By Thomas Escritt
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch and German authorities detained three Dutch citizens on charges of inciting hatred, recruiting militants and plotting attacks in Syria and Iraq, Dutch police said on Thursday.
A 32-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman from The Hague were held in Germany on Thursday, following the detention of a 24-year-old man in The Hague the day before, police said in a statement.
The detentions followed warnings from the Dutch intelligence services that radical Islamist groups in the Netherlands had become a decentralized and elusive "swarm" that would soon broaden their focus from the conflict in Syria to the wider Middle East..
Dutch authorities estimate that 120 Dutch citizens have fought in Syria's civil war, with 14 having been killed in the conflict, which is now in its fourth year.
The detentions were the first of suspects believed to have been involved in recruiting of militants for the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. They came amid rising concerns across Europe about the threat posed by radical Islamic fighters returning from conflicts.
The two men were accused of recruiting fighters to join the conflicts in both countries and of planning murders and other attacks. There was no information on how many fighters had journeyed to the region as a result of their efforts.
All three were suspected of hate crimes, including by posting on social media and news websites with the aim of inciting others to mount militant attacks.
The dangers posed by radicalized and disaffected young people, mostly Muslim immigrants, leaving to fight in Syria and Iraq were highlighted last week when it emerged that the murderer of American journalist James Foley was likely a British citizen.
Police said they had made nine arrests since starting an investigation into so-called Jihadi fighters from the Netherlands in April last year.
(Reporting By Thomas Escritt.; Editing by Anthony Deutsch)