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article imageTerror suspects 'close to attack', Dutch prosecutors say

By AFP     Sep 19, 2018 in World

Two terror suspects arrested in June were close to carrying out attacks including at an iconic Rotterdam bridge and in France, Dutch prosecutors revealed Wednesday at the men's first court appearance.

The men aged 22 and 28, who were not named and are of Moroccan origin, even made a film at the Erasmus bridge in the Dutch port city in which they sang a martyrdom song, they said.

A spokesman for the public prosecution services said they based their information on a report by the Dutch secret service (AIVD).

"In the investigation it was found the men pinpointed several possible targets including a police station and the Erasmus bridge," Wim de Bruin told AFP.

Dutch information revealed that one of the men had also planned an imminent attack in France, De Bruin said.

Rotterdam's largest bridge -- seen as an iconic backdrop to Europe's largest port -- connects the northern and southern parts of the city across the Nieuwe Maas River and is used by thousands of people daily.

One of the suspects "knew people who had access to Kalashnikov (AK-47) assault rifles and who could make explosive vests," prosecutors told the judges at the brief hearing, held behind closed doors at the Rotterdam District Court.

"He had the financial means to finance his actions," the NOS public broadcaster quoted prosecutors as saying.

There was still confusion about the identities of the men as they were using several aliases, the NOS added.

Police confiscated telephones, USB sticks and other data storage facilities during the mid-June raid.

Investigators found a Facebook discussion with plans to attack Dutch security services as well as a picture of the Rotterdam-south police station.

"They also made a film at the Erasmus Bridge, where one of the men is singing a type of song that refers to martyrdom," De Bruin told AFP.

Chances of a terror attack in the Netherlands "remained substantial", the Dutch anti-terror agency NCTV said last week, adding that terror threat levels remained at four out of five.

Two American tourists were seriously injured just over two weeks ago when a knifeman attacked bystanders at Amsterdam's busy Central Station before he was shot.

Dutch authorities have said the attacker, who has been identified as a 19-year-old Afghan national with a German residency permit, had a "terrorist motive."

The Amsterdam knife attack "illustrates the threat in The Netherlands," the NCTV said.

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