Bjorn Wijers on Wed, 2 Nov 2005 22:18:47 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> some thoughts from the lowlands about terrorism..

Hi there,

Usually I kinda lurk over here but today I wanted to share my little story and
thoughts about a false terrorism alarm in Amsterdam, The Netherlands yesterday. I
posted this on my blog when I suddenly realized that this might be interesting to
read for the people on this list.  Finally I can shake of my cover as a lurker ;)

Bear with me if my English isn't top notch and feel free to point out any

--Terrorism accomplishes its goal without bombs in the Lowlands--

Yesterday I was finished with work and wanted to go home. As usual I'll check some
websites to see if there were any delays with the trains.  Since the liberalising
of the public transport delays are quite common.  So I visited and read that
the trains between Amsterdam Central and Utrecht would have delays of more than 60
minutes due to a suspicious parcel in the international train. The police had
ordered the train to be held at station Muiderpoort which caused an enormous

I decided to leave work anyway and see if I could find some way home.  Which means
finding transport to Utrecht. I phoned my girlfriend and told her about the
problems. We wanted to go out this evening to see the film Paradise Now, a film
about suicide bombers in Palestine (how ironic). We cancelled our tickets and I
told E. that I would try to come home anyway. Even if it meant a delay of more
than 60 minutes.

Leaving work, got into the subway and I wanted to take the train to Amsterdam
Amstel. I heard an announcement mentioning the advice to take the subway to
Duivendrecht. The first train of line 54 that came by was stuffed. I mean sardines
in a can kinda stuffed. It always gives me the creeps to go into these cramped
spaces so I decide to take one train later. This was a very good idea. This one
was practically empty.

I arrived at Duivendrecht and saw the enormous crowd. It was virtually impossible
to stand at the station without pushing somebody else. It became very hectic and
some people moved quite aggressively through the crowds, pushing people almost
over the edge. Literally. I wanted to get out as quickly as possible and went to
the busstation. I met a very friendly bus driver that told me that about line 120,
a bus going from Holendrecht near the AMC hospital to Utrecht. Once again I was on
the move.

Although moving wasn't really the right word to describe it. I was pushing and
shoving my way through the crowd, that seemed to have grown exponential. Finally I
arrived at the same platform I had just left. I catched the train to Holendrecht
and just in time. In the meantime E.  had phoned to say that the bus driver was
correct about the bus departing from Holendrecht to Utrecht and that I had just a
few minutes to catch it. So I ran.

The running was quite useless as the bus arrived about fifteen minutes late.
Finally I had found my transport home. In total it took me more than three hours
to arrive at home. More than double the normal commute of an hour and a half. At
home the first thing I did was switching on the television to watch the news.

On the news they said it was a false alarm triggered by (over-protective)
passengers of the international train that watched two man in djellabas
(traditional clothing) going to and from the lavatory sometimes with their luggage
and sometimes not. Behaviour that might be different than 'normal' and therefore
might be dangerous especially because the men looked so "Arabic". Or as one of the
passengers supposedly said:

"They would have been very stupid to be muslim terrorists as they looked so much
like them"

Apperently other passengers did agree on the terrorist part and took the behaviour
of the two man as a serious threat and called the police. I always understood that
terrorism is about destabilizing, creating chaos and fear. In that sense the
terrorists have already won in the Netherlands without using bombs.

A link about the events on the website (in Dutch)

Feel free to use this story under the conditions of the Creative Commons
Attribution 2.5 Netherlands License. To view a copy of this license, visit

If you change this piece please make this visible to the reader so they know your
version differs from the original. If you repost this I'd like to hear about it.

Bjorn Wijers (original post)


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