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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Hofstadgroep trial chronology and update: Member's profiles

Hofstadgroep trial chronology and update: Member's profiles

December 24, 2005

MIM: This is the latest news from Radio Netherlands on the trial of the Hofstadgroep. For more see

Hofstadgroep trial testimony update:


  • A 17-year-old woman, the ex-wife of Nouredine el-Fatmi, is forced to appear as a witness against her will. She chooses to say nothing. An earlier statement she gave to the police is read out in court. In this, she reports that Nouredine el-Fatmi said that Theo van Gogh and MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali ought to be killed. The statement also describes how her former husband tried to spur her on to carry out a suicide attack on a shopping centre.
  • The court hears expert witness Professor Ruud Peters (field of expertise: Islamic Law). He says that the main accused, Mohammed Bouyeri, was clearly the central figure in the Hofstad group, but that he did not incite the others to carry out violent acts. He also says that Mohammed Bouyeri's call for opponents to be killed was made a relatively short time before he murdered Theo van Gogh.
  • The Public Prosecutor's Office announces that Nouredine el-Fatmi will also have to stand trial in the new case against Samir Azzouz, who is now facing charges of planning terrorist attacks. This - separate - trial has yet to begin.
  • The defence calls Saleh Bouali (accused) as a witness. He's regarded as having been on the periphery of the Hofstad group. Hofstad members have accused him of infiltrating the group on behalf of the AIVD. Samir Azzouz is said to be willing to testify against Saleh Bouali.
  • The Public Prosecutor's offices says there is no point in calling the man who allegedly inspired the group, Radwan al-Issa, also known as "The Syrian", to testify since he is on the run and seems to have disappeared without trace.


  • The court begins to hear the accused individually. The first to be questioned is Mohammed Bouyeri, who is already serving a life sentence for killing Theo van Gogh in November 2004. It turns out that he already gave an official statement on 17 November 2005, in which he says that he acted alone and that no one else knew of his plans nor assisted him in any way. He answers very few questions. He also fails to respond when asked if "The Syrian" prompted him to carry out the killing by means of fatwa (a ruling which is normally based on Islamic law).
  • The court announces that two people have given statements which contain incriminating material concerning Nouredine el-Fatmi. These people will be required to give evidence in the current trial.


  • Jason Walters (accused) is questioned in court and says he has been in contact with other alleged members of the Hofstad group since 2003. He claims the radical statements he made on the Internet were a matter of 'bragging' on his part.
  • The court announces that Saleh Bouali will be heard on Monday 12 December.


  • Saleh Bouali testifies and denies having supplied hand grenades. One of the accused, Jason Walters, responds by saying "why are you lying?". Background information: forensic examination of the grenades failed to find any traces of Saleh Bouali's DNA.
  • Saleh Bouali also denies having been an AIVD informer, but says he was followed and approached by the intelligence service.
    Ismail Akhnikh (accused) says he does not want to give an account of his religious faith. He claims that the throwing of a hand grenade at police during the siege of the flat in The Hague where he was later arrested was the result of panic and that he could do nothing to prevent it from happening.


  • Zakaria Taybi (accused) is called to testify but refuses to speak in court, not even to explain how his name should be pronounced. He is regarded as one of the 'hangers on' of the Hofstad group. He accompanied Jason Walters on a trip to Pakistan in 2003.
  • The court orders the release of Saleh Bouali. Apparently the evidence against him is insufficient to justify holding him in custody any longer. Furthermore, contrary to the claims made by some of the accused, no evidence has been found to establish that he worked for the AIVD.
  • Witness H.S. testifies against key suspect Nouredine el-Fatmi. She tells the court that Nouredine el-Fatmi rented accommodation in Brussels, was involved in gun smuggling and practised with firearms in an Amsterdam park.
  • Witness A.A. testifies that Nouredine el-Fatmi knew in advance that Mohammed Bouyeri was planning to assassinate Theo van Gogh and even encouraged him to carry out his plans. Nouredine el-Fatmi contradicted the two witnesses, but made no further comments.
  • Youssef Ettoumi, one of the accused, is examined in court. He is regarded as one of the ‘hangers on' of the Hofstad group. A large quantity of jihad-related propaganda material was found at his home in November 2004. He claims this material belonged to co-accused Zine Labidine Aouragha, who lived at his home for some time. The court decides to hear both these accused as witnesses in each other's trial. While ‘normal' witnesses are required to take an oath and speak the truth, this does not apply to the accused.
  • Youssef Ettoumi also claims he was approached by the AIVD intelligence service and asked to be an informer. He says he refused.


