Sunday 19 January 2020

Van driver held by Rotterdam police after concert cancelled following terror tip

A van is examined behind a cordoned-off area in Rotterdam, Wednesday Aug. 23, 2017, after a concert by an American rock band was cancelled Wednesday night following a threat, the city's mayor said. Police detained the driver of a van with Spanish license plates carrying a number of gas tanks inside. (RTL via AP)
A van is examined behind a cordoned-off area in Rotterdam, Wednesday Aug. 23, 2017, after a concert by an American rock band was cancelled Wednesday night following a threat, the city's mayor said. Police detained the driver of a van with Spanish license plates carrying a number of gas tanks inside. (RTL via AP)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Police in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam detained the driver of a van with Spanish licence plates and a number of gas tanks inside after a concert by an American rock band was cancelled on Wednesday night following a threat, the city's mayor said.

Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said at a hastily arranged press conference that the van's Spanish driver was being questioned by police.

Military explosives experts were deployed to Rotterdam to examine the van, police said.

Police earlier said the concert by Los Angeles band Allah-Las was called off after Dutch police received a terror warning.

Miles Michaud, lead singer of the California band Allah-Las, performs during the second and last day of the Corona Capital Music Festival in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, file)
Miles Michaud, lead singer of the California band Allah-Las, performs during the second and last day of the Corona Capital Music Festival in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, file)

Mr Aboutaleb said the warning came from Spanish police.

He declined to give further details on the nature of the warning or where in Spain it came from, adding that it was too soon to link the van to unspecified threat directed at the concert.

"It is not yet good to say that the things are linked," Mr Aboutaleb said.

"It still has to be established that there was a link between the van and the threat. We can't say that yet."

Police in Spain have been investigating the deadly vehicle attacks last week that killed 15 people in and near Barcelona.

They later found bomb-making equipment that included more than 100 tanks of butane gas, nails, and 500 litres of acetone.

Rotterdam police said they took the information about a threat "seriously enough that after discussion with organisers it was decided to cancel the event".

Concert organiser Rotown said earlier on Twitter that the concert venue, a former grain silo called Maassilo, was being evacuated because of the unspecified threat.

The show had not yet started when the decision to cancel it was made.

Dutch television showed officers in body armour outside Maassilo and what appeared to be members of the band leaving the venue in a white van with a police escort.

Allah-Las is a four-piece band from Los Angeles.

The band's label, Mexican Summer, said: "Due to a potential terror threat at The Maassilo in Rotterdam, the Allah-Las show was cancelled tonight.

"Details are not available at this time as the incident is still under investigation.

"The band is unharmed and are very grateful to the Rotterdam Police and other responsible agencies for detecting the potential threat before anyone was hurt."

In an interview with The Guardian last year, band members said they chose the word Allah, Arabic for God, because they were seeking a "holy sounding" name and did not realise it might cause offence.

"We get emails from Muslims, here in the US and around the world, saying they're offended, but that absolutely wasn't our intention," lead singer Miles Michaud told the newspaper.

"We email back and explain why we chose the name, and mainly they understand."

In an interview with The Guardian last year, band members said they chose the word Allah, Arabic for God, because they were seeking a "holy sounding" name. They said they didn't realise it might offend Muslims.

Lead singer Miles Michaud told the newspaper that the group received emails from Muslims around the world who said they were offended. He said the band usually wrote back and explained its intentions were honourable "and mainly they understand".

PA Media

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