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Cablegate: A Big Job Ahead for New Dutch Counterterrorist

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/12/2014


REASONS: 1.5 (b & d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: A highly respected bureaucrat, Tjibbe Joustra,
recently assigned to the new Dutch position of
counterterrorism (CT) coordinator, is remarkably candid about
the flaws he sees in the Dutch CT efforts (e.g., lack of
inter-agency coordination; lack of action). He has a broad
mandate to review existing procedures/operations and make
recommendations for improvements. Although focused on internal
coordination and reform, he is open to working with the U.S.
and welcomes our offers of assistance. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) DCM and Global Issues officer met May 11 with Mr.
Joustra, newly named CT coordinator for the Netherlands (April
27 - reftel). Admitting he was new to CT and law enforcement
issues, Joustra pointed out his 14 years of experience in
crisis management as Secretary General of the Agriculture
Ministry, handling mad cow scares, avian flu epidemics and
fallout from the Chernobyl explosion. He also stressed his
management experience in a subsequent assignment consolidating
the government´s six social security programs into one (30
billion Euros). He said security concerns were not an
abstraction for him, but something he had been personally
involved with for many years in his working life. It was
important to protect society´s infrastructure and that was why
he was anxious to take up these new responsibilities.

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3. (C) Joustra said he immediately noticed systematic problems
from the fact CT policy and implementation in the Netherlands
were shared by the Ministers of Justice (Donner) and Interior
(Remkes). As a bureaucrat, he recognizes this is a very
difficult situation which hampers results. There is little
coordination between the Ministers, their Secretaries General
and Directors General. He said he reports first to Minister
Donner, who was actively engaged, and then consults with
Remkes, who appears much less interested. Joustra chairs the
Joint Committee on Counterterrorism, a moribund inter-agency
coordinating group, which he expects to meet monthly in the
future. He also staffs the Council of Ministers, chaired by
the Prime Minister, in discussions on CT issues.

4. (SBU) Joustra said his mandate is to:

- try to coordinate the CT activities of service and policy
agencies and Ministries in a better way;

- evaluate the whole Dutch CT system - policy and
decision-making and implementation - and draft a new system
which is more efficient and transparent;

- increase public awareness of the threat and risk of
terrorism (he said the government had "hardly any plans on how
the public should react to a CT crisis");

- look at existing and planned CT legislation, determine whose
lead is supposed to be followed (national vs. provincial vs.
municipal), and what additional measures are needed;

- coordinate with international CT efforts (he downplayed the
importance of this aspect of his job)

He has deliberately kept his staff small (2 assistants and a
secretary), preferring not to build a rival bureaucracy but to
rely instead upon the government officials who are currently
tasked with CT responsibilities. His tenure runs through the
end of the year.

5. (C) Two recent incidents brought home to Joustra the need
for his work. Donner, Remkes, their Secretaries General and
senior CT officials and Joustra met jointly with AIVD, the
intelligence service, for the first time last week. Joustra
noted immediately the jurisdictional problems in getting
information checked and shared between AIVD and the Ministries
and among the Ministries themselves. When AIVD said the
security situation in the Netherlands had deteriorated
somewhat recently, Joustra asked "what do we do" and no one
knew what measures the government should to take. Joustra also
said he asked his staff to compile a list of all of the CT
schemes the government had announced and what had been done to
implement them. The list of schemes ran more than 40 pages,
while only three pages of them were marked with action taken.
Joustra said the system has to become simpler and more

6. (C) The DCM thanked Joustra for taking the time to meet
with him so soon after his appointment. Joustra noted the DCM
was the first foreign visitor he had received. The DCM offered
Joustra whatever assistance the U.S. could provide, from
information sharing to exchange of best practices to bringing
in experts to setting up meetings, to facilitate his job.
Joustra said he would like to continue reviewing the situation
first, but promised to meet again within 3-4 weeks to renew
the discussion. The DCM noted U.S. frustration with the
compartmentalization of CT efforts within the Dutch government
with the lack of information sharing between offices. He also
said the Dutch failed to see the link between criminal
activity and terrorism - illicit money transfers, fraudulent
documents, etc., and suggested the Dutch needed to look more
broadly at the issue/threat of terrorism. DCM also described
U.S. concerns about cross-border mobility
facilitators/"breeding grounds" in the Netherlands.

7. (C) Joustra acknowledged DCM´s description of Dutch
stovepiping. He also expressed interest in the American
color-coded warning system, asking about its strengths and
weaknesses. He recognized the need to made a real conversion
from a "threat-specific" response system to risk management.

8. (C) COMMENT: Joustra clearly has a big job ahead of him.
Unlike many Dutch officials, he did not hide behind the need
for "consensus," in the hour plus meeting. He noted the need
to bring the appropriate people together to solve a problem
and zeroed in on the need to ACT on CT information. Justice
Minister Donner may have found the right person, a skilled
bureaucrat experienced in crisis management and organizations,
to take a fresh look at Dutch CT efforts and suggest reform.
We are also encouraged by his openness to the U.S. He claimed
he did not want to author just another blue ribbon panel
report. Nonetheless, engineering real, effective change in the
Dutch CT policies and system is a formidable task. END

9. (SBU) Biographic Information:

Tjibbe Herman Jan Joustra

DPOB: February 6, 1951 in Hengelo, Gelderland Province, the


Fluent in English

Studied law at Groningen University (his thesis was on
American antitrust law), graduating in 1975

1975-2001 Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Fisheries

- Director of Legal and Managerial Affairs/Deputy Secretary
General (1983-1987)
- Secretary General (1987-2001) (the senior most bureaucrat in
a Ministry - his SG colleagues speak very highly of him)(USDA
notes that he did not come up through the Ministry on the
policy, trade or international affairs side of the house)

2002-2004 Organization for the Implementation of Workers´
Insurance (UWV) (responsible for merging the government´s six
social security/pension schemes into one, with more than 30
billion Euros in assets; he resigned in a dispute with the
Social Affairs Minister who criticized the costs of Joustra´s
office renovations)

2004 Chair of the Joint Committee on Counterterrorism/National
CT Coordinator


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