  • Youssef Ettoumi and Zine Labidine Aouaraghe appear in court, this time as witnesses. Both men invoke their right to refuse to testify on the grounds that it could harm their own case, and remain silent.


  • The court orders the release of Rachid Bousana, who has been in custody for over a year. If found guilty and convicted, the expected prison sentence is unlikely to exceed his pre-trial detention. According to the prosecutor's office, Rachid Bousana played a supportive part in the Hofstad group, knew Mohammed Bouyeri well and was found to posses an extensive amount of extremist literature.


  • The court hears the case of Mohamed Fahmi Boughabe, another follower of the Hofstad group prosecuted for membership of a terrorist network.

The 'Hofstad' group - background and profiles

Radio Netherlands

compiled by Saskia van Reenen*,

23 December 2005


Verdachten Hofstadgroep (Copyright ANP)

What led up to the current trial of the alleged members of the terrorist organisation known as the 'Hofstad' group? Below you will find a chronological list of events and short profiles of the 14 individuals now on trial.

Incidents and arrests (chronological order)

2002 The Dutch AIVD intelligence service first becomes aware of the Hofstad group.
February 2003 Samir Azzouz tries to travel to Chechnya, probably to take part in the jihad. Ukrainian border police stop him and send him back.
17-10-2003 Samir Azzouz, Radwan al-Issa, Jason Walters, Ismail Akhnikh and Zine Labedine Aouragha are arrested on suspicion of preparing a terrorist attack. The case is dropped due to lack of evidence.
2003 Jason Walters and Ismail Akhnikh visit Muslim fundamentalist training camps in Pakistan.
October 2003 The Syrian Abu Khaled, thought to be the spiritual mentor of the Hofstad group, is found to be illegally resident in the Netherlands and is deported to Germany.
2004 The AIVD intelligence service observes more of the Hofstad group's movements; the members meet at Mohammed Bouyeri's home in a suburb of Amsterdam. At these meetings, they study extreme Islamic ideas and watch videos from Chechnya of beheadings of non-Muslims.
April 2004 Samir Azzouz is arrested as a co-suspect in an armed robbery at the supermarket where he works. Police raid his home and find items including maps and floor plans of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, the Lower House of the Dutch parliament and the nuclear power station at Borssele.
11-06-2004 At the European football championships in Portugal, police arrest a number of men on suspicion of planning an attack on Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Barroso. They include Nouredine el-Fatmi and Mohammed el-Morabit. They are deported to the Netherlands and interrogated by the Dutch intelligence service. They are released due to lack of evidence.
01-11-2004 One day before the murder of Theo van Gogh, one of the Hofstad group's leaders, Nouredine el-Fatmi flees the Netherlands on a false passport. He travels to Morocco.
02-11-2004 Mohammed Bouyeri is arrested shortly after the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh. The police also arrest Ahmed Hamdi - allegedly the financial brain behind the Hofstad group.Â
10-11-2004 A police team, marksmen and marines attempt to raid a flat in a residential area of The Hague, where Jason Walters and Ismail Akhnikh are holed up. The two suspects throw a hand grenade at police as they enter the building. Three police officers are injured. Police finally arrest them after a 14-hour siege. The same day, Zine Labedine Aouragha, Mohammed el-Bouklaoui, Rachid Bousana, Jermaine Walters, Mohammed el-Morabit, Mohammed Fahmi Boughabe, Nadir Adaraf, Yousef Ettoumi and Zakaria Taybi are arrested.Â
April 2005 Samir Azzouz is acquitted by a court in The Hague. The judge suspects that he was preparing a crime, but it is unclear what crime he intended to carry out. Samir Azzouz is released.
22-06-2005: At the request of the Netherlands, Scotland Yard arrests Rachid Bousana (32) in London on suspicion of being a member of the Hofstad group. The British authorities extradite him to the Netherlands a month later.
06-2005 The fugitive Nouredine el-Fatmi is arrested at Lelylaan Station in Amsterdam, together with two women; his wife and a Dutch convert to Islam.
14-06-2005 The court decides Mohammed Bouyeri should also stand trial for membership of the Hofstad group. He is regarded as being the leader of the alleged terrorist network.
26-07-2005 Mohammed Bouyeri is sentenced to life for the killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
22-09-2005 Zine Labedine Aouragha and Nadir Adaraf are released at the fourth initial hearing in the Hofstad case. The Public Prosecutor's office believes they played a small role in the group and that, consequently, any sentence they may receive will be shorter than the time they have already spent on remand.
18-10-2005 A Rotterdam court sentences the wife of suspected terrorist Nouredine el-Fatmi to nine months in prison, of which three months suspended. She is convicted for illegal possession of weapons. The prosecution cannot prove that she acted with terrorist intent.
10-2005 The national criminal investigation service arrests Samir Azzouz again together with six other alleged members of the Hofstad group. The authorities claim this has thwarted a terrorist attack. Samir Azzouz is suspected of having been trying to acquire weapons and explosives.
18-11-2005 Samir Azzouz is acquitted by the Appeal Court in The Hague. The court finds that the evidence against him is not conclusive. The prosecution considers going to the next level with an appeal to the Netherlands Supreme Court. In the meantime, Samir Azzouz has been charged with other offences.

