The AIVD's role in national security

Many institutions in the Netherlands play a part in safeguarding national security. What is the AIVD’s role in this system, and what makes our service unique?

The General Intelligence and Security Service of the Netherlands (AIVD) plays a vital part in Dutch national security. We seek to identify risks and threats as early as possible, before they become apparent. This is done by conducting in-depth investigations to gather intelligence.

A special relationship

We contextualise and interpret the information collected and then share it with a variety of other organisations. In particular, we have a close and special relationship with regional police Intelligence Units (IDs). These can also be asked by the AIVD to gather intelligence, and their local and regional knowledge is invaluable to the work of our service.

Developments abroad can also affect Dutch national security. For this reason, the AIVD conducts investigations in other countries as well as the Netherlands. This requires international cooperation.

Operational information is shared with foreign services in order to develop new insights together, which in turn strengthens national security at home. The AIVD also works intensively with local government, as part of its efforts to counter Islamic fundamentalism.

It is important to realise that, whilst such radicalism certainly does not always lead to terrorism, it can in itself pose a threat to Dutch society. Even though some groups of radical Muslims reject armed struggle, their isolationist, anti-Western attitudes can still inflame ethnic tensions and cause social polarisation. Such ideological currents are growing and could eventually threaten the continued existence of the democratic state.

Potential threats to people, property and services

We are expected to have a clear picture of the interests against which a threat is directed. To do this, the AIVD looks at things from a defensive perspective: Where might a threat come from, what makes a subject or location vulnerable, how does a perpetrator select a target?

Not a police service

The AIVD investigates the underlying roots of risks and threats to national security - it has access to information, it can use investigatory powers, and it has the necessary expertise to do so - but that is not the same as investigating criminal acts.

We identify threats and advise others, including policymakers and public officials at both national and regional levels, as to how they might act upon the information received.

But it is then primarily up to them how they respond and what strategies they devise to counter any specific threat. Creating a resilient society is everybody’s responsibility, after all. Only if all of the parties concerned play their part will the Netherlands be a safer place.

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