Dutch police detain suspect in concert terror threat

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands -- Alerted by a detailed tip from Spanish colleagues, Dutch police arrested a man early Thursday and said he was suspected of preparing an attack on a concert in Rotterdam by an American rock band.

The arrest in Brabant province, south of Rotterdam, came hours after police canceled a performance Wednesday night by Los Angeles band Allah-Las at a converted grain silo in the heart of the port city.

"The suspicion is that the suspect is involved in the preparation of a terrorist attack," Rotterdam Police Chief Frank Paauw said.

"There is no terror threat now anymore," he added. "There is no threat because we have arrested a suspect and the information about the threat was so specific on the location of the event that, with that arrest, we can conclude that the threat is gone."

The 22-year-old man was being questioned to determine exactly what his role was in the threat, police spokeswoman Svetlana Westermeijer said. No charges had been filed yet.

If authorities want to prolong the suspect's detention they will have to arraign him at a closed-door hearing with an investigative judge before the end of Friday, prosecution spokeswoman Jeichien de Graaff said.

Police searched the man's home after his arrest but released no details of anything they found. His identity wasn't released, in line with Dutch privacy guidelines.

Security and Justice Minister Stef Blok, in an interview with BNR radio, suggested the suspect may only have spread the threat on a social media platform, though Blok didn't give details.

"The person who spread the message has been picked up and he will be questioned," Blok said in a reference to the man's arrest. "We are very curious to hear from him why he carried out this idiotic action."

Meanwhile, a Spanish mechanic detained Thursday night while driving, apparently drunk, a white van containing a number of gas canisters close to the concert venue was to be questioned once he sobered up, police said.

The Spaniard didn't appear to be a terror suspect, and police said a search of his home uncovered nothing to indicate he was linked to the threat. Explosives experts who combed through the van's contents found a few gas canisters but nothing suspicious, police said.

Dutch Counterterror Coordinator Dick Schoof commended the police action, tweeting that it was "alert, appropriate for the current threat level."

Schoof left the country's threat level unchanged at "substantial," the fourth step of a five-level scale.

It wasn't clear what the nature of the threat to the concert was, or if the band's name played any role in the threat.

In an interview with The Guardian last year, band members said they chose the word Allah, Arabic for God, because they were seeking a "holy-sounding" name and didn't realize it might cause offense.

"We get emails from Muslims, here in the U.S. and around the world, saying they're offended, but that absolutely wasn't our intention," lead singer Miles Michaud said in the interview. "We email back and explain why we chose the name, and mainly they understand."

Police in Warsaw, Poland, said security was being beefed up for the band's performance there Thursday night.

Warsaw police spokesman Robert Szumiata told The Associated Press they had no information of any threat to the concert to be held at the downtown NIEBO, or Heaven, club.

Still, he said that uniformed and plainclothes police would be deployed at and around the concert site in order to "ensure security of people taking part in the concert and those who will find themselves in the area."

Spain, already on high alert following last week's deadly attacks in and near Barcelona that killed 15 people and injured more than 120 others, played a key role in the events of Wednesday and Thursday.

A Spanish counterterrorism official said Spain's Civil Guard received "an alert indicating the possibility of an attack in a concert that was going to take place in Rotterdam."

The Civil Guard shared the information with Dutch authorities Wednesday and was investigating the threat, said the official, who spoke anonymously because the Civil Guard is still analyzing the threat.

Report a typo to the ABC13 staff

Copyright © 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.