Saturday, February 26, 2005

The World Turned Upside Down

Don't that beat all. When the blog Dutch Report reported that two parliamentary representatives, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders had been kept in prison cells to protect them against Islamic death threats, I refused at first to believe it. The Dutch Report is in English and since I could not read the source documents directly, the report seemed too unlikely to be true. But the more I read, even in translation, the less it seemed like a parody. For example:

Parliamentary chairman Weisglas now says he is “shocked by the disinterested reactions” in parliament after the protest of representatives Hirsi Ali and Wilders. ”I think the parliamentary members accept it way to easy that a colleague, has to sleep for months in a prison cell”. He describes it as a “disgrace” and “a pathetic show” that Wilders is in prison to protect him against terrorism. Weisglas says he has this weekend made it “very clear” to the government that the two representatives should be able to live in normal circumstances. ...

Security expert Hans Salman says in NRC newspaper that he nearly couldn’t believe the news: “Wilders? In a prison?”. With his company International Security Partners (ISP) he often works for families who need personal protection....  He was also involved in the protection of the Turkeys ambassador, who was under threat of the ultra nationalistic Turkeys Gray Wolves. ... “This is asking for trouble” he says and continues with: “Every body knows that nobody can endure something like this.”.

Former Amsterdam police commissioner and security expert Kees Sietsma ...  says, Hirsi Ali and Wilders are right to say that in countries like Israel, the United States, Spain and Italy, the living addresses of people under threat are not secret. ... Arie Duijdam of Interseco, the biggest personnel protection firm in The Netherlands also thinks there are other alternatives.

But Reuters provided collateral confirmation. The article Threatened Dutch MP Reveals Living on Navy Base says:

NRC Handelsblad said Ayaan Hirsi Ali had revealed her secret residence on a navy base to protest against the circumstances of her hiding. ... The newspaper said Hirsi Ali was living on a heavily guarded navy base in Amsterdam, while anti-immigration populist Geert Wilders, whose life has also been threatened, was sleeping in a prison cell in the central Dutch town of Zeist.

Expatica reports that the accommodations weren't the equivalent of a BOQ or any such, but a real jail cell.

Wilders is also an outspoken critic of the Islamic faith, calling for an end to immigration of Muslims to the Netherlands. He is also opposed to Turkey accession to the EU. He has been living at Camp Zeist for some time, which was formerly used to house the two Libyan suspects of the Lockerbie bombing. It now houses arrested immigrants and normal detainees. Wilders has been told he will be staying at the jail — and sleeping in a jail cell — until at least September when he will be given his own living space.

The complaints of the Dutch parliamentary representatives were greeted with dismay. The revelation, it was said, would put the base in danger of attack. Hirsi Ali 'put guards in danger' says:

22 February 2005 Amsterdam — MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali placed not only herself and right-winger Geert Wilders, but also their bodyguards and other officials, in danger by revealing the location of her safe house, Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner said on Tuesday.

The description involuntarily recalled the classic scene in the original Terminator movie where an unstoppable android kills all the cops in a station house to reach its designated target. Camp Zeist -- the secure location in question -- was used to hold the Lockerbie bombers, and is, if anything, somewhat more formidable that the garden variety station house. No one wants to put things to the proof. According to the Dutch Report, members of the press are asking why Hirsi Ali simply doesn't quit politics to avoid further unpleasantness.

The press and other parliamentary members, some even of her own liberal (VVD) party have attacked Hirsi Ali in the past and suggested that her work as representative is under pressure and said she could better stop.

That would solve the problem for sure, but what happens if Europe is threatened by more than a handful of Islamic terrorists? What to do for an encore?