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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Targeting Dutch Politicians: The Case of the "Piranha Terrorists"

Targeting Dutch Politicians: The Case of the "Piranha Terrorists"

October 15, 2008


October 13, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Dutch defense lawyer Bart Nooitgedagt was trembling with rage after the Appeals Court convicted four members of the so-called "Piranha group," a terrorist network in the Netherlands. (There were five convictions but conviction number five was not for membership of a "terrorist organization," but just for illegal arms possession.) "This is a political verdict," Nooitgedagt told the press. The same hotheaded lawyer who did not hesitate to introduce politics into the courtroom by comparing American president George Bush to Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering, now accuses the Appeals Court of political bias. "I wish that all those who are responsible for this outcome will have sleepless nights forever," he said. Two other defense layyers, Victor Koppe en Michael Pestman, were so upset that they did not even talk to the press but left the courthouse immediately.

Koppe and Pestman belong to the leftist Amsterdam law firm "Böhler Franken Koppe Wijngaarden." Britta Böhler, the law firm"s founder strongly sympathized with a Kurdish terrorist leader named Abdullah Öcalan. And in an interview with Dutch newspaper "NRC Handelsblad" she said: "I considered Ulrike Meinhof and Gudrun Ensslin to be heroes." 1

Ulkrike Meinhof and Gudrun Ensslin were leading members of the "Red Army Faction" (RAF) or "Baader-Meinhof gang," a notorious Marxist terrorist organization Germany in the 1970s and early 1980s. (A Dutch lawyer named Pieter Bakker Schut could have been a source of inspiration for her: he openly sympathized with the Baader Meinhof gang, acting as defense attorney for them. 2)

Athough Böhler emphasizes she does not condone violence or terrorism, she was the defense attorney of Volkert van der Graaf, the extremist animal rights activist who killed Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn on May 6, 2002.

Böhler"s law firm associate Victor Koppe is also the defense attorney for Nuon Chea, one of the former Khmer Rouge leaders. The Cambodian Khmer Rouge equalled former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in killing innocent civilians: some 1.7 million Cambodian civilians were killed during their (Communist) rule of terror between 1975-1979. I still remember a shocking article in the French newspaper "Le Monde" – I believe it was back in 1976 – which for the first time – revealed large scale Khmer Rouge atrocities in Cambodia. I also remember how some liberal intellectuals – even some liberal Church leaders – initially believed these horror stories could not be true. The crimes of America and West – "neo-colonialism," "exploitation," etc. – were much worse, one of them lamely claimed.

Today, Dutch defense attorney Victor Koppe is a defense attorney of one of those who were responsible for the genocide in Cambodia. Talking about Nuon Chea, he says: "To me he appears to be a charming ("innemende"), friendly old man. Also the way he is talking." 3 So was, incidentally, Augusto Pinochet in the final years of this life! Even a brutal dictator, a war criminal or a perpetrator of genocide can evolve into a sympathetic old man pretending innocence. Many a Nazi criminal in post-war Germany was never prosecuted simply because ordinary people were not aware that their "sympathetic neighbor" and "smiling old man" was a war criminal between 1939 and 1945. Adolf Eichmann"s cover in Argentina was successful simply because he managed to convince many others that there was absolutely nothing wrong with him. Just a normal and sympathetic family man, an immigrant from Germany.

The problem with Dutch defense attorneys like Pieter Bakker Schut (who died in 2007), Bart Nooitgedagt, Britta Böhler and Victor Koppe is that they seem to identify themselves too closely with the ideology and personality of their clients. Afshin Ellian, a brilliant Dutch professor of law and columnist, once referred to this kind of defense attorneys as "ideologues in legal robes." They justify the "resistance" in Palestine, Iraq or Afghanistan. "Lawyers begin to radicalize, too," Ellian observed in 2006. 4 "Must defense lawyers adopt the viewpoints of their clients? Rarely does a professional defense lawyer make a mistake like that."

Most of the "ideologues in legal robes" hate the Dutch state, especially successful prosecutors and the Dutch Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD). Most terrorist suspects in the Netherlands are arrested after an initial report by the AIVD. Their prosecution is often partly based on usually correct AIVD findings. But defense lawyers invariably contest these findings and reports saying they cannot checked. I remember a court session in February 2005 in which Michael Pestman (from the Böhler Koppe law firm) denounced what he called "AIVD gossip." And he added: "It was Cicero who said: "Moreover, I advise that Cartage must be destroyed." Today, I would say: "Moreover, it is my view that the AIVD must be abolished."" 5 (Pestman erred in attributing this quote to Cicero. It was Roman statesman and "elder" Marcus Porcius Cato who once said so.) This is what it is really about, at least in Pestman"s view. Not only must AIVD reports on terror suspects not be allowed to play any role in court proceedings, no, the AIVD itself must be abolished. This is, of course, also what most terror suspects themselves want. It is not the accused in the courtroom who are the terrorists, the real terrorists are the state, the security service, the police, etc. Böhler believes that new anti-terrorism legislation in the Netherlands poses a threat to the rule of law. Indeed, it is partially the impact of US policies on the Netherlands which is responslible for this "represssive policy." 6Those who are on trial are victims of a "witchhunt." 7

These lawyers leave no stone unturned to discredit able prosecutors, the police and the AIVD. This also happened during the sessions of the Appeals Court dealing with the so-called "Piranha case."

