Annual report 2015: a range of threats to the Netherlands

Threats against the Netherlands come from all sides and are increasingly complex and multifaceted, according to the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) in its annual report.

In 2015 the threat of jihadism declared its presence most emphatically in several serious attacks in Europe. In addition the AIVD identified a record number of cyberattacks against Dutch government bodies. The volatility of international political relations is exacerbated by Russia's unpredictability. In our own country the influx of migrants has led to sharper oppositions in our society. These are the developments that influenced 2015's threat picture and that will continue to do so.

ISIS propaganda attracts fighters and feeds radicalisation

The treat emanating from jihadist parts appears to have grown more complex and diffuse than ever. In 2015 it turned out that foreign fighters had returned to Europe to carry out attacks for Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). From the conquered territories other ISIS fighters remained in contact with jihadists in Europe, especially through social media. These local jihadists are for the larger part persons who have been born and raised in Europe, but who regard the West as the wicked enemy of Islam. Their interest is to bring the violent jihad to European soil. A further threat is brought by Dutch citizens who have been thwarted in their attempts to travel to ISIS territory to fight for the caliphate.

ISIS' professional propaganda machine tempts foreign fighters to travel to the Middle Eastern war zone, and it holds strong sway over mostly young Muslims in the Netherlands, who are radicalised by ISIS' message glorifying the heroism of religious terror.

Concern over the growing influence of salafism

In parallel with the developments around jihadism the AIVD also notes a growing influence of salafism in the Netherlands. The AIVD is concerned about salafism's polarising message of intolerance as propagated by  salafist adherents in our country. Salafist ideology can also constitute a breeding ground for processes of radicalisation that eventually lead to violent jihad.

The threat of complex digital attacks to our national security

Our country finds itself more than ever in the cross hairs of other states, especially in terms of political decision-making procedures as a short-cut to a better information position. The commonest way to obtain information of this kind is through cyber espionage. Countries are also targeting Dutch specialist know-how and innovations that are of great importance to a strong and stable Dutch economy. These cyberattacks are steadily becoming ever more complex.

Russia: an important area of interest

Relations between the Russian Federation and the West have deteriorated greatly since the 2013 uprising in the Ukraine. Russia's geopolitical superpower aspirations have caused instability within Europe and at its borders. The ideological and political contrasts of Russia, NATO and EU reveal themselves in economic sanctions from both sides and a war of information. Because of these developments Russia is an important area of interest.

Concerns about migration

The influx of migrants from the Middle East and Northern Africa, which saw a significant increase in 2015, is putting pressure on Europa and its solidarity. Also in the Netherlands the political and social questions regarding the intake of refugees led to heated debate, in which certain groups did not shy away from using undemocratic means to exert their influence. Extremist factions abused the situation to enforce their ideological arguments with violence.

Over 800 intelligence products

Over the past year the AIVD and its partners dedicated themselves to the fight against threats to our national security. Partners such as the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV), the Public Prosecutor's Office, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) and various other services and ministries received over 800 intelligence analyses, official reports, presentations and lectures on threats to our nation. Also in 2015 the intelligence supplied by the AIVD has assisted others in the execution of their duties.