Hofstadgroep - the State strikes back

28th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

The defendants claimed they met to discuss their faith in Islam; prosecutors insisted it was an Islamic extremist organisation plotting terror attacks in the Netherlands.

Mohammed B

Mohammed B is said to be a key figure in the group.

Immediately after the brutal murder of film maker Theo van Gogh in November 2004, the authorities suggested his killer Mohammed Bouyeri, now 28, was on the fringes of a group of Dutch-Muslim extremists. His house in Amsterdam-West, we were told, was often used by the group to meet and discuss terrorist plots but he wasn't one of the leading members.

As the investigation progressed and his friends were picked up one by one, the tone began to change - Bouyeri was the leader of the gang reputedly had links to similar networks in Belgium and Spain.

Bouyeri seemed initially to be a well-integrated young man. He completed his secondary education and went on to college. He never quite settled and changed his major several times. He left after five years without obtaining a degree. He worked as a volunteer for a neighbourhood organization in the Slotervaart suburb of Amsterdam and wrote articles for its publication.

The Septemebr 11 attacks and the war in Iraq made a major impression on Bouyeri. His path to radicalisation began shortly after his mother died and his father re-married in 2003. He refused to serve alcohol as part of his work for the local organisation or attend events attended by men and women.

He began living according to strict Islamic rules; gre a long beard and wore the traditional djellaba. He is said to have attended El Tawheed Mosque in Amsterdam where he met other radical Muslims, including Samir A., who has been acquitted several times since in terrorist trials. 

The authorities claimed Bouyeri and his associates set up a network - codenamed Hofstad by the secret service - to terrorise the Netherlands.

Bouyeri claimed he acted alone when he killed Van Gogh "to fulfill his duty" as a Muslim.

Nouredine El F, Rachid B

Police recovered a loaded machine pistol when they arrested Nouredine El F. and two women in Amsterdam on 22 June 2005.

The court on 10 March agreed with the prosecutor that El F played a key role in the Hofstadgroep and jailed him for five years for possession of the weapon.

El F. allegedly knew Mohammed B well and was closely linked to the group's spiritual leader, the Syrian Abu K.

K left the Netherlands on 2 November last year, the day Theo van Gogh was murdered. Rachid B allegedly helped him flee.

Rachid B, 32, was arrested on in London 22 June. He was extradited to the Netherlands in July 2005.

Damning prints

In early June, police in Amsterdam arrested a 47-year-old man suspected of belonging to the Hofstadgroep. His palm print appeared to match one found on a letter pointing to a planned attack on VVD MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

The prints turned out not to match, and the man was released on 24 June but remains under suspicion.

The prosecutor's office has also linked a Chechen man to the group. That suspect was arrested in mid-May in Tours, France, and extradited to the Netherlands in early June. His fingerprints were reportedly found on a farewell letter Mohammed B wrote to his family.

Samir A

In April a Rotterdam court acquitted Samir A, another man linked to the Hofstadgroep, of planning attacks in the Netherlands. His appeal has not yet come up in court.

A's name was mentioned several times during the pro forma hearings of the twelve suspects. The prosecutor's office considers him a core member of the terror group.

Bilal L

Bilal L's name also came up during one of the hearings. The 20-year-old served a sentence for threatening MP Geert Wilders, and was arrested again soon after his release for recruiting jihadists from prison.

Supporting roles

A 40-year-old man from Zierikzee is also in jail on suspicion of membership in a terrorist organisation and is believed to have helped Abu K flee the Netherlands.

Finally, an interpreter for the state security service AIVD, Outman Ben A, was arrested last September for divulging state secrets. He is alleged to have deliberately passed secret information to people including suspected Hofstadgroep members.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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