Dutch PM Mark Rutte a kidnap target for Ridouan Taghi drugs gang

Security service officers assigned to protect the cycle-loving Netherlands leader

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is famously fond of travelling around The Hague by bike. EPA
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Dutch police have increased security for Prime Minister Mark Rutte over fears he may be targeted for kidnapping or an attack by drug gangs, local media reported on Monday.

The threat against Mr Rutte comes after the Dutch government pledged a crackdown on organised crime groups following the murder of a prominent investigative reporter in August.

The 54-year-old centre-right prime minister has been shadowed by so-called spotters for a notorious drug trafficking gang called the "Mocro Mafia", De Telegraaf newspaper and several broadcasters reported.

Mr Rutte's office, the Dutch national co-ordinator for security and counterterrorism, and the national prosecutor's office declined to comment on the reports.

But De Telegraaf said there were "signals that [Rutte] may be the target of an attack or kidnapping" and that "suspicious" people with known links to the Mocro Mafia had been seen near him at different times and places.

Similar spotters were involved in the murders of a Dutch crime reporter Peter R de Vries in July, and of a lawyer for a witness in the trial of an alleged boss of the same gang in 2019, the newspaper said.

"That is so worrying for the security services that he is being secured," Telegraaf journalist Mick van Wely told NOS public television.

Specially trained police officers from the Dutch Royal and Diplomatic Security Service had been assigned to protect Rutte with both "visible and invisible measures", De Telegraaf reported.

Mr Rutte is fond of travelling by bike around The Hague, even arriving on two wheels to meetings with the Dutch king and with foreign leaders, with little apparent security in tow.

In July, he apologised for lifting Covid lockdown measures too soon.

Dutch authorities vowed to tackle organised crime after the murder of de Vries.

The journalist had recently acted as adviser and confidant of Nabil B., the state's key witness in the case against Ridouan Taghi, described as the country's most wanted criminal and a key leader of the gangsters.

The gang is nicknamed the Mocro Mafia and its members are mainly of Moroccan and Antillean origin.

Updated: September 27, 2021, 1:45 PM