Dutch police have arrested seven men suspected of planning a major terror plot to attack an event with suicide vests and assault rifles before striking another venue with a car bomb.
The suspects were arrested by heavily armed police in the towns of Arnhem, about 62 miles south of Amsterdam, and Weert in the southern Netherlands, close to the borders of Germany and Belgium.
In Weert, police shot a helicopter in mid-air as some of the suspects were trying to escape, according to local media. At least one man was injured.
The suspects were arrested by heavily armed police in the towns of Arnhem and Weert, the national prosecutor’s office said
Dutch intelligence believe the alleged ring leader, a 34-year-old man of Iraqi heritage, wanted to carry out an attack at the site of a large event and cause multiple casualties.
Prosecutors said the suspects ranged in age from 21 to 34. Three of them, including the 34-year-old Iraqi, were previously convicted of attempting to travel overseas to join extremist networks.
The men were attempting to obtain AK47 assault rifles, handguns, bomb vests, grenades and raw materials for bombs and were looking for opportunities to train with such weapons, according to the statement.
Prosecutors said that the investigation sped up this month because of the suspects’ ‘advanced preparations.’
Prosecutors say the suspects wanted to attack an unnamed event site with the suicide vests and rifles, and planned to detonate a car bomb at another location. Pictured: Locals watch on as police secure the scene
The men were to be brought before an investigating judge on Friday at a behind-closed-doors hearing.
The Dutch anti-terror coordinator’s office said in a tweet that the alleged plot fit the current threat profile for the Netherlands, which is at four on a scale that tops out at five. The office did not raise the level following the arrests.
‘Jihad networks are also active in the Netherlands with the intention to plot attacks in Europe,’ the office said. ‘Today’s arrests must be seen in that light.’