On trial were the following terror suspects (all of them were Dutch Moroccans or Moroccans):

1. Samir Azzouz born in Amsterdam on July 26, 1986;
2. Nouriddin el Fatmi, born in Midar (Morocco) on August 15, 1985;
3. Mohamed Chentouf, born in Tilburg (Netherlands), on December 13, 1974;<
4. Mohamed Hamdi, born in Amsterdam on September 29, 1986;
5. Soumaya Sahla, born in The Hague on July 5, 1983.

Samir Azzouz: the leader of the "Piranha network"

Samir Azzouz was regarded by the prosecution as the leader of the "Piranha network." He has been known to Dutch authorities as a (potential) jihadist since early 2003 when he tried to join the Chechen jihad. He is a religious fanatic who strongly admires Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi (Al-Qaeda in Iraq). In an earlier court case, prosecutors and the "Pieter Baan Center" in Rotterdam warned that Samir was "a walking time-bomb": once free he would start to make prepapations for terrorist attacks again.

This is precisely what happened. In April 2005, the Rotterdam Court only found him guilty of illegal arms possession Azzouz"s lawyer Victor Koppe had portrayed his client as an innocent young man who had no intention of making a bomb. As the jail sentence of just a few months exceeded the time spent in pretrial detention, Azzouz walked out of jail on April 6, 2005. He immediately looked for new opportunities to stage a terrorist attack.

The Central Intelligence Unit (CIE) of the Utrecht police received reliable information according to which Azzouz had taken over the duties of "the Syrian" (Bassem Al-Issa). 8 Al-Issa was a Syrian illegal immigrant who played a leading role in the so-called "Hofstad Group," a terrorist network which was largely rounded up in November 2004. According to CIE information Azzouz had several followers and wanted to set an example for others by dying as a martyr. The police were alarmed and started a new criminal investigation codenamed "Paling" (eel).

This investigation would soon yield results when Nouriddin el Fatmi was arrested in Amsterdam on June 22, 2005. El Fatmi, a Moroccan illegal immigrant, was a prominent member of the Hofstad Group who had escaped arrest in November 2004. In May and June 2005, he often traveled to an apartment in Brussels. El Fatmi was hiding in the house of Lahbib Bachar and Hanan Sarrokh, a young Dutch Moroccan couple in The Hague. El Fatmi pressed them to rent an apartment for him in Brussels where he felt safer. Azzouz visited El Fatmi both in The Hague and Brussels.

El Fatmi had a bag with three guns and Azzouz wanted to see these weapons. Azzouz arrived at the house of Bachar and Sarrokh and inspected the guns. As he did so he was wearing gloves; his DNA would later be found inside the gloves.

When El Fatmi was arrested in the metro station of Amsterdam-Lelylaan on June 22, 2005, he was accompanied by Soumaya Sahla, his so-called Islamic wife. Martine van den Oever, a Dutch convert to Islam, had driven El Fatmi and Sahla to Amsterdam. When El Fatmi was arrested he was in possession of an Agram 2000 submachine gun, fully loaded and ready for use.

Two days later Samir Azzouz called his friend Ismail Akhnikh. Together with twelve other Hofstad Group members, Akhnikh had already spent eight months in custody pending trial (pretrial detention). Azzouz said that "the earth is very warm." He also said he knew about a story that had not yet appeared in the press. If he were to tell that story to Ismail, the latter would faint immediately. There was another interesting phone call the next day. Akhnikh said he hadn"t seen anything on TV yet. Azzouz said: "No, not very soon. There will be soup on television, the soup is arriving, it is still boiling." 9

The Rotterdam lower court judge concluded on December 1, 2006, that this was coded language referring to a terrorist attack. The AIVD reported on July 28, 2005, that "Samir Azzouz is now actively involved in terrorist activities." There were enough indications now that Azzouz was once again concocting something serious. At the end of June 2005 it was decided to continue the police investigation but under a different name: "Piranha." (It is possible that some of the investigators associated Azzouz with this kind of aggressive fish.)

