Dutch police nab suspect linked to planned terror strike

In a separate arrest, Dutch police are investigating the driver of a van with Spanish licence plates that was carrying gas canisters close to the Maassilo concert hall, the supposed location of the planned terror attack. The van driver's house was se
In a separate arrest, Dutch police are investigating the driver of a van with Spanish licence plates that was carrying gas canisters close to the Maassilo concert hall, the supposed location of the planned terror attack. The van driver's house was searched and no link to the terror threat was found, said the police.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Police step up probe after tip-off from Spanish authorities of threat to rock concert

ROTTERDAM • Dutch police have stepped up a probe into a planned terror attack at a concert by a United States rock band in Rotterdam, having received a "concrete" tip-off from the Spanish authorities.

The port city's police chief Frank Paauw told reporters yesterday: "There was concrete information from the Spanish police that an attack would be committed on that date, at this place and against this rock band."

Spain was rocked last week by twin vehicle attacks which killed 15 people and wounded 120, but it remains unclear whether the tip-off to the Dutch came before or after Spanish police began investigating the incidents.

After cancelling a planned concert by the Californian band Allah-Las in Rotterdam, Dutch police swooped on a house in the southern Brabant region before dawn yesterday "and arrested a 22-year-old man regarding the terror threat (on) Wednesday evening in Rotterdam".

They also carried out "an extensive search" of the premises, police said.

But there were growing doubts that another man, arrested late on Wednesday in the port city driving a van with Spanish licence plates and carrying gas canisters close to the Maassilo concert hall where the band was set to play, was linked to the terror threat.

The van driver, a mechanic who "appeared to be under the influence of an alcoholic substance, was detained and transferred to a police facility" on Wednesday, police said, adding that officers had found a "couple of gas canisters" in his van.

"His house was searched last night and no link with the terror threat was found. The man is still detained and will be questioned when sober," police said in a statement.

While Spanish police appeared to rule the man out of the inquiry, Mr Paauw said his team were still investigating, but it seemed likely "the man had had the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time".

In an interview with British daily The Guardian last year, Allah-Las members said they receive e-mails from Muslims offended by their name, but "that absolutely wasn't our intention".

They said they chose to use Allah - Arabic for God - because they wanted something "holy sounding".

News of the planned attack at the concert hall follows a suicide bombing at a concert by US singer Ariana Grande in the English city of Manchester in May which killed 22 people.

And in November 2015, 130 people were killed in Paris when, as part of a series of attacks, extremists hit the Bataclan concert hall where US rock band Eagles Of Death Metal were playing.

Spanish police said yesterday they had identified the remains of the last suspected member of the cell believed to have carried out the Aug 17 attacks in north-eastern Spain.

Youssef Aalla died in an accidental blast at the militants' bomb factory on the eve of the assault.

The blast forced the group to use vehicles as weapons instead, ploughing into pedestrians on Barcelona's busy Las Ramblas boulevard and a promenade in the resort town of Cambrils.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2017, with the headline 'Dutch police nab suspect linked to planned terror strike'. Print Edition | Subscribe