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The Dutch counterterror agency has raised the national threat alert to the second-highest level

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch counterterrorism agency on Tuesday lifted the country’s threat alert to its second-highest level, saying the possibility of an attack in the country is now “substantial.”

The announcement marked the first time the threat level has been so high since the end of 2019 and came a week after the European Union’s home affairs commissioner, Ylva Johansson, warned that the continent faces a ” huge risk of terrorist attacks ” over the Christmas holiday period because of the fallout from the war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

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The Dutch National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security also said in its threat assessment that “the violent conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Quran desecrations in various European countries and calls for attacks from terrorist organizations have increased the threat from jihadism.”

The report cited recent attacks in nearby European countries and arrests of terror suspects in the Netherlands and neighboring countries as a reason for raising the threat level. It added that “the threat from right-wing extremism and anti-institutional extremism remains unabated.”

The agency said that while the raised threat assessment doesn’t mandate specific actions to ramp up security, it “enables security partners (such as the police, municipalities and ministries) to take measures to combat the threat.”

Attacks have happened recently in neighboring France and Belgium.

Earlier this month, a 23-year-old German-Filipino tourist was fatally stabbed near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The man accused of the attack is under investigation on charges of murder and attempted murder in connection with a terrorist organization. He had been under surveillance for suspected Islamic radicalization, and had been convicted and served prison time for a planned attack that never took place.

In October, authorities in Brussels shot and killed a Tunisian national hours after they say he shot three Swedish soccer fans, killing two of them, and posted a video online in which he claimed credit for the attack and said the Quran was “a red line for which he is ready to sacrifice himself.”

Sweden raised its terror alert to the second-highest level in August after a string of public desecrations of the Quran sparked angry demonstrations across Muslim countries and threats from militant groups.

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