Dutch police revealed they arrested seven men on Thursday over an alleged plan to execute what they called a “major terrorist attack.”
As reported by the BBC, the plot involved guns and explosives, including AK47s, hand grenades, and bomb materials the attackers were trying to source in order to carry out the attack.
The men were aged between 21 and 34, and three of them had previously been arrested for trying to travel abroad with the intent of joining militant organizations.
According to prosecutors, the brain behind the operation was a “34-year-old of Iraqi origin,” who was convicted last year for attempting to fly abroad to join the Islamic State group.
“The suspects were in search of AK47s, hand guns, hand grenades, explosive vests and raw materials for several [car] bombs,” prosecutors said in an official statement.
They claimed they were tipped off by intelligence services in April this year, who investigated the main suspect and discovered he was plotting to target “a large event in the Netherlands where there would be a lot of victims.”
It is believed the seven men were planning twin attacks, which involved a gun and bomb attack at a specific event, and a car bomb denoted somewhere else.
They were arrested in the city of Arnhem and the southern municipality of Weert on Thursday, September 27, by members of the Special Interventions Service’s anti-terrorism teams.
Dutch police arrest seven men who are suspected of plotting a large-scale extremist attack in the Netherlands that prosecutors say they think has been foiled. https://t.co/NJse4HMoiH
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 27, 2018
The alleged attackers were in possession of “five small handguns” and were reportedly seeking firearms training, the BBC said.
The National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV) released a statement to the media, saying the arrests only showed how tangible the risk of terrorist attacks in the Netherlands was.
The threat level in the central European country is set at four out of five currently. Earlier this month, a Jihadist knifeman was shot in Amsterdam after stabbing two American tourists.
As per the BBC, the 19-year-old Afghan man was shot just nine seconds after he attacked the two travelers because a “special spotter” was watching the suspect at Amsterdam’s Central Station, Commissioner Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said.
The suspect was an asylum seeker living in Germany since 2015, who arrived in the Dutch city by train. German authorities already had him on a watch list ever since they were tipped off that he had become radicalized in February.
Europe has had to deal with a string of terrorist attacks in the past few years, including the mass shooting in Paris in November 2015 and the Brussels bombings in March 2016, which were both claimed by ISIS.