It was early August 2005 that the Central Intelligence Unit (CIE) of the Amsterdam-Amstelland police received alarming information about a group young Moroccans from Amsterdam West, Samir Azzouz among them. "At Schiphol Airport they want to shoot down an El Al airliner. This will happen in August," the CIE reported to the National Criminal Investigation Service ("Nationale Recherche"). "The reliability of this information cannot be established," CIE reported.10 Six days later, there was CIE-information about a man who had been asked by someone to do surveillance activities near the Fedex building where two Moroccans "who behave like extremist Muslims" are employed: "The group does not communicate by phone, they use MSN in an internet cafe in the Willem Nakken Street in Amsterdam." 11

The same cafe happened to be a favorite meeting place of some Hofstad Group members. On August 11, 2005, the CIE Amsterdam-Amstelland reported: "Moroccans from Amsterdam West and The Hague must hand over part of their criminal earnings to a group that plans an attack on an El Al plane. These petty criminals are friends of Samir Azzouz"s. The reliability of this information cannot be established." 12

On October 7, 2005, the AIVD reported "that a network of radical Muslims in the Netherlands is now concretely involved in preparations for a terrorist attack in the Netherlands. Samir Azzouz plays a key role. Mohamed Chentouf"s role is less prominent." 13 They plan terrorist attacks on a number of politicians and a government building, possibly before October 31, 2005, the AIVD report said. "Those involved are willing to conduct a suicide attack, they are likely to resist arrest. One or several persons involved in the network possess guns. In order to execute the attack properly, Samir Azzouz is looking for additional funding, explosives, automatic weapons and guns." 14

The AIVD then tried to infiltrate the network. In a covert operation an AIVD-agent contacted Samir Azzouz pretending he could deliver the weapons needed for the job. Azzouz indicated he needed 10 kalashnikovs, two pistols with silencers and five explosive belts working with batteries. They agreed that Azzouz would be called about the delivery of the weapons on Monday October 10, between five and six o"clock p.m. The code word would be: "I am the man from Barcelona and Andalusia." The infiltration operation failed because Samir got suspicious.

On October 11, 2005, the AIVD reported that Samir Azzouz played a key role in the planning and execution of terrorist attacks. There was reliable information that Mohamed Chentouf, a Moroccan living in the Hague, also played a key role. The AIVD further reported that Jermaine Walters, the brother of Hofstad Group member Jason Walters, also belonged to the network. He was in close touch with Samir Azzouz, their conversations were conspirational, they used coded words.

Azzouz"s martyrdom"s testament

On October 13, 2005, the AIVD reported there was "a video testament from Samir Azzouz." A CD-rom was added to the report. Samir made this video after October 1, 2005. 15 He was dressed in traditional Islamic clothes, a "CZ Skorpion" submachine gun ("Baby Uzi") is clearly visible in the background. At times Azzouz becomes very emotional:

"Today we must be prepared for death. We swore to Allah and his messenger that we will die. Surely, we will make you forget the horrors of the holocaust... When I did this, it was because I had the conviction that I followed the right Manhaj (=religious method, V.). I saw the prophet in front of me having a smile on his face." 16

An obvious announcement he would die a martyr and his family and parents should not grieve. Also note that Azzouz referred to something that he did in the past – it is clear that this martyrdom"s video was to be made public after he had died in a suicide attack. The reference to the horrors of the holocaust implies it will be a major attack, there will be many deaths. In the video Samir tried to imitate the suicide bombers who struck in London. 17 His grasp of the Arab language is remarkably good.

Addressing the Dutch government he heaped praise on the top leadership of Al-Qaeda:

"Sheikh Osama bin Laden, may Allah protect him, warned you many times. Sheikh Mujahid Ayman Al-Zawahiri also warned you many times. And our beloved Sheikh Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, may Allah protect him, did warn you once."

Samir said the Dutch government ("you crusaders!") will be punished for continually doing injustice and for their support of Bush:

"Between you and us there will only be the language of the sword until you leave Muslims alone and choose the path of peace... Did Sheikh Osama bin Laden, may Allah protect him, attack America or the Netherlands?"

Azzouz mentioned what happened in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib and held the people of the Netherlands responsible for this.

"We will revenge every Muslim who died as he was defending the unity of Allah... You will be regarded soldiers (fighters) because you chose this government. Your property and blood are legitimate to us. We will spill your blood here in the same way as you have stolen the blood of Muslim citizens in Iraq..."

It is interesting to note that Samir Azzouz also addressed three members of the Hofstad Group who are in prison: "Abu Zubair" (Mohamed Bouyeri), "the American" (Jason Walters) and "Suhaib" (Ismail Akhnikh):

"I tell you: I love you for the sake of Allah... You expect from Allah what they do not not. Do not despair and do not be sad. You will gain the upperhand if you are believing."

Mohamed Chentouf and Ahmed Hamdi

After the discovery of this video testament, the AIVD concluded that a terrorist attack was imminent. On Friday October 14, 2005, seven people were arrested for possible involvement in a terrorist plot, Samir Azzouz, Mohamed Chentouf, Mohamed Hamdi and Jermaine Walters among them.