30-11-2005 At a court in Rotterdam, the prosecution calls for an eight-year sentence against Dutch AIVD intelligence service interpreter Outman ben Amar. He is accused of deliberately passing on secret AIVD information to the Hofstad group.


The Accused


Mohammed Bouyeri (27) is now serving a life sentence for the murder of Theo van Gogh. Life is the longest prison sentence possible in the Netherlands, and â€" as it indicates - it means he will remain in jail for the rest of his natural life. Nevertheless, the Public Prosecutor’s office decided to prosecute Mohammed Bouyeri for his involvement in the Hofstad group as well.

The AIVD intelligence service first got its sights on Mohammed Bouyeri â€" originally from Morocco â€" in 2002. He published radical texts on the Internet using the name Abu Zubair. Initially, the AIVD underestimated his role in the Hofstad network, as it later admitted. In 2003, while being questioned, Nouredine el-Fatmi warned the AIVD about Mohammed Bouyeri, calling him "dangerous". The radicalisation of Mohammed Bouyeri is well documented.


Nouredine el-Fatmi (22) is regarded by the AIVD as one of the main figures in the Hofstad group. He is an old friend of Mohammed Bouyeri. The two grew up together in the Moroccan town of Al Hoceima. Nouredine el-Fatmi was arrested for the first time in Portugal, during the 2004 European Football Championships. He allegedly helped plan an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Jose Barroso, now president of the European Commission. The evidence against him was found to be inconclusive.

A day before the murder of Theo van Gogh on 2 November 2004, Nouredine el-Fatmi fled the Netherlands - using a false passport - and travelled to Morocco. The next time he was seen was in Brussels when he was visited by Samir Azzouz. The AIVD tapped a telephone call between Nouredine el-Fatmi and the Syrian Abu Khaled, thought to be the spiritual mentor of the Hofstad group.

Nouredine el-Fatmi managed to evade the police for a long time and even visited other radical members of the Hofstad group without them noticing. When he was eventually arrested, he was found to be in possession of a loaded machine gun, ammunition and a silencer. A martyr's testament signed by him was found in his apartment.


Jason Walters (19) is a convert to Islam. In December 2003, he travelled to Pakistan with Zakaria Taybi, probably to train for the jihad. The two returned to the Netherlands fairly quickly. Jason Walters studied Arabic at Leiden University and allegedly tried to convince fellow students to convert to radical Islam. On 17 October 2003, he was arrested for the first time, but soon released.

