Hofstad trial continues: Nouredine El Fatmi - A Terrorist and Seducer of Teen -Age Girls by Emerson Vermaat
January 15, 2006
Nouredine El Fatmi A Terrorist and a Seducer of Teen-age Girls
By Emerson Vermaat
Nouredine (or Nouriddin) el Fatmi ("Abu Qaqa," "Fouad") is one of the key members of the so-called Hofstadgroup, a radical Islamic network in the Netherlands. Together with thirteen other members of the Hofstadgroup El Fatmi is currently on trial in Amsterdam.
El Fatmi was born in the poor Moroccan village of Douar Beni Bouyeri Louta, near the town of Midar, on August 15, 1982. Like most members of the Hofstadgroup he is a Berber from the northern Rif mountains. For a long time these Rif mountains were a poor and backward part of Morocco (it still is a problematic region with a lot of crime and a major producer of marihuana and hashish). Many Berbers could not read or write, their knowledge of Arab was (and is) rather poor. In the second part of the last century many of the poor and unemployed Berbers emigrated to Western Europe to find manual employment in factories. They were regarded as temporary cheap labor, and they were expected to return to Morocco as soon as they were no longer needed. Due to competition and economic crisis many of these factories had to close down, laying off huge numbers of foreign workers so-called guestworkers from Morocco, Tunesia, Algeria and Turkey. As they could not find another job due to their poor education and refused to return to Morocco, Algeria or Turkey, many of them successfully applied for benefits. For fear of being accused of "racism" the governments of the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France allowed them to stay. There was no plan to integrate these Muslims from the most backward parts of Turkey and North Africa into the secular Western culture. Far too late governents and local authorities discovered that these often unskilled immigrants were causing serious problems in the big cities. Many of them were involved in crime (especially drugs) and fraud. (Quite a number collected benefits, but bought first class tickets to Morocco twice or three times a year where they built huge houses with swimming pools.) For a long time even to mention this was regarded as "racial prejudice." In his book De Verwarde Natie (A Confused Nation), H.J. Schoo, editor in chief of the newsmagazine Elsevier (and currently a columnist of De Volkskrant) noted that for many years the theme of "ethnic crime" taboo : "You were not supposed to speak or write about it, or else be portrayed as a racist." This attitude paralyzed the debate and prevented many for acting timely.
Not solving the problem was the fact that these migrants invoked their right to family reunion, bringing not only their wives but also other relatives into Europe. To have 5 children or more was not an exception. In 1972, there there were some 55.000 Moroccan and Tukish guestworkers in the Netherlands, by 1966 the number of migrants from these countries had risen to 500,000. There was an even bigger suprise when the second generation of Muslim immigrants from Northern Africa, many of whom were born and raised in European countries, appeared to be causing more problems than their often illiterate parents. Many of these youngsters strongly rejected Western values and not so few turned to petty crime and Islamic radicalism. Only too late did European govenments realize that both first and second generation immigrants from North Africa could very well pose a risk to the internal stability of the receiving countries. The benefit system was undermined, crime was rising in the big cities. The treatment of women in Muslim and North African cultures, for example, clashed totally with Europe's culture of emancipation and freedom. Today, the problem of massive migration from Third World (especially Africa and Latin America) and Muslim countries to the West, poses the greatest threat to our security and stability. The mafias of human trafficking seem to be more powerful than Western governments. What happened in the suburbs of Paris is only a foreplay of what is still to come. In Southern France trains are now vandalized, Western women traveling in these trains are raped by North African youths. Al-Qaeda and radical Islamitic groups are successfully and continuously recruiting frustrated Muslim immigrants in Western countries. Without the presence of disatisfied and angry Moroccan youths in Amsterdam-West, Rotterdam and The Hague, the Hofstadgroup would simply be unthinkable. Indeed, the Hofstadgroup is the result of failed immigration policies and the radicalized Moroccan youth culture in Amsterdam-West. It started with petty crime and street riots in the nineties, it evolved into Holland's most radical network consisting of young men who admire Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and whose dream it is to die as martyrs in a terrorist attack. Their parents often have no sympathy for the extremist ideas of their sons, they are usually more loyal to the Moroccan king (seen by the radicals as an apostate Muslim).