Chentouf was an interesting guy. He was a very good friend of Bassem Al-Issa"s, the spiritual leader of the Hofstad Group. Al-Issa "married" (="Islamic marriage") the Dutch-Surinamese woman Usha Chierkoet in 2003. From a previous marriage she had a daughter named Sara who later married Mohamed Chentouf. (Both mother and daughter are Muslim converts.) Al-Issa, the Syrian, was often referred to as Chentouf"s "father-in-law." After Chentouf met Al-Issa in the Internet Phone Center in Schiedam, they quickly became close friends. Chentouf introduced Al-Issa to the Surinamese woman (Chierkoet) in The Hague. It did not take long for the Syrian to "marry" her.

On November 8, 2004, Chentouf had a phone conversation with Al-Issa who had gone to back Syria – via Turkey – on the very day Hofstad Group leader Mohamed Bouyeri killed Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam (November 2). Chentouf blamed (Dutch) mosques for making statements renouncing the killing of Van Gogh. Al-Issa said: "You mean their statements condemn it." It seemed that both were happy that van Gogh had been killed by Bouyeri. 18

Soumaya Sahla was arrested in September 2006, almost one year after the others had been arrested. She was staying in Chentouf"s house at the time. (She was a close friend of his wife Sara.) Two bags were found in a small storage unit in the cellar. (The police failed to find these important items in October 2005.) In one of the bags a "CZ Scorpion" submachine gun and a "Smith & Wesson" pistol were found. The other bag contained personal items belonging to Soumaya Sahla. Chentouf could now also be charged with illegal arms possession and Sahla was seen as an accomplice.

Brahim Harhour, a Dutch Moroccan from Amsterdam West was arrested on November 8, 2005. He was also regarded as one of the plotters. Early January 2005, he had given a false identity card to Nouriddin El Fatmi. 19 In one of the court sessions of the Piranha Trial, Harhour called El Fatmi his friend. He admired him. He had known him for 3 years, he said. 20

Mohamed Hamdi and Brahim Harhour were friends. They grew up in the same neighborhood in Amsterdam West. In June 2005, Hamdi spent two nights at Martine van den Oever"s house in The Hague. Her house was a kind of meeting place for radical Muslims. Nouriddin el Fatmi and Soumaya Sahla were also staying there at the time. Hamdi first met el Fatmi about three months earlier, so they already knew each other. 21 El Fatmi told Hamdi not to enter the bedroom. But Hamdi had left some personal items in that room and wanted to get them back. So he entered the bedroom and then, all of a sudden, he saw a weapon on the bed (this was the Agram 2000 submachine gun). He wanted to check if it was an imitation weapon so he took it in his hands to take a closer look. He also saw bullets and a box of bullets. During the Piranha Trial Hamdi claimed he was so frightened that he decided to leave the house.

Hamdi and Azzouz communicated with each other in a secretive and conspirational manner. Early August 2005, Azzouz asked Hamdi to open an email account: [email protected] Azzouz was aware that he was being followed by the police and the AIVD. Azzouz and Hamdi used the email address to make appointments, they met each other at least four times since the email account was opened. 22

Nouriddin el Fatmi

Nouriddin El Fatmi often traveled to the apartment Brussels in May/June 2005. Hanan Sarrokh, Lahbib Bachar, Nouriddin el Fatmi and Soumaya Sahla usually drove in Hanan"s car to Brussels, sometimes El Fatmi took the train. El Fatmi always took his Agram 2000 submachine gun with him when he traveled to Brussels (and back to Holland when he returned). It was hidden in a small bag. Hanan Sarrokh later claimed El Fatmi threatened to kill her if she did not do what he wanted. There were also shooting exercises in a forest in Amsterdam. El Fatmi aimed his Agram 2000 at a tree and fired. Bachar and Sarrokh claimed that El Fatmi forced them both to pull the trigger as well. They also claimed that Soumaya Sahla was there. She, too, they said, aimed at a tree and fired. Sahla denied she was there, and El Fatmi claimed neither Soumaya Sahla nor Hanan Sarrokh were in the forest. Both had stayed in the car, he stated at the Piranha Trial in Rotterdam (lower court).

On June 21, 2005, Lahbib Bachar, Hanan Sarrokh, Mohamed Chentouf, Mohamed Hamdi and Brahim Harhour traveled to Brussels in Hanan"s car. There were two weapons in the Brussels apartment: a CZ Scorpion (Baby Uzi) and a Smith & Wesson pistol, probably belonging to El Fatmi. When El Fatmi was in Brussels himself he would also take his Agram 2000 into the apartment. Those who were in Brussels problably saw and knew about these weapons. Lahbib and Hanan returned to The Hague. The next day Samir Azzouz informed them that his friend "Fouad" (Nouriddin el Fatmi) had just been arrested. Lahbib and Hanan then drove again to Brussels to collect Chentouf, Hamdi and Harhour. They stayed two nights in Brussels, then the whole group returned to the Netherlands. Chentouf carried a bag with him and both the Smith & Wesson and the CZ Scorpion were probably hidden in the same bag.

