Statewatch article: RefNo# 26244
Netherlands: Religious violence and anti-terrorist measures after the murder of Theo van Gogh
Statewatch Bulletin; vol 14 no 6 November-December 2004
On 2 November, Theo van Gogh was shot dead in the streets of east Amsterdam. The perpetrator, who was arrested shortly afterwards, was a 26-year old with both Dutch and Moroccan nationality. Mohammed B. had left a letter on the film-maker's body which called on Muslims to engage in Jihad. Van Gogh had made a series of provocative anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic statements in the past, claiming that he was defending his "freedom of expression". His most recent provocation was a short film, made with the Somali-born Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, which claimed to be criticising domestic violence and misogynist behaviour within Islamic communities. The fact that it gratuitously showed women behind transparent burkas with Koranic verses projected onto their naked bodies was seen as a calculated insult by many Muslims.

A series of arrests followed the murder. On 5 November, several houses and a restaurant were searched in Amsterdam and Bergen op Zoom and computers and documents were confiscated (on suspicion of being the source of a death threat against the anti-Islamic MP Geert Wilders). Two young men were arrested and accused of having been involved in the murder of van Gogh and having planned others. They are charged with membership of a criminal organisation with terrorist intent and conspiracy to commit murder.

The detention of two more suspects in Den Haag a few days later revealed that the AIVD (security service) had known of a connection between Dutch and Moroccan fundamentalists, (in particular the Moroccan Abdeladim Akoudad, who is accused of the Casablanca bombing of 16 May 2003). The suspects Jason W. and Ismail A. were arrested in The Hague after a tense 14-hour stand-off with Dutch police special forces; four police officers had been injured earlier in the day when a grenade was thrown. The men were arrested after police fired tear gas into the suspects' house in the Laak district. The AIVD were to later claim the men were planning to kill anti-Islamic MPs Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders.

The same day, police also arrested four other suspects in Amsterdam and one in Amersfoort. Authorities claim they are part of the Hofstadgroep (Den Haag Group) and possibly linked to Mohammed B. The group is also allegedly linked to 18-year-old Samir A., who is being held on suspicion of planning attacks against high-profile targets such as Schiphol Airport and the Dutch Parliament.

Dutch police also put out an international search warrant for Redouan al I., (alias Abu Khaled), who is alleged to be the "brains" behind the so-called Hofstadgroep. Redouan al I. was deported to Germany, where he is claiming asylum, earlier this year after having been arrested several times in the Netherlands. Information given by police after the arrests in Den Haag indicates that the security services and police had known of the network since at least in 2003.

Accusations by parliamentarians that the police had ample indication that an attack was planned and could have done more were rejected by police sources and by Justice Minister Donner and Interior Minister Remkes. In a letter to the Tweede Kamer (Upper House) they said that the security services did not know that Mohammed B. was planning an attack, that he was not a key figure in the network and that the threats against van Gogh had been of a "general character". Their letter says the AIVD first became interested in Mohammed B. in August 2002 due to articles he wrote in a local community bulletin. Members of the so-called Hofstadgroep then met in his apartment and he is alleged to have participated in internet discussions on how to make explosives. In late 2003 five members of the group were arrested but were released for lack of evidence.

Anti-Islamic attacks follow murder

The aftermath of van Gogh's murder saw a series of anti-Islamic attacks against mosques and schools and some on Christian churches and schools. Within two weeks more than 20 attacks had tak

Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions oof that licence and to local copyright law. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement.


Click here to return to your search results
For a print friendly version click here
To start a new search, click here
To return to the Statewatch home page click here
Statewatch, PO Box 1516, London N16 0EW, UK. Tel: + 44 (0)207 697 4266 Fax: + 44 (0)208 880 1727 email office@statewatch.org