Dutch Special Operations

Bijzondere Bijstands Eenheid (BBE)


The Bijzondere Bijstands Eenheid (Special Assistance Unit, BBE) is a Dutch counterterrorism unit. It is part of Netherlands Marine Corps and was founded in the 1970s after the Munich massacre at the Olympics on 5 September 1972, when eight Palestinian terrorists took hostage and then murdered nine Israeli athletes and two others in an incident that showed the west’s woeful state of preparedness for terrorist acts.

The unit’s motto is “Semper Paratus pro Justitia”, which means “Always Ready for Justice”.


On February 22nd 1973 the Dutch government decided to create a special counterterrorist unit. The Dutch Marine Corps was selected because of its bad image at the time; the idea was that people’s opinion would change about the Corps. The Dutch Marine Corps had a reputation as hardened, professional soldiers.

Today the unit has more than 150 members, all selected from the Marines and individual selected. It has a professional reputation because of the many conflicts the unit has resolved.


They have seen combat on several occasions. In October of 1974 the BBE retook Scheveningen prison from interned Palestine terrorists using only stun grenades and hand-to-hand combat, despite the fact that the terrorists were armed.

Their most famous operation was the June 11, 1977 simultaneous assault of a school-house and train seized by South Moluccan terrorists. During the short battle for the train, six terrorists were killed: unfortunately, two hostages also died. However, in their action over 200 people were freed (105 children and 98 adults had been captured between the two locations). One of the unique aspects of their assault was the use of air force F-104 Starfighters for a diversion. At midnight, right before the assault, two F-104’s flew over the train at supersonic speed. The resulting sonic boom disoriented the terrorists, making their efforts to fight back less effective.

Members of the BBE were in the Adriatic Sea ready to board vessels attempting to break the Serbian arms embargo in the early 1990s but they were never used.

The last known operation of the BBE was at 19:00 at the 10 November 2004 in Den Haag. After the police tried to arrest Ismail Akhnikh and Jason Walters members of the Hofstad Network at a house at the Laakkwartier three agents got wounded by bobby-traps placed at the door. The operators of the BBE where ordered to secure and maintain the site. After a successful raid the two persons got arrested.


Members of the different units use different weapons for their tasks. Assault unit members use the Heckler & Koch MP5 and Colt Lawman .357 revolver or SIG-Sauer P-226. Snipers use either the FN FAL rifle, the H&K G3 MSG or the Steyr SSG. It is important to note, however, that members of BBE have been reluctant to use deadly force in the past, instead preferring to use methods that enable them to capture instead of kill.


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