Why don't terrorists stop their activities?

X. The first terrorism legislation

In the meantime, the government has been working hard on new terrorism legislation to combat (international) terrorism. Characteristic of the anti-terrorism policy, as it developed after 2001, was its international background and the radical escape to the criminal field. These two characteristics were closely related. In contrast to the 1970s, when the fight against terrorism was a purely Dutch matter, the new legislation emerged from the European framework decisions and UN resolutions against Al Qaeda and international jihadist terrorism.

After the attacks of September 11th, there was great pressure from the United States and the United Nations on the EU to standardize the different terrorism laws of the various member states. On June 13, 2002, the EU framework decision on "Terrorism" was passed. A framework decision obliges the member states to implement terrorism legislation in national legislation. The framework decision established when it was a terrorist crime: as such, one understood actions that are carried out with the intention of intimidating the population and seriously changing or destroying the political, economic and social structures of the country. This definition no longer only included violence against people (as was common in the corridors of the Netherlands at that time) - from then on, damage to property was also regarded as a terrorist crime, provided the damage had at least a socially disruptive effect.

In the Netherlands, it took until 2004 for this legislation to be implemented in the Wet Terrorist Misdrijven. This law came in handy for many. A number of legal cases against alleged terrorists had shown that the legal basis in the Netherlands was often too narrow to convict suspects. Samir Azzouz, suspected of terrorist activities, seemed to fall through the cracks of the judiciary again and again. The chief prosecutor's office suffered a few major defeats, which only fueled public outrage. Politicians called this a scandal and called for new legislation. This new legislation had to include a number of other elements in addition to the measures of the Framework Decision to which the Netherlands were bound. Recruiting terror fighters had to be banned. At the same time, information from the secret services AIVD and MIVD (Military Information and Security Service) had to be usable as evidence in the pursuit of terrorists, without endangering the tasks of the authorities and the security of the sources.

These proposals were reflected in the draft law "Wet Terrorist Misdrijven", which was passed on to the Second Chamber by Justice Minister Donner in August 2003. This law made all terrorist crimes and all associated activities - with a focus on recruitment, conspiracy, participation in terrorist groups or preparatory acts - a criminal offense.

The draft law contained a number of controversial elements, including the now introduced threat of punishment in the event of a "conspiracy," i.e. criminalizing the planning of a terrorist crime and the intention to commit one. Henceforth one should no longer be able to proceed to (criminal) prosecution on the basis of crimes committed, but rather when planning such terrorist measures. This was a novelty in Dutch criminal law, which, according to critics, did not fit well into the existing one. Criminal law has always been designed to punish acts, but not to pursue radical views or behavior. In addition, it was not clear how far “conspiracy” or “membership in a terrorist organization” went. It was also criticized that crimes that fell under the “wet terrorist misdrijven” could be punished more heavily than comparable crimes that had no “terrorist intent” (such as possession of firearms and explosives).

However, in the polarized and fearful climate following the Madrid attacks in March 2004, the law was adopted and entered into force on August 10, 2004. It marks a turning point in Dutch anti-terror policy since the 1970s. A new legal framework for the fight against terrorism had been established, dedicated to prosecuting terrorism at all stages of preparation, conspiracy and execution. With administrative measures - for example in the area of ​​tax or immigration law, or with regard to subsidy measures - an attempt was made at the same time to remove the breeding ground for terrorism. In addition, the bodies charged with combating terrorism were completely reorganized and enlarged. The AIVD tripled its workforce between 2004 and 2007. The police corps developed their own counter-terrorism capacities. The BBE "s were put together in the" Dienst Speziale Interventieenheden "(Office for Special Intervention Units) of the KLPD.


Authors:Beatrice de Graaf and Ilse Raaijmakers
Created: August 2009