There have been larger Islamist attacks in the West – such as the two assaults on New York's World Trade Center and the Madrid train station bombings – but nothing has resembled the civil-war quality of the 15-hour standoff in The Hague, Holland, yesterday. Here is an account of what happened by Sebastian Rotella of the Los Angeles Times.
The confrontation in the Dutch city erupted about 2:45 a.m. when anti-terror police raided an apartment house in search of three extremists in a crackdown on Islamic networks that was launched after the slaying last week of filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
The suspects inside responded by hurling at least one hand grenade that wounded four police officers, two seriously, and barricading themselves in the apartment. They shouted at police: "We will decapitate you!" The two were among more than 100 suspected militants who had been monitored for some time by police in the Netherlands. One of the suspects was a Dutch convert to Islam who had been detained last year and released, according to a law enforcement official. …
As the standoff dragged on, hundreds of well-armed police flooded the working-class neighborhood, evacuating a street and deploying armored vehicles. The airspace over the city was temporarily closed. As dusk fell, special-weapons units stormed the building and captured the two suspects after firing shots that wounded the convert in the shoulder. But a careful search continued Wednesday night because police believed another suspect might be inside and were wary of booby traps. Another suspect related to the investigation was arrested in the city of Utrecht. Four suspects also were arrested in Amsterdam and one in Amersfoort.
Comment: The consequences of long ignoring the problem of radical Islam and its violent proclivities are now becoming clear, so clear that even those Dutch who would prefer not to see it are beginning to do so. The same process will inexorably follow in other countries. (November 11, 2004)
Nov. 12, 2004 update: One day later, one more major operation in Holland, the Associated Press reports, this time involving more than 200 police against the Kurdish extremist group, PKK, now renamed KONGRA-GEL, netting 38 persons.
Most of the arrests came in a sweep of an alleged paramilitary training camp near Boxtel. Police seized night vision goggles, packages of clothing intended to be sent abroad, instruction materials, passports and identity cards, prosecutors said.
"More than 20 people were being trained for armed conflict ... including terrorist attacks" a statement by prosecutors said. "Trainees were taught special war tactics." There were also indications that "a number of the trainees were destined for Armenia," it said. Other detainees allegedly arranged money transfers, passports and passed along information to PKK members in Turkey and Armenia, prosecutors said. The detainees, whose names were not released, included 33 men and five women.
August 7, 2005 update: Great Britain's turn next? The Independent published an article today by Raymond Whitaker and Francis Elliott with the alarming title, "Intelligence chiefs warn Blair of home-grown ‘insurgency'." Excerpts:
Intelligence chiefs are warning Tony Blair that Britain faces a full-blown Islamist insurgency, sustained by thousands of young Muslim men with military training now resident in this country. The grim possibility that the two London attacks were not simply a sporadic terror campaign is being discussed at the highest levels in Whitehall. … attention is focusing on the pool of migrants to this country from the Horn of Africa and central Asia. MI5 is working to an estimate that more than 10,000 young men from these regions have had at least basic training in light weapons and military explosives.
A well-connected source said there were more than 100,000 people in Britain from "completely militarised" regions, including Somalia and its neighbours in the Horn of Africa, and Afghanistan and territories bordering the country. "Every one of them knows how to use an AK-47," said the source. "About 10 per cent can strip and reassemble such a weapon blindfolded, and probably a similar proportion have some knowledge of how to use military explosives. That adds up to tens of thousands of men." Even though the vast majority had come to Britain to escape the lawlessness of their homelands, the source added, there remained an alarmingly large pool of trained men who could be lured into violent action here.
This threat had been largely neglected while attention focused on British-born militants who had been through training camps run by al-Qa'ida in Afghanistan. "There has been a debate on whether we are facing an insurgency or terrorism," said the source, "and the verdict is on the side of an insurgency."