Dutch fear World Cup terrorism threat

Dutch security officials said Wednesday they are taking seriously the threat to soccer fans after a terrorism suspect arrested in Iraq claimed he considered attacking Dutch or Danish fans at the World Cup in South Africa.

But the Dutch anti-terrorism office and Danish authorities said they aren’t yet planning any new security measures in response.

Judith Sluiter of the Netherlands’ anti-terrorism coordination office says the comments made by Abdullah Azam Saleh al-Qahtani were in line with her agency’s perception of potential threats.

“Dutch interests abroad are more at risk than they are inside this country at the moment,” Sluiter said. “Here, they’re limited, but abroad, they’re substantial.”

Al-Qahtani said he considered attacking the Dutch and Danish teams or fans to avenge perceived insults to Islam.

“We discussed the possibility of taking revenge for the insults of the prophet by attacking Denmark and Holland,” al-Qahtani told The Associated Press. “If we were not able to reach the teams, then we’d target the fans.”

Al-Qahtani, a Saudi citizen, was arrested in Iraq on May 3 after a note he had written detailing similar plans was found at a house where two leading al-Qaida suspects were killed in April.

Dutch citizens are considered potential targets in part due to an anti-Islam film made by right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders. Similarly, Danes have been considered at risk due to the publication of cartoons featuring Islam’s prophet Mohammed.

Vish Naidoo, a spokesman for South African police, said the report from Baghdad would not affect World Cup security planning because terrorism had always been part of the calculations.

The Dutch State Department advises travelers to South Africa and especially visitors to the World Cup to be vigilant in relation to terrorist threats.

Photo by Dan Kamminga

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