Like many young Moroccans from the Rif mountains Nouredine el Fatmi wanted to migrate to Europe. He was only fifteen when he arrived in Spain. In recent years, Spain in particular faces an unprecedented influx of Moroccan youths and minors. Sending them back to Morocco meets with stiff resistance from the migration lobby. When El Fatmi arrived in Spain nine years ago he quickly found a job as an illegal worker. He often went to Portugal to make more money. He regularly sent money to his mother in Morocco. His father had divorced and married another woman, so Nouredine felt responsible for the rest of the family fairly moderate Muslims they were, though not distancing themselves from the conservative culture one finds in Northern Morocco.
Process of radicalization after arriving in Holland
Somewhere in 1998/99 El Fatmi traveled to the Netherlands. In 2001 he began to visit the radical El-Tawheed Mosque in Amsterdam where he met a number of frustrated young Dutch Moroccans. One of them was Mohammed Bouyeri, the same man who would later kill Dutch filmmaker and columnist Theo van Gogh. This mosque was in fact the birthplace of what would later be known as the Hofstadgroup (later the Mosque's leadership would distance themselves from the group). There is no doubt that Nouredine's process of radicalization began in this very mosque. Jews and Americans were portrayed as evildoers. Nouredine also went to a phone and internet center in Schiedam, another important meeting place of members of the Hofstadgroup. For some time Nouredine, who had no house of his own and no legal status in the Netherlands, lived in the same house as Mohammed Bouyeri. He also befriended Redouan al-Issa ("Abu Khalid"), a failed asylum seeker from Syria, and the leader of the Hofstadgroup. Increasingly, Nouredine el Fatmi began to play an imporant role in the group itself. In October 2003, the Dutch police arrsted five members of the Hofstadgroup, Redouan al-Issa among them. The arrests were based on a report from the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) that the five were planning a terrorist attack in the Netherlands. Bouyeri's house was also searched but he was not arrested. The police disovered a so-called "martyr's testament" signed by Nouredine el Fatmi himself. Its text showed that he was willing to die in a suicide operation:
Don't be said about me. There is only one death. I want to die as a martyr for the sake of Allah. Ask Allah to accept me as a martyr. I recommend that you only obey Allah and respect Him and be afraid of no one (...) Be faithful to what Allah said to the prophet: You are going to die, they are going to die."
Twelve days later the five Hofstadgroup members were released. There was not enough evidence to detain them anylonger. From a strictly legal point of view the decision to release them may have been right, but it would prove to be a fatal error (in France this would never have happened).
In June 2004 El Fatmi and two other members of the Hofstadgroup traveled to Portugal a few days before the European Championship in Oporto. The AIVD believed they planned a terrorist attack, possibly on Portuguese Prime Minister Josι Manuel Barosso the current European Commission President. He and Dutch Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende would both be in Oporto. Nouredine's martyr's testament was a clear indication that he was up to something evil. The AIVD shared their suspicians with the Portuguese authorities who quickly arrested Nouredine el Fatmi and his two friends and subsequently put them on a plane to Amsterdam. Upon arrival in Amsterdam, Nouredine el Fatmi was interrogated by the national criminal police and a woman from the AIVD. He denied he planned a terrorist attack, arguing that his main purpose had been to get a residence permit in Portugal he had previously been told it would be easier to get such a document in that country. He also told his interrogators to watch out for Mohammed Bouyeri. He is more dangerous and radical and he is a "Taqfiri" (someone who believes in the necessity of killing infidels and "apostate" Muslims). The talkative and charming El Fatmi presented himself as a moderate Muslim with no intention to harm anyone. Yes, the martyr's testament was signed by him, but that did not mean a thing. In fact it was Bouyeri's testament, he said. In their headquarters in Leidschendam the AIVD could not believe this assertion. From experience they know that many young Moroccans try to evade justice by denying everything or by laying the blame on others. El Fatmi was no exception. El Fatmi knew that his status in the Netherlands was completely illegal. As he did not have Dutch identity papers, the Dutch authorities could easily deport him to Morocco. For some reason, they decided not to, another fatal error. Even if it was the intention of the AIVD or the police to monitor his phone calls or to put him under surveillance, El Fatmi would often simply disappear to Belgium a breeding ground for North African terrorists and extremists or he stayed with friends in the southern part of the Netherlands who had not yet caught the attention of the AIVD or the police.
