August 27, 2015 / 9:42 AM / 4 years ago

Dutch freeze terror suspects' assets in militant clamp-down

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Bert Koenders arrives to the informal European Union Ministers of Foreign Affairs meeting (Gymnich) in Riga March 6, 2015. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government added further suspected militants to its list of citizens subject to an asset freeze in the latest crackdown by European governments who are increasingly concerned at the threat of homegrown Islamist militancy.

The addition of eight further names to the country’s National Terrorism List brings to 40 the number of individuals and organisations whose access to their bank accounts and credit cards has been frozen, the government said on Thursday.

The risk of attacks in Europe by militants motivated by radical Islamist ideology was highlighted at the weekend when a suspected radical opened fire on passengers on a Paris-bound train that had left Amsterdam hours earlier.

The government believes the move will make it harder for Dutch citizens participating in conflicts in Syria and Iraq to send money to help would-be fighters who have not yet left the Netherlands and also stop them funding attacks in Europe.

“With these measures we are making it a bit harder for these people to commit acts of terror,” Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said in a statement.

Governments across Europe are stepping up security measures, fearing returning fighters will plot terrorist attacks.

Europe’s police organization, Europol, said in January that 5,000 Europeans had joined fighting in Syria.

Of the 40 people on the Dutch terrorism list, 27 have been added since the start in 2013 of the Syrian civil war, which has helped fuel the rise of the Islamic State, an inspiration for some of the European-born radicals.

“We have to block the flow of money to these people, because as co-perpetrators they are contributing to the merciless violence in the region,” Koenders said. “We need to prevent them from returning to The Netherlands and plotting attacks.”

Editing By Thomas Escritt; Editing by Toby Chopra

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