THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government raised its terror threat Wednesday amid concerns that Dutch citizens traveling to Syria to fight in the civil war could return battle-hardened, traumatized and further radicalized.
The government cited the threat posed by jihad fighters returning from Syria, where rebels are battling government forces, and signs of increasing radicalization among Dutch youth as key reasons for lifting its threat level from "limited" to "substantial." The level now is the second-highest on the four-step scale, just below "critical."
"The chance of an attack in the Netherlands or against Dutch interests abroad has risen," the country's National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism said in a statement.
The warning comes just two months before hundreds of thousands of people are expected to descend on Amsterdam for mass celebrations around the abdication of Queen Beatrix and coronation of her son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander.
Counter-terror chief Dick Schoof said nearly 100 people had traveled from the Netherlands to Africa and the Middle East, mainly to Syria, to fight, and warned that it is not just a Dutch problem.