The case of Malika: an "Islamic marriage"
While Mohammed Bouyeri showed no interest in women, Nouredine el Fatmi regarded teen-age girls and women as a tool for recruitment and personal pleasure.
Muslim radicals believe in "Islamic marriages." These "marriages", of course, are not recognized by secular Western states. An imam or some sort of self-proclaimed spiritual leader (like Bouyeri or Al-Issa) usually leads the wedding ceremony. In such a bond women have no rights whatsoever, the "husband" can easily send his "wife" often still a girl away and marry another woman. In bed these women or girls are expected to fulfill all the wishes of their so-called husbands. The girls are often fully brainwashed. It basically all comes down to ordinary sexual pleasure and desire on the part of males who feel superior to women (in their view a woman is only half as intelligent as a man). It seems, sex and the Hofstadgroup are not unrelated.
Take a school girl who listens to the name of Malika Chabi (or Shabi), born in Amsterdam on October 16, 1988. This 15-year old girl was introduced to Nouredine el Fatmi ("Fouad") by Mohammed el Morabit, a Dutch Moroccan whom she had first met in July 2004. Initially, El Morabit himself wanted to marry Malika. He asked her parents for permission but they did not like him. In addtion, Malika was too young and she first had to finish school. Malika's brother Hassan warned her that El Morabit was an extremist. So she turned him down but El Morabit called her several times asking her why she did not want him. Malika told him she had heard from others that he was a terrorist. Mohammed told her there was nothing wrong with his ideas and views. Finally, he convinced her to meet his friend Nouredine, and later the three of them met in a car. Nouredine quickly found out that Malika was not interested in El Morabit. ("Do you want to marry him?" he asked. "No," she said.) Fouad showed her two films of suicide bombers. One was the suicide testament of a truckdriver whose truck exploded while crossing a bridge. "I am going to paradise to see 72 virgins,' the truckdriver said. The other was a Palestinian woman who blew herself up. Remarkably, there was a smile on the woman's dead face. "She is happy," Fouad said. "She was a martyr," he added. It was not difficult to influence a young and unstable girl like Malika. She later told the police that she began to believe that these two suicide bombers did indeed die as martyrs. A third film showed violence and killings in Chechnya, with the charismatic Nouredine explaining everything with quotes from the koran. Malika was impressed. She was not used to this way of interpreting the koran but now she felt it was based on the truth. Nouredine told her that Dutch Queen Beatrix was Taghout (a wicked person who should not be obeyed). He also told her that from now on she should adhere to the strict Islamic clothing rules and wear a niqab a long gloomy black dress close to a burqa. El Morabit gave her a number of audiocassettes and documents about Tawheed (Unity"). They wanted her to listen to sermons on the jihad and death to America." Although Malika and her sister Halima confirmed this in their statements to the police, El Morabit denied it when the judge questioned him about it on 9 January 2006.
Nouredine had another girlfriend named Nawal, but he was in a hurry to marry Malika . He was planning a terrrorist attack in the Netherlands and wanted die as a martyr. Marrying a woman just before you die in a suicide operation is one of the absurdities of the extremists' ideology. By October 2004, Malika was fully brainwashed. Her parents, her sister and brothers were extremely worried. Nouredine called Malika on Sunday 2 October 2004 and asked her to marry him. He did not want all the fuss of formally asking the parents for permission and then, like his friend El Morabit, run the risk of being rejected by Malika's family. He wanted Hofstadgroup leader Redouan al Issa (Abu Khaled) to lead the wedding ceremony. Until the marriage, Malika was not to tell her parents anything. On October 4, Nouredine's friend Mohammed el Bousklaoui ("Bousklatti") drove Malika and Nouredine to the house of Mohammed Bouyeri in Amsterdam-West. (One month later, Bouyeri would kill Dutch Theo van Gogh.) Abu Khaled had already left, so his "deputy" Bouyeri led the wedding ceremony. The newly weds spent the night in Bouyeri's small double-room house watching jihahist films about the ritual of decapitation performed by Muslim terrorrists in Iraq and Chechnya. A few days later, about ten members of the Hofstadgroup met in Bouyeri's house. Dressed in her niqab, Malika was ordered to stay in the bedroom. Bouyeri does not like to have women around and women are not supposed to join the company of men when they discuss their religion (there are exceptions to this rule, however). But she hears everything what is being said. Nouredine is leading the Friday prayer and stresses the importance of death, the afterlife, the rewards for the faithful and the punishments for the wicked.
