[TEMPORARY NOTICE, 2019-04-26: until this notice is removed, minor changes may be to improve spelling/grammar/legibility. The current post is 99-100% camera-ready.]
This post provides information about the tasking of the Dutch intelligence activities in 2019-2022 based on recent official public documents. The “Geïntegreerde Aanwijzing Inlichtingen en Veiligheid 2019-2022” policy (aka “GAI&V” aka “GA”), which literally translates to “Integrated Instruction on Intelligence & Security 2019-2022”, describes the Dutch cabinet decisions on tasking of the Dutch intelligence & security services AIVD (general / non-military) and MIVD (military) for 2019-2022. The GA has a public body and a secret appendix. The remainder of this post is based on:
- the Note of Explanation that accompanied the GA, released by the ministers of the Interior and of Defense on 4 December 2018;
- the outlines of the MIVD year plan for 2019, released by the minister of Defense on 29 February 2019.
Side note: Dr. Paul Abels, professor of intelligence at Leiden University and former AIVD official, has warned that the introduction of the GA — first seen in 2018 — comes at the risk of politicization of intelligence, because the GA is established by the cabinet, and hence prone to politics (at least in theory; no claim is made that the present GA has characteristics of intent to misuse intelligence for political purposes).
Translation of the Note of Explanation that accompanied the GA (some parts omitted or slightly adapted for readability):
The GAI&V, or GA for short, is established by the prime minister, i.e., the minister of General Affairs; the minister of the Interior; and the minister of Defense. The GA determines what investigations the AIVD and MIVD are to carry out, divided by countries, regions and themes, and it lays down a planning and priorities. The GA does not only determine what investigations the AIVD and MIVD each need to carry out, but also what investigations must be carried out in joint effort by both services, as per the cooperation laid down in Article 86 of the Intelligence & Security Services Act of 2017 (“Wiv2017”).
The GA is made for a period of four years and evaluated annually. The classified appendix of the GA describes intelligence objectives, agreements for cooperation between the AIVD and MIVD, and an elaboration on the desired scope and depth of investigations.
The topics of investigation are determined to gather intelligence that is hard or impossible to obtain via other means, for instance diplomatic channels, to support the Dutch government in establishing foreign policy and in international negotiations. This concerns information that is crucial to national security and is only available at foreign intelligence & security services, or that can only be obtained by the AIVD and/or MIVD. This means the activities of the AIVD and MIVD are complementary to existing tasks of the ministry of Foreign Affairs and its representations abroad (e.g. Dutch embassies abroad). The foreign intelligence task must not be assessed in a narrow sense of immediate use for the Dutch government. Joint European efforts, efforts in allied context, and efforts in international law are taken into account when answering the questions whether and to what extent a certain theme is in the interest of national security. The intelligence yields can be used in bilateral and multilateral cooperation with other countries, insofar possible within the legal framework.
The ability to detect and identify developments that are unknown or not readily visible is of importance to the government, in order for the government to be able to investigate how to respond to sudden, unexpected developments or (imminent) incident in foreign countries, and regarding the response of foreign governments to terrorist threats; or to prepare for civil missions in which the Netherlands participates.
The investigatory themes relate to the ‘a-task’ of the AIVD (national security) and to the ‘a-task’ and ‘c-task’ of the MIVD (security & readiness of the Dutch military; and protecting and promoting the international rule of law).
The unstable and less predictable security environment of the Netherlands is an expression of globally changing power relations, where power and initiative shift to countries who have a different look on the world than us. The threat mostly comes from countries with big geopolitical ambitions. Foreign states are seeking for information to modernize their armed forces, to strengthen their economy, to influence political decision-making or to create strategic dependencies, to thereby increase their geopolitical position. To achieve such objectives, they carry out espionage. This can involve classical espionage, but also digital espionage, and increasingly often a combination of both. Hacking provides a means to sabotage, to use acquired information in decision-making or to influence public opinion. Foreign corporate takeovers and foreign investments are used to create strategic dependence on them.
The terrorist threat in the Netherlands is still an important investigatory theme for the AIVD and MIVD. This threat stems mostly from the global jihadist movement. The AIVD and MIVD carry out intensive investigations into jihadist and radicalized persons and organizations, both domestically and abroad. They also investigate citizens who turned foreign fighter, and returnees. Partner organizations are informed so that they can take measures, leading for instance to possible arrests and criminal prosecution of returnees.