Although they lived nearby, Hanan and Lahbib spent one night in Chentouf"s apartment, probably to discuss what to do next. In court, Hanan and Lahbib claimed they were afraid of Chentouf"s radicalism. They feared revenge, the others might think that they (Lahbib and Hanan) were behind El Fatmi"s arrest. Hanan said that Chentouf ordered her husband Lahbib not to talk to the police. Hanan also said Chentouf"s wife was not as radical as her husband. 23

Incriminating documents were found on Chentouf"s and El Fatmi"s computers including documents such as "The Mujahideen Explosives Handbook" and "The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook." What was found on Samir Azzouz"s computer was equally revealing: film footage showing beheadings, a detailed instruction film about how to make suicide belts, instructions about transforming a mobile phone into a remote control system. 24

Why did this group of five people go to Brussels? The prosecution claimed the trip should be seen in the context of recruitment efforts. The idea to go to Brussels came from Nouriddin el Fatmi but he could not join them on that day as the car was already fully packed. 25 This is quite likely. Both El Fatmi and Azzouz were planning terrorist attacks and they needed people they could really trust. They probably did not have doubts about Chentouf"s loyalty but they may not have been so sure about the others. So the others had to be further indoctrinated into jihadist thinking and suicide missions. The prosecution believes that Azzouz, El Fatmi and Chentouf were the core members of the "terrorist organization" (article 141a of the Dutch penal code).

Group members held at least three conspirational meetings after July 2005: on August 24 (Azzouz, Hamdi and Chentouf), on September 7 (Azzouz and A. Bakaja) and on October 1 (Azzouz, Walters and Ouaddi). 26 The AIVD suspected that those who were involved in these meetings discussed details about a planned terrorist attack.

The Piranha Trial (lower Rotterdam Court) started on October 16, 2006. The verdict was pronounced on December 1, 2006.

Soumaya Sahla intimidates key witness Hanan Sarrokh

Lahbib Bachar and Hanan Sarrokh were witnesses for the prosecution and they were under the special witness protection program. There were fears that they would be killed because of their willingness to testify against these terrorist suspects – or, as the suspects themselves problably saw it, "because of their eagerness to betray their Muslim brothers and sisters." In one of the sessions Mohamed Chentouf derisively called Hanan Sarrokh and Lahbib Bachar "the two dogs." "He is a beast!" Chentouf shouted in the courtroom. 27 Speaking in a contemptuous voice the outspoken and fanatical Soumaya Sahla openly intimidated Hanan Sarrokh:

Soumaya Sahla: "Do you think you can escape the Day of Judgment when you are making these statements?"

Prosecutor Alexander van Dam: "This is a veiled threat."

Sahla: "Do you believe in our good Lord?"

Presiding judge Eduard Koning: "I will not allow this question." Hanan Sarrokh: "Yes, I do (believe in God)."

Sahla: "I"ll see you on the Day of Judgment!" 28

During the Piranha Trial Soumaya suddenly announced that she and Nouriddin el Fatmi had split up, they were no longer "married." 29 She had taken the initiative herself, she said. Obviously, she no longer wanted to be "married" to a man who would be in prison for a number of years and who would be extradited to Morocco after his release. There was also another reason for the "divorce." El Fatmi had never told Soumaya about his previous "marriage" or relationship with Malika Chaabi. She found this out during the Hofstad Trial when Malika Chaabi had to testify in court.

Defense lawyers tried to discredit Lahbib Bachar and Hanan Sarrokh, the two key prosecution witnesses. They pointed out that Lahbib Bachar was not the moderate Muslim he claimed to be. They discovered a video made in 2003 showing how Bachar praises Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 attackers. He also carried a Samurai sword. The video was shown in the courtroom. A witness for the defense, Bachar"s Tunisian friend Rushdie Banani, said he was also a radical at the time. These views were not uncommon among Moroccan youths, he said.

The fact that Bachar was a radical Muslim back in 2003 does not mean very much. How else would he have won the trust of people like Samir Azzouz and Nouriddin El Fatmi? It is quite possible that Bachar changed his mind in 2005 and wanted to break away from the group. His wife Hanan did not like driving young Muslim fanatics to Belgium and she detested weapons. She strongly disliked Nouriddin el Fatmi. I heard Hanan in court and much of what she said sounded pretty convincing to me.

