Cargo Bicycle Frames Bomb Threat

Ongoing Intelligence, HUMINT and Anti-Money-laundering (AML) operations (2007-2015) within the core of Al Qaeda network revealed in November 2013 a connection with organised theft and distribution of exclusive bicycles. Specifically the type cargo bikes often used to transport children around town.

January 2014 the connection was reason to start an investigation that initially targeted the illegal (on-line) sale/export of refurbished second hand and stolen bicycles. Investigations eventually focused on a number of bicycle (repair) shops selling bicycles within the EU to numerous European capitals.

Bicycle frame bomb threat

The shipments to Germany, Belgium, France and Spain contained mainly old city bikes, stock lots, cargo bicycles and an increasing number of cargo bike frames. On the surface all the recipients appeared to be regular trading companies or existing distributors for bicycles.

Only one connection revealed tradecraft, sufficient reason to initiate a low level of monitoring, collecting phone numbers, IMEI’s, IMSI’s, locations, time and duration of the call.


November 2014 during another Anti Money Laundering and risk assessment operation in the Maghreb, Egypt and other parts of the Middle East. Discovering an imminent threat to major cities in Western Europe, as a prime target for the ISIS network, reason for a 90-days terror alert. "intercepted encrypted messages between members of the ISIS network mentioned elements of the coordination for a high profile terror attacks"

Ongoing humint and analysis, regarding the above mentioned Terror Alert, yielded - Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the Caliph of the Islamic State (ISIS) is adamant to demonstrate the extent of his power. He expects to announce and claim significant attacks around the globe in personal messages, emphasizing the scope of his power.


In the second week of October 2015 a coded conversation was intercepted. Among other things it contained the (translated) elements:

  'we will party together' - 'then we'll start blasting all together' - and the animated sound of 'an explosion'

December 26 - "In the days before Christmas a warning was sent out by a friendly (intelligence) service to numerous European capitals, saying that it could come to an attack involving explosives or a shooting between Christmas and the New Year in crowded spaces."

"especially at events and traffic hubs" higher alertness for objects which could carry explosives such as bags or "bicycle frames"

 First published by Ultrascan Humint

The Context

Cycling is at the heart of Dutch culture and society. Quality bicycle facilities make cycling safe and attractive for all and cycling makes Dutch cities healthy, livable and accessible. Both bicycles and bicycling culture are iconic dutch export products.

An association of bicycles with terror, strikes at the heart of Dutch society and core identity.

The Targets

- targets are to be chosen in line with its vision and mission, not only establishing fear by random killings but preferable also aiming to hurt an already weak economy

- The quality of rarely used resources, indicate that the conspirators seek to strike targets with international significance. The soft targets in The Netherlands with international significance are foreigners, tourist and export products.

The Netherlands (or Holland) may be a small country, but it's packed with world famous icons. Tulips bulb fields, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, canals of Amsterdam, masterpieces of Old Masters, Delft Blue earthenware, innovative water-management and millions of bicycles.

Amsterdam is famous for its canals, beautiful houses, “coffee shops”, the Red Light District and Bicycles.


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