Furthermore, developments in various weapon programs in “countries of concern”, such as North Korea, Iran and countries in the Middle East pose an increasing threat to international security. This involved the development and proliferation of WMDs, means of transportation (ballistic missiles), and chemical and biological weapons. The MIVD investigates military-technological developments in foreign countries, so that the Dutch armed forces can be prepared en protected adequately against existing and future threats.
The AIVD and MIVD investigate developments within right-wing extremism to get insight into radicalization of persons and groups inspired by right-wing extremism. Left-wing extremists are often active in multiple areas, often in changing groups (‘opportunity-based coalitions’), and sometimes operate internationally. Acts against the ministry of Defense from left-wing activist and/or left-wing extremist persons and groups are mainly focused on four themes: recruitment of new employees, the defense industry, the potential storage of nuclear weapons, and the involvement of Defense in execution of the policy on asylum and aliens.
From the outlines of the MIVD year plan for 2019 (note: this is mostly about the MIVD, but touches on themes relevant to both AIVD & MIVD):
Investigation into foreign countries
The investigation into foreign countries offers the Dutch government and armed forces information and perspectives for acting in conflict prevention and management. In 2019, the MIVD will conduct investigations into Afghanistan, Mali, Syria and Iraq. The deployment of Dutch soldiers in enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) is also supported by the MIVD. In addition, the MIVD, together with the AIVD, is investigating the political and socio-economic crisis in Venezuela and the possible impact on the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Counterproliferation and proliferation of military technology
Weapons of mass destruction pose a major threat to international peace and security. The Netherlands has signed treaties aimed at preventing the proliferation of such weapons. The AIVD and the MIVD are jointly investigating countries that are suspected of working, or contradicting them, to develop weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.
The MIVD also investigates military-technological developments in other countries and the proliferation of high-quality military technology and weapon systems to crisis areas, so that the Dutch armed forces can be properly equipped against existing and future threats.
Espionage and foreign influence
Espionage, influencing and sabotage pose a serious and growing threat to the Netherlands and its allies. States that have major geopolitical ambitions are looking for information to modernize their armed forces, to strengthen their economy or to influence political decision-making. This may involve classic espionage, but also digital espionage and, increasingly often, a combination of both. Hacking offers opportunities for sabotage and influencing political and administrative decision-making or public opinion through the use of hacked information. Countries also try to obtain information or create strategic dependencies through takeovers or investments.
Radicalization and extremism
The investigation into phenomena of radicalization, of whatever form, among Defense personnel will be continued in 2019. The aim of this investigation is to identify undesirable behavior in a timely manner. The MIVD advises on measures to be taken to identify and deal with these threats. Promoting awareness and understanding requires constant attention.
Outlines of other tasks and objectives in 2019
In addition to the priorities described above, other tasks and objectives for 2019 are given below.
The MIVD has the task of conducting security investigations, as laid out in the Wiv2017 and in the Security Investigations Act (Wvo). Since 1 October 2018, the AIVD and MIVD have been working together in the Security Investigations Unit (UVO). This implements the Dessens Committee’s recommendation to form a joint organization for security investigations. In 2019, the policies on security investigations by the AIVD and MIVD will harmonized, as recommended by the Review Committee on the Intelligence and Security Services (CTIVD).
Regulation of general security requirements for defensie industry companies (ABDO)
The ABDO regulation requires that Defense industry companies are screened. The Ministry of Defense is dependent on third parties for the implementation of large-scale projects and carrying out certain tasks. In addition to the mandatory screening, the MIVD will also carry out investigations in 2019 into espionage and cyber activities that foreign powers may develop against the Defense industry. An important point for attention in this regard are companies that are actively involved in the replacement of defense equipment. The Ministry of Defense will collaborate more closely with the Netherlands Industries for Defense & Security Foundation (NIDV) in the field of cyber security, with the objective of strengthening the (digital) security of the Dutch defense industry and making defense companies more aware of the threat.
Colocation of AIVD and MIVD
As stated in the annual plan letter from the AIVD that was sent to your House on 21 December 2018 (Parliamentary Papers, 30 977, no. 153), there have been a number of developments that have led to a new study into the physical integration of the joint housing at Frederik Barracks and financial consequences. This study takes a little more time than expected. We will inform you about this shortly.
Readers who understand Dutch may also be interested in taking a look at the FY 2019 budget plans for the Dutch MoD, published on 18 September 2018.