Hanan told the court that Soumaya Sahla gave lectures in the mosque. At first, these lectures were good and interesting. But later Sahla turned into a real fanatic saying the Moroccan King and the Dutch Queen Beatrix were unbelievers and that Muslims should not vote. Sharia law should be introduced instead. Hanan"s description of Soumaya"s radicalization process sounds credible and convincing:

"Her tone changed, she became aggressive, making angry gestures with her middle finger. It was quite a change in her. It reminded me of the way Hitler made his speeches. It looked quite aggressive." 30

Soumaya detested Hanan who knew a lot about her. Hanan Sarrokh was one of the very few witnesses who was able to stand up to her in the courtroom. Yet, El Fatmi"s defense lawyer Michael Pestman pointed out that Hanan"s statements to the police (KLPD) were not credible. He said he had listened to the recording of Hanan"s fifth interrogation and discovered that the police occasionally suggested to her what to say. Moreover, during this interrogation she adjusted her statement after she had been confronted with the statements made by her husband Lahbib Bachar. 31

Soumaya Sahla"s "pharmacy conversation"

Soumaya later claimed she did not know anything about Nouriddin el Fatmi"s Agram 2000 machine gun. But in October 2005, a court in Rotterdam sentenced her to nine months in prison saying that her statements had not been credible. The court concluded that Soumaya implicitly agreed with the possession of that gun, the ammunition and the silencer. 32 The court quoted from a tapped telephone conversation between Soumaya and her brother (June 2005). Soumaya said: "...9 millimeter... I am walking with an Agram 2000." Soumaya"s claim that she was horsing around with her brother was not regarded as credible as she also told her brother that she was not funny about this. 33

Soumaya also contended in court that she never saw Nouriddin el Fatmi"s gun. She said she could remember the gun"s name because she and El Fatmi were in an internet cafe and then she glanced over El Fatmi"s shoulder when he was looking at an illustration of the weapon displayed on a computer screen. She added that she looked only casually at it, because she did not want her "husband" to notice that she was looking at the illustration, too. The court considered it unlikely "that the suspect (=Soumaya Sahla) after casually looking at an internet page both remembered the name (Agram 2000) and the calliber (9 mm) of the weapon. The suspect obviously was aware of this fact since she referred in the telephone conversation with her brother to 9 millimeter in relation to the Agram 2000." 34 The court said there was sufficient evidence that Soumaya not only was aware of the presence of the Agram 2000 submachine gun and accompanying ammunition but also that she had, to some extend at least, power of disposal of it. The court again referred to Soumaya"s telephone conversation with her brother on June 19, 2005, when she said she was walking with "an Agram 2000, 9 mm." Just three days later, she accompanied her "husband" (Nouriddin el Fatmi) who then possessed an Agram 2000 submachine gun and accompanying ammunition. 35

The court further referred to an incriminating letter written by two other detainees to whom Soumaya had confided the information that she knew about the loaded submachnie gun. The court rejected arguments presented by defense lawyer Yassir Özdemir who claimed that those fellow detainees had a personal interest in writing this letter and that the media played an important role as well. The court said that the letter of these two fellow detainees contained information which could only have come from the suspect (Soumaya Sahla) herself. 36

The police and the AIVD were also prepared for something terrible, especially after an alarming phone conversation Soumaya had with her sister Hanan on Monday June 20, 2005. Hanan was employed as pharmacist"s assistant in a pharmacy in The Hague. When Soumaya called her, Hanan thought her sister was abroad, in fact Soumaya was calling from a city in the Netherlands. Hanan said that the people from the As Soennah Mosque think that Soumaya "is going to do very strange things, and that her phone calls could be tapped for that reason." Soumaya replied that Allah is great and added: "The Koran is our weapon." Hanan told Soumaya she was with the wrong people. Soumaya said she was married now and then the conversation took an interesting turn:

Soumaya: "By the way who are the people visiting your pharmacy?"

Hanan: "Oh, that"s something you don"t want to know."

Soumaya: "What do you mean when you say: "You don"t want to know?""

Hanan: "Who visits the pharmacy?"

Soumaya: "Yes."

Hanan: "Just ordinary people, it is busy."

Soumaya: "But who are they?"

Hanan: "A lot of people. Only ordinary Al-Kuffar (=unbelievers), of course."

Soumaya: "Who for example? Isn"t it so that you see famous people who visit the pharmacy?"

Hanan: "Yes."

Soumaya: "Tell me who they are."

Hanan: "A very famous woman."

Soumaya: "Who then?"

Hanan: "She is brown and she is a fucking bitch (kankerwijf)."

Soumaya (talking in Berber): "Swear by Allah!"

Hanan: "I"ve seen her and I was scared to death. Then I was thinking that..." Soumaya: "Enough, enough, just stay there."

Hanan: "Okay."

Soumaya: "Swear by Allah. Where did you see her?"

Hanan: "Stay there? To whom do you say that?"

Soumaya: "What?"

Hanan: "To whom do you say: Stay there?"

Soumaya: "No, I told you: Stop there, that"s what I mean. Where did you see her? Where did you see her?"

Hanan: "She is not going to have a baby? She bought something to do a pregnancy test."

Soumaya: "Where did you see her?"

Hanan: "I saw her."

Soumaya: "Where?"

Hanan: "When famous people come to us, we talk about it. Like that woman from "Friends for Life" or Mr. van Aartsen (important Dutch politician at the time, V.), that kind of people you know."

Soumaya: "Go on, tell me all the names of those people who come to you."

Hanan: "For example, ordinary people who are on TV."

Soumaya: "Who?"

