THE HAGUE — Dutch police have arrested a 32-year-old French national in the port city of Rotterdam on suspicion of planning a terror attack, prosecutors said, following a raid carried out at the request of French authorities.
The man is thought to have been planning an attack in France in the name of the Islamic State group along with Reda Kriket, a terror suspect who was detained near Paris on Thursday, a French police source said on Sunday.
The man arrested in the Netherlands had at one point travelled to Syria to wage jihad, the same source added.
"French authorities on Friday requested the arrest of this French national," the Dutch prosecutor’s office said in a statement, adding that the man was suspected "of preparing a terrorist attack." The statement made no mention of any connection with the November attacks in Paris.
The detained French national is expected to be handed over to France "shortly," the Dutch prosecutors’ statement added, a process that could take "several days," spokesman Wim de Bruin said.
Three other men were also detained in the police operations in Rotterdam Sunday, including two suspects of Algerian background aged 43 and 47. No immediate details were available about the third man.
The raids were carried out in two streets in the west of the city, and several nearby houses were evacuated "for the safety of the residents." The Netherlands was already on heightened alert after Tuesday’s airport and metro attacks in Brussels, with security stepped up at airports and train stations and border controls tightened.
Images broadcast by public television channel NOS showed police sending a sniffer dog trained in detecting explosives into the buildings where the suspects were staying.
French police said earlier they had thwarted an attack by 34-year-old Kriket – a man previously convicted in absentia in Belgium in a terror case – after arresting him and discovering explosives at his home near Paris.
Deepening the cross-border connections between the suspected jihadist cells, Belgian police at the weekend charged two men with involvement in a terrorist group over the foiled French plot linked to Kriket.
One of them was named as Abderamane A., who police shot in the leg after a stand-off at a tram-stop on Friday in the Schaerbeek district of Brussels.
In a statement late on Sunday, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised the "meticulous" police work and "cooperation with our European partners" that prevented another attack on French soil.— AFP