On October 13, 2004, Malika's father Achmed goes to the police to report that his daughter was missing. He said his daughter was unstable and an easy prey for evil men. Halima somehow managed to get in touch with her sister who a agreed to meet her at the Amsterdam Muiderpoort Station. The police was also waiting for the missing girl, so finally Malika was reunited with her family. They now try to win her back. The mariage was completely illegal, Malika's father said. At the end of August 2005, Malika provided the police with interesting details about her former boyfriend Nouredine who played a leading role in "the Hofstadgroup" it took her almost a year to do so. As they were driving in a car, she said in her statement to the police, Nouredine told her that it was his duty to kill people and that she, too, should prepare for martyrdom. "It would a good idea," he said, "to drive a car full of explosives into a shopping center." At the time young Malika was completely under his spell. He was citing koranic verses all the time. Once Malika asked Nouredine about the source of his wisdom. "I got everything the Syrian (Abu Khaled)," he said. In Bouyeri's house Nouredine showed Malika how to cut the throat of the infidel. "Do it slowly, just below the chin and don't let the knife penetrate too deeply," he said. "That will cause more suffering." Producing the sound of gargling the victim dies while suffocating in his own blood. To illustrate what he just told her, he showed her horror films of people dying in this way and making gargling sounds. Nouredine told her how to kill people with a knife. He told her that Bouyeri and El Morabit sometimes went to a farm to steal a sheep to practice slaughtering an animal. Only a few weeks later Mohammed Bouyeri would kill Theo van Gogh using a pistol and a big knife with which he tried to slowly decapitate his dying victim (and then he noticed it was not as easy as he had expected). Such deranged minds like to kill humans the way they kill animals. For them, killing the infildel is a religious ritual.
Nouredine also told Malika that Mohammed Atta "was a good boy." And he told her the purpose of his trip to Portugal had been to get weapons. Apparently, he now felt he could share confidential information with her.
Malika was later questioned by the examining judge (rechter-commissaris). She suddenly refused to confirm her statement to the police. The reason, no doubt, was a threatening letter addressed to her which had been sent to her parent's home. It said:
"I hereby ask you to change or retract your statement (to the police). It is prohibited for Muslims to make such statements. Don't you fear the curse of Allah? This is not a threatening letter but a warning. Retract your statement or change it. May Allah lead you or else break your back."
On 11 October 2005 prosecutor Koos Plooy talked to Malika's father Ahmed, and Mohammed, one of her brothers. Mohammed told him that Malika intended to withdraw her statement to the police. Plooy asked him what Malika meant by withdrawing. Did this mean that her statement to the police was not true? No, it was true, Plooy was told, but Malika was now afraid of the consequences for her and the members of the family. She wanted to be left alone, she said. For almost a year the family was suffering because of Malika's previous contacts with members of the Hofstadgroup. It was clear that Malika was receiving death threats from extremist and criminal elements telling her not to repeat in court what she had told the police. No doubt, some members of her family were also threatened a well known mafia tactic. Don't open your mouth in court or you are dead. She would not be the only one in the Hofstadgroup Trial who was afraid of the people on trial.
On December 5, 2005 Malika appeared before the court in Amssterdam. She was to testify against some members of the Hofstadgroup who were on trial. But she did not say a word. Nouredine el Fatmi was sitting just behind her. She was so terrified that she avoided looking at him. Occasionally, a wicked grin came over Nouredine's face.