Hanan: "A soccer player, but I don"t know him."

Soumaya: "No, I mean those who work in how do you call it, who work with that black woman."

Hanan: "That black woman... But she visits (the pharmacy) alone, you see. Those others stay outside. She enters alone." ("Those others" probably refers to the bodyguards, V.)

Soumaya:: "Oh yes? Praise be to God."

Soumaya: "Tell me. Tell me everything."

Hanan: "You must stop."

Soumaya: "Who visits (the pharmacy)? Is Remkes (Dutch Interior Minister at the time, V.) also among them?"

Hanan: "No, he is not."

Soumaya: "Who else then? Not van Aartsen?"

Hanan: "Remkes? Oh, that old man, no, he is not."

Soumaya: "Go on."

Hanan: "That"s it, only those people."

Soumaya: "Van Aartsen?"

Hanan: "Yes."

Soumaya: "Go on."

Hanan: "Why do you keep asking this?"

Soumaya: "Tell me, I want to know."

Hanan: "That"s it. You make me feel afraid."

Soumaya: "Tell me about everybody who comes there, I will then tell you something else."

Hanan: "I told you already who comes there."

Soumaya: "You said, didn"t you, that many people come there who work in that chamber, the Second Chamber (=parliament)?"

Hanan: "Yes, but I don"t know their names."

Soumaya: "What?"

Hanan: "You know that young man from the LPF?" (A political party, V.)

Soumaya: "Does he come there?"

Hanan: "That young man with the hare"s teeth." (This refers to member of parliament Joost Eerdmans, V.)

Soumaya: "Praise be to God. Do they take medicine?"

Hanan: "Yes."

Soumaya: "Do you have their addresses?"

Hanan: "Eh... I don"t know their names, so you must drop by."

Soumaya: "Yes. But do you have van Aartsen"s address?"

Hanan: "Yes."

Soumaya: "I will call you again and then you"ll give me his address, please."

Hanan: "Why?"

Soumaya: "Just for nothing."

Hanan: "What do want with that?"

Soumaya: "Will you give it to me or not?"

Hanan: "For God"s sake."

Soumaya: "For God"s sake."

Hanan: "There is nothing you can do with it, Soumaya. You can really do nothing."

Soumaya: "No, you just have to give it to me. I... I swear by God. You know what I mean. We want to confront him with the call to Islam, make Dawa, God willing."

Hanan: "God willing."

Soumaya: "And that black one? You don"t know where she went?"

Hanan: "No, she may be fucking someone. The mongol."

Soumaya: "What?"

Hanan: "She may be fucking someone." (Both are laughing).

Soumaya: "Fucking bitch! Does she always (often?) visit the pharmacy?" Hanan: "No, no, that"s not the case."

Soumaya: "Once in awhile?"

Hanan: "Yes."

Soumaya: "You don"t know where she lives?"

Hanan: "No." 37

Soumaya clearly tried to find out the names of important politicians who were occasionally visiting Hanan"s pharmacy (van Aartsen, Eerdmans, Hirsi Ali, all of whom have been rather critical of Muslim extremism). She wanted Hanan to give her the addresses and was interested in the kind of medicine they take. When Hanan asked her why she needed van Aartsen"s address, Soumaya told her that she wanted to confront him with the "call (dawa) to Islam" (so that he would become a Muslim).

All these questions, of course, are very important for someone involved in terrorism. Soumaya was particularly interested in "that black woman." Four days later, when Hanan was questioned about this by the police, she admitted that the term "black woman" referred to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, at that time a vocal member of parliament targeted by members of the Hofstad Group who wanted to kill her. 38

Hanan also told the police that what she said about Hirsi Ali was a lie. She told this story because she knew Soumaya was interested in Hirsi Ali. That Hanan was just inventing a story about Hirsi Ali is not very likely. Hanan did not like Hirsi Ali either, as she was referring to "a fucking bitch." Quite remarkable for someone who is employed as a pharmacist assistant and who is supposed not to talk about people visiting the phamacy or about the kind of medication they require.

And the conversation between the two was not over yet. Soumaya told Hanan that she was looking for something, but that she could not discuss this on the phone. Hanan must think about what Soumaya told her about "the things she had in the pharmacy which cannot be sold but which you can give to someone." This refers to information about politicians visiting the pharmacy. Soumaya also told Hanan that there is no Islamic country in this world, therefore they – the group – must stand up and fight for the sake of Allah. Hanan said that every group has a name and asked what the name of this group was. "The Hofstad Group," Soumaya said. 39

This long conversation had been monitored by the security and intelligence service (AIVD) and the police. They assumed that Soumaya and her friend Nouriddin el Fatmi were planning to kill Dutch politicians. Both were watched 24 hours a day and were were arrested in Amsterdam on June 22, 2005.

Prosecutors Alexander van Dam and B. den Hartigh said that de group around Samir Azzouz was a terrorist organization (article141a Dutch penal code) and that its members were involved in planning terrorist crimes. 40 The defense lawyers argued, however, that we were dealing with just a loose group of friends, nothing else.

