommendations, the term ‘pillars’ will be replaced with ‘areas of intervention’. The five areas of intervention allow for a dynamic response to an ever-evolving threat, whereby a strategic, policy-based approach must be hammered out through multidisciplinary cooperation. The five areas of intervention are complementary and also overlap to some degree. The first of these, ’Procure’, also forms the basis of all the other areas.
The five areas of intervention are:
The evaluation of the counterterrorism strategy for 2011-2015 showed that a targeted, legitimate and robust approach to extremism and terrorism is best served through centralised coordination on the part of the national government. This coordination focuses on forging effective partnerships and optimising information-sharing practices.
In keeping with the evaluation committee’s recommendations, a distinction will be made between fixed and flexible measures. The term ‘fixed measures’ refers to the set level of policy-related, operational and administrative measures that will be in place during the 2016-2020 period in order to address the anticipated threat. Fixed measures will be implemented in the form of policy-related, administrative and operational plans at local, national and international level.
The threat posed by extremism and terrorism is constantly evolving. Flexible measures are sometimes necessary to respond to these changes. Changes to the extremist and terrorist threats are described in the Terrorist Threat Assessment for the Netherlands (DTN) and in specific scenarios. The DTN is based in part on information from the intelligence and security services, the police, public sources, foreign partners and on analyses by embassy staff. Flexible measures are formulated in interministerial programme and project plans with a set timetable. Eventually, flexible measures can themselves become fixed measures, provided that the instruments in question are capable of tackling the changed threat.
This is how we implement the evaluation committee’s recommendation to use a mix of fixed and flexible measures, in order to ensure the authorities’ intervention capability will remain optimal.