The case of Soumaya Sahla: rearranging facts
Three women dressed in a niqab were giggling and chatting as prosecutor Koos Plooy was addressing the court. "What a nasty man," I heard one of the women say. The women were among the public present at the Hofstadgroup Trial in Amsterdam where fourteen Muslim extremists from the Netherlands are currently on trial (most of them are Dutch Moroccans). The women arrived at the court house to show their solidarity with Hofstadgroup member Mohammed Fahmi Boughaba and another woman named Soumaya Sahla. Soumaya, just 17 years old, was not on trial this time (she had been convicted in a previous court case), she was now on the witness stand and therefore under oath. She was one of the girlfriends of 23-year old Nouredine el Fatmi, a small and bearded fanatic. Nouredine and Soumaya were arrested in the metro station of Amsterdam-Lelylaan on June 22, 2005. Nouredine was carrying a machine gun an Achram 2000 in his bag. His weapon was fully loaded and ready for use. El Fatmi, who does not have a residence permit in the Netherlands, likes to seduce young Dutch Moroccan women and then force them into an "Islamic marriage." Soumaya was already legally married to a Dutch Moroccan man in The Hague, but that did not deter El Fatmi who seeks new recruits all the time for his extremist "Takfiri" version of Islam. Soumaya and El Fatmi met in the Spring of 2005, and it did not take long for both to be married in an "Islamic" way.
Somewhere in April or May 2005, Nouredine el Fatmi met Lahbib Bachar and Hanan Sarok, a young and happy Dutch Moroccan couple living in The Hague they we not fanatics but moderate Muslims. Initially, he was friendly, later he evolved into a real intruder, demanding that they no longer watch "Satanic" television programs and listen to the radio. He even forced them to sell their furniture to a relative. There was no doubt that Nouredine was interested in seducing the pretty and slim Hanan, but her loyalty to her husband proved stronger than anything else. He then started to intimidate the happy young couple. He and Soumaya took Lahbib and Hanan to a forest in Amsterdam, opened his bag and suddenly produced his Achram 2000 machine gun. He aimed at a tree, pulled the trigger and fired twice. He then gave the automatic weapon to Soumaya who also pulled the trigger. El Fatmi turned to Lahbib and told him to do the same. Lahbib noticed that Nouredine was serious about it. He took the machine gun, and, aiming at another tree, he fired, too. He then gave the weapon back to Nouredine who asked Hanan to try the weapon. She was terrified and refused. So far, she had never touched a weapon of any kind. But Nouredine and Lahbib insisted. "I was afraid that he would shoot me dead, if I didn't do it," Hanan later testified in court, sobbing repeatedly. Lahbib also felt completely intimidated. Both Hanan and Lahbib were quite relieved when their dangerous young Moroccan friend Nouredine expressed the wish to go to Brussels to find an apartment for himself. Having no residence permit himself he forced Hanan and Lahbib to sign the contract and rent the apartment for him. Hoping Nouredine would stay in Brussels and leave them alone, they obliged. But he did not stay there all the time. He forced them to accompany him to his trips to Holland and back to Brussels, he was often accompanied by Soumaya. In court, Nouredine challenged Hanan asking: "Why are you afraid of me?" Sobbing again, Hanan said: "Because of your extremist ideology." She then told the court: "On one occasion, he really threatened me in Belgium. I was in the hallway of the apartment in Brussels when he pointed a gun at me." As Hanan was saying this, the judge noticed that Nouredine was grinning. "Why are you grinning?" the judge asked. "She is a liar," he said. "But why were you grinning?" the judge asked once more. "I have the right to remain silent,'" Nouredine said.
Lahbib Bachar told the court in Amsterdam he had also been threatened by El Fatmi. He was told once: "If you refuse to do what I want, your hands will be tied and you'll have a bullet in your head." Lahbib had seen at least three weapons in the Brussels apartment: a machine gun and a silencer, a baby uzi and a pistol as well as boxes filled with ammunition. "I have the right to remain silent," Nouredine's girlfriend Soumaya Sahla said when prosecutor Plooy questioned her about the shooting excersises in the Amsterdam forest. But in private telephone conversations with relatives, she used to be much more talkative. In June 2005, the Dutch Security and Intelligence Service (AIVD) tapped a telephone conversation between Soumaya and her brother. "I am walking with a 9 mm Achram 2000 machine gun," she said. "Believe me, everything will be reversed now," she told her brother. Both in her own court case and later in the Hofstadgroup Trial as a witness (and consequently under oath), she claimed that when she talked to her brother about weapons, she was just making fun. She had seen the weapon on a website when she looked over Nouredine's shoulder in an internet cafe in Amsterdam. She further claimed she never saw Nouredine carrying a gun or weapon. Nobody in the courtroom accused her of committing perjury. And in interrogations with the police she said: "He is not the kind of man to carry a gun." One can only wonder how some people are able to lie so bluntly in and outside a court room and still get away with it. I detected at least 22 lies in her testimony. She really is an expert in rearranging the facts. And she was not the only one to do so.
