November 5, 2005

Dutch militants may have plotted El Al attack: report

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - An unnamed source has told Dutch
police that a group of suspected Islamic militants plotted to
shoot down a plane belonging to the Israeli airline El Al in
August, Dutch television reported.

The public television news program NOVA based its report,
aired on Friday evening, on a prosecutor's dossier that it said
had led to the arrest last month of seven people, aged 18 to
30, on suspicion of plotting attacks against Dutch politicians
and government buildings.

There was no indication who the source was, how reliable
his allegation might have been, or what kind of aircraft might
have been targeted.

NOVA quoted the dossier itself as saying: "It is not
possible to give a judgment on the reliability of this

A spokesman for the Dutch national prosecutor's office
declined to comment.

Among those arrested last month was 19-year-old Samir
Azzouz, who had been acquitted in April of charges that he
planned attacks on government buildings, but sentenced to three
months' imprisonment for illegal possession of weapons.

NOVA said the dossier contained a tip-off that a group of
young Moroccans from Amsterdam planned to attack an El Al plane
at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport in August.

The government has said the Netherlands faces a significant
threat of terrorist attack.

NOVA also published the transcript of what it said was a
video message from Azzouz.

Addressing the Dutch government, Azzouz said: "Between us
and you, only the language of the sword shall prevail until you
leave Muslims in peace," according to NOVA.

It quoted him as saying the Dutch people were "considered
fighters because you have chosen this government. Your fortunes
and your blood are legitimate for us."

The Netherlands is home to almost one million Muslims, or
about six percent of its population.

Tensions with the Muslim minority have run high since the
murder last year of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an
Amsterdam-born Muslim radical, which sparked tit-for-tat
attacks on mosques, religious schools and churches.

Many Muslims say they feel a new climate of intolerance,
heightened by each high-profile police raid or arrest.

The Dutch government supported the 2003 U.S.-led invasion
of Iraq, but did not contribute troops to the invasion. It sent
soldiers in August 2003 to help stabilize the southern Muthanna
province, but withdrew the force of 1,350 from Iraq this year.