Man arrested near concert venue has "no link" to terror threat

People gather at the scene where police were investigating a van (not pictured) with Spanish licence plates containing gas bottles that was found near a concert hall in Rotterdam, in a handout picture obtained by Reuters, Aug. 23, 2017.

REUTERS

Last Updated Aug 24, 2017 6:24 AM EDT

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands -- Dutch police investigating a terror threat that prompted the cancellation of a concert by an American rock band in Rotterdam arrested a 22-year-old man in the early hours of Thursday, but said a man detained the previous day, who had gas canisters in his van, was not linked to the threat.

Police spokesman Roland Ekkers told The Associated Press that the man detained on Thursday was arrested in the province of Brabant, south of Rotterdam

"He is in custody and will be questioned about the threat in Rotterdam," police said in a statement, adding that they conducted a thorough search of his home. Dutch police do not generally release identities or other details of suspects in criminal investigations.

Meanwhile, police said the driver of a Spain-registered white van carrying a number of gas canisters that was stopped Wednesday night close to the Maassilo concert venue -- where the band Allah-Las had been due to perform -- was unlikely to be a suspect in the threat probe.

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Authorities search a van that was stopped in Rotterdam on Wednesday night not far from a concert venue where a show by American rock band Allah-Las was canceled due to an unspecified threat.

Reuters

Speaking to CBS News, an officer in the Rotterdam police press office said the man "was drunk." He was stopped for erratic driving -- not due to any information provided beforehand by police in Spain or the Netherlands.  

"We tried to ask him questions but he was too drunk to answer," the officer said, adding that the gas canisters in his van were "related to his job."

Explosives experts checked his van and found nothing suspicious beyond the gas canisters, according to the police.

A search of the man's home "uncovered no link with the terror threat ... at the Maassilo," police said.

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Police stand during the evacuation the Maassilo concert venue after a concert by Californian ban Allah-Las was canceled in relation to a terror attack threat, according to police and the venue, on Aug. 23, 2017, in Rotterdam.

Getty

The performance by the Los Angeles band in Rotterdam was called off Wednesday night after Spanish authorities tipped Dutch police about a possible threat to the concert.

The van driver was detained for questioning two hours after the cancellation.

A Spanish counterterrorism official said Spain's Civil Guard received "an alert indicating the possibility of an attack in a concert that was going to take place in Rotterdam."

It was not clear what the nature of the threat to the concert was, or if the band's name played any role in the threat.

In an interview with British newspaper 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 realize it might cause offense.

"We get emails from Muslims, here in the U.S. 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."

According to their website, the band was scheduled to play in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday night. 

The Civil Guard shared the information with Dutch authorities Wednesday and was investigating the threat, said the source, who spoke anonymously because the Civil Guard is still probing the threat.

Spanish authorities tipped off their Dutch counterparts to the threat in the wake of the deadly attack in Barcelona by a terror cell based in the northeastern Spanish town of Ripoll. 

New video emerged on Thursday showing three of the suspects from that terror cell laughing and joking with each other in a gas station just several hours before one of their brothers drove a van over dozens of people in Barcelona. 

All three of the men seen in the security camera video were shot to death by police later the same evening in the seaside town of Cambrils, south of Barcelona, when they emerged from a vehicle and attacked pedestrians with knives and an ax. 

The three men seen in the video were Omar Hychami, Houssaine Abouyaaqoub, who's brother Younes drove the van down the Las Ramblas promenade in Barcelona, and Moussa Oukabir. All the suspects in that cell were of Moroccan origin, and most had lived in Ripoll.