Lying, by the way, is an integral part of the extremists' view and strategy. As a Muslim you are not obliged to tell the truth once an infidel is challenging you. Courts in Western countries are seen as Taghout, or unholy institutions. The extremists abide by their own laws only the so-called sharia law which is applied by special sharia courts. In some Western countries there are shadow sharia courts and sharia judges (they usually are extremist Muslim clerics,). In Britain, for example, there is "The Sharia Court of the UK," and I happen to know one of its "judges." Yet, there is some inconsistancy in the behavior of these extremists. They always seem to find the best lawyers for themselves, if they are convicted they always seek a revision by the appeals court, indeed, they are often quite eager to sue others with whom they disagree. They seem to know their rights in Western societies quite well. If the laws of the infidels are helpful in promoting the rule of Islam, why not make use of them?
A few days before Soumaya Sahla and Nouredine el Fatmi were arrested in Amsterdam, Soumaya had long telephone conversation with her sister Hanan who was working in a pharmacy in The Hague, the city where the most of the ministries and the houses of parliament are located. Everything they said was monitored by the Dutch security service. Soumaya tried to extract information from her sister about politicians visiting the pharmacy. Some of these politicians were also targeted by the Hofstadgroup and Soumaya asked Hanan to provide her with information on the private addresses of these politicians. Hanan did not oblige, however. In court, Soumaya claimed: "I was talking nonsense." Her lame excuse was that her sister Hanan wanted her to go back to her parents. She, Soumaya, pretended to agree with the way her sister was talking. Another obvious lie. There is no doubt that Soumaya and Nouredine el Fatmi were planning something evil. At the time of their arrest, El Fatmi's Achram 2000 machine gun was fully loaded and ready for use. He only needed to pull the trigger. He could have killed tens of people in the metro station or in the departure hall of the nearby Schiphol airport. Or, he could have found out the private addresses of politicians targeted by the Hofstadgroup. After the arrest of other leading members of the Hofstadgroup, El Fatmi began to see himself as the new "emir" or the leader. As we noted above, he had already written a martyr's testament in 2003. And he met another condition for becoming a martyr: he married Soumaya only two months ago. (as we noted above, suicide terrorists usually marry shortly before they carry out their hideous plans.) In court, Nouredine el Fatmi repeatedly invoked his right to remain silent. By arresting him plans for a terrorist attack in the Netherlands were frustrated. Apart from finding a machine gun in his bag, the police discovered that he was carrying two additional items in the same bag: a photo of Osama bin Laden and a so-called mediaplayer full of speeches of Bin Laden and horror films on defenseless people being decapitated by evil men who shouted "Allahu Akhbar!" ("God is great!").
Emerson Vermaat, De Hofstadgroep. Portret van de radicaal-islamitisch netwerk (Soesterberg: Aspekt, 2005).
Jutta Chorus and Ahmed Olgun, In Godsnaam. Het jaar van Theo van Gogh (Amsterdam: Contact, 2005). An excellent study.
H.J. Schoo, De verwarde natie. Dwarse notities over immigratie (Amsterdam: Prometheus, 2000), p. 124.
(Notes by the author Trial Hofstad Group, Amsterdam, 5 December 2005 (Malika Chabi).
Notes by the auhor, Trial Hofstad Group, Amsterdam, 16 December 2005 (Nouredine el Fatmi, Hanan Sarok and Lahbib Bachar; quotes on role of Soumaya Sahla).
Notes by author, Trial Hofstadgroep, Amsterdam, 9 January 2006 (Mohammed El Morabit).
Notes by the author, Trial Hofstad Group, Amsterdam, 23 December 2005 (Soumaya Sahla).
Emerson Vermaat is author of a Dutch book on The Hofstad Group (De Hofstadgroep, Aspekt Publishers, Soesterberg, the Netherlands, 2005). He is currently covering the Hofstad group Trial in Amsterdam. His website is: Emersonvermaat.com.