AMSTERDAM (Sep. 7)
Dutch police arrested four Arabs with Syrian passports and also nabbed a Dutch woman in a raid on their hotel room Friday which yielded luggage containing pistols, machineguns and ammunition. Premier Johan den Uyl, who announced the arrests at a press conference today, said “We have the impression that the police very probably averted a disaster.”
The suspects are being held in five separate prisons to foil attempts to free them from outside. They were believed to have been planning to attack a Dutch train yesterday, seize a dozen hostages at random and demand a televised pro-Arab statement by the Premier and a promise that Holland “would no longer support Jewish emigration from anywhere” to Israel.
Justice Minister Andreis van Agt said the arrests were the result of close cooperation between the regular police and a special “anti-terrorist unit” that was created last year after Japanese terrorists attacked the French Embassy in The Hague.
Three of the captured men were identified only by their initials and ages: Z.H., 27; A.S., 34; A.A. 32. The fourth man was not identified nor was the Dutch woman. The latter claimed she was only a chance acquaintance and was not involved in the alleged train hijacking plan. The terrorists can only be charged with illegal possession of firearms, which carries a maximum penalty of four years’ imprisonment, because they had made no move to attack a train at the time they were captured.