Together with Ismail Akhnikh, he rented an apartment in The Hague, which was bugged by the AIVD. When police raided the building on 10 November 2004, they did not give themselves up easily. The two men allegedly prepared themselves for a martyr's death and threw a hand grenade at the police.

During the 14-hour siege which followed, they played jihad music very loudly. Jason Walters was shot in the shoulder before his arrest. He has been charged with attempted murder, illegal possession of weapons and planning to assassinate two Dutch politicians, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders.


Ismail Akhnikh (21) was arrested by an anti-terrorism unit at the same time as Jason Walters at an apartment in The Hague on 10 November 2004. He has also been charged with attempted murder, violently resisting arrest, illegal possession of weapons and planning to assassinate politicians Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders.


Jermaine Walters (18) is Jason's brother. Jermaine and Jason have a Dutch mother and an American Muslim father, who was once stationed at the Soesterberg airforce base in the Netherlands. Their parents are now divorced.
The brothers converted to Islam and became radicals when they were adults. Their mother fled the family home because she felt mentally abused by her sons.

Jermaine Walters was arrested in Amersfoort after colleagues at the bakery where he worked found notes concerning an assassination attempt on Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

During the siege in The Hague, Jason told his younger brother over the phone "We're going to finish them off", believed to be a reference to the police officers who surrounded the building at the time. Jermaine was upset and went to a mosque in the town of Amersfoort, where he was arrested. He was released later but has since been detained once again.

Jermaine Walters is also suspected of planning an attack on Ayaan Hirsi Ali.


Ahmed Hamdi (27) is said to be responsible for the Hofstad group’s financial transactions. In the summer of 2004, he tried to transfer money to Portugal, where police arrested a number of Hofstad members at the European Football Championships.

Ahmed Hamdi was interrogated in 2003, and apparently told the police that the group had been using the Internet at his home. He was finally arrested at Mohammed Bouyeri’s home on 2 November 2004, the evening of the day on which Theo van Gogh was murdered.


These are the members of the Hofstad group who have radical ideas. There is no evidence that their ideas have driven them to plan acts of terrorism. They are therefore only being prosecuted for membership of a terrorist organisation.


Mohammed Fahmi Boughabe (23) was arrested on 10 November 2004. Little is known about him, other than that he lived in the same house as Mohammed Bouyeri.


Zakaria Taybi (21) traveled to Pakistan with Jason Walters in 2003. The AIVD intelligence service has video footage of Zakaria Taybi â€" together with Ismail Akhnikh and Jason Walters - praising the murder of Theo van Gogh. He was arrested on 10 November 2004.


Rachid Bousana (26) is a childhood friend of Mohammed Bouyeri. He was arrested on 10 November 2004, but is not thought to belong to the Hofstad group's hard core.
However, Mohammed Bouyeri left envelopes behind for Rachid Bousana - containing radical Islamic texts he has written - in case something should happen to him.


Mohammed el-Bouklaoui (21) is believed to have attended the gatherings with the Syrian Abu Khaled. He was arrested on 10 November 2004.


Youssef Ettoumi (25) is a relatively unknown member of the Hofstad group.


Mohammed el-Morabit (24) was arrested at the same time as Nouredine el-Fatmi in Portugal during the European Football Championships in 2004. He was then handed over to the Dutch AIVD intelligence service. After being released, he was re-arrested on 10 November 2004.


Zine Labedine Aouragha was arrested as early as October 2003, but was released due to lack of evidence. In November 2004, he was picked up again. He distanced himself from the Hofstad group in statements to the police.

Zine Labedine Aouragha claims he knew nothing about the Hofstad group's terrorist activities and rejects their extremist beliefs. However, a floppy disk found at his home contains an open letter to Amsterdam alderman Ahmed Aboutaleb.


Nadir Adaraf was a regular visitor at Mohammed Bouyeri´s home. Extremist literature and the telephone number of the main suspect in the Casablanca and Madrid bombings were found at his home.

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