The lower court verdict

In its verdict on December 1, 2006, the court ruled that there was no evidence that the group was a terrorist organization. The group"s members were not sufficiently knit together, their meetings were few and irregular. 41 Yet, the court found that all the suspects were interested in the jihadi Salafist ideology, a violent and extremist view of Islam. The documents found on their computers were extremely radical. They were willing to act accordingly, and: "Each of the suspects was moving – to quote Mohamed Chentouf – dangerously close to a group of persons, they were involved in dangerous and prohibited patterns of behavior." 42

The court quoted from a monitored telephone conversation between Samir Azzouz and his friend Ismail Akhnikh, a prominent member of the Hofstad Group who was convicted in March 2006. Azzouz told Akhnikh on June 24, 2004 that the soup was boiling and that he would see something spectacular on TV. Two days later Akhnikh said he had not seen anything on TV yet. The court did not believe that this was just an innocent conversation. "This clearly refers to a forthcomnig terrorist attack," presiding judge Eduard Koning said as he read out the verdict. 43

Samir Azzouz"s "video testament" was intended to instill fear into the population – an essential element of a terrorist crime, the court ruled. During one of the court sessions Azzouz said it had never been his intention to inform the public about it. He lamely explained he had just played a game, he just wanted enjoy himself, he had made lots of similar statements on other tapes, just to see how it looked like. 44 (These other tapes and videos were never found, though). The court was not convinced that this was the case. The video testament referred to many deaths, all of them being victims of Azzouz"s intended martyrdom operation. In the past Azzouz has shown interest in targeting the headquarters of the AIVD as well as Dutch politicians. "This message is a terrorist threat to the democratic institutions in the Netherlands," the verdict said. 45 Referring to two previous court rulings on Samir Azzouz the court said:

"Azzouz has been striving to carry out his terrorist ideals and aims for several years now... He has continued to follow the path of terrorist ideals and goals. The crimes the suspect intends are aimed at striking at the heart of Dutch democracy and instilling fear into the Dutch population by planning attacks on Dutch politicians and bomb attacks on buildings, especially the AIVD building. Attacks that could lead to many deaths." 46

The court noted that Samir Azzouz was one of the webmasters of the website "Leeuwen van Tawhied" (Lions of Tawheed) or "Poldermujahideen." (A video from "Leeuwen van Tawheed/Poldermujahideen" was shown in the courtroom; the logo is an opened Koran, with two crossed swords on which two orange Dutch lions are speared.) A dozing big bellied Theo van Gogh ("Kill the leader of disbelief!") is shown as well as Dutch politicians Geert Wilders ("We have sharpened our swords, you dog!"), Gerrit Zalm (Finance Minister), Rita Verdonk (Immigration and Integation Minister), Piet Hein Donner (Justice Minister) and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A song is heard saying: "The group of infidels have assembled to attack us, but they cannot... Ours is the honor and victory." 47

The court sentenced Samir Azzouz to eight years. He was convicted as accessory to the following crimes with the intent to make preparations for and encourage murder, with terrorist intent, deliberately causing an explosion, with terrorist intent and possessing objects intended to facilitate the crime. He was also convicted as an accessory to the crime of illegally possessing a firearm. 48

Azzouz"s defense lawyer Victor Koppe was upset. In an interview he called the court"s verdict "chaotic." He claimed his client Samir Azzouz was innocent. During one of the court sessions I heard the same defense lawyer make a very unusual and unprecedented remark about the people in the visitor"s gallery. He had had a conversation with them and they seemed to agree with him, he said. The people in the visitor"s gallery were journalists, relatives, friends and sympathizers of the suspects, women wearing Islamic niqabs, etc. The brother of one of the suspects once made the throat cutting gesture. Defense witness Rushdie Banani, who was also present in the visitor"s gallery several times, even used the word "fucking Jew" ("kankerjood" in Dutch). 49 Koppe, of course, does not agree with such gestures and comments. Yet, it is ludicrous for any defense lawyer to appeal to the sentiments in the public or visitor"s gallery – the "vox populi" – during a court session. The public prosecutor also mentioned Koppe"s blooper in his final speech.

The court did follow the arguments presented by defense lawyer Michael Pestman who claimed that Hanan Sarrokh and Lahbib Bachar were not credible witnessses. The court said that Hanan had indeed adjusted her own (fifth) statement after she had been confronted with her husband"s statement. 50 This may be true, but certainly not everything that Hanan told the police was based on information from her husband. She did not change the whole contents of her statement. In fact, a lot of things which she told the police have been confirmed by evidence from other sources. There were weapons in the Brussels apartment, other suspects confirmed this during the Piranha Trial. And it is quite likely that El Fatmi did point a gun at Hanan Sarrokh and intimidated her when both of them were in the Brussels apartment. The court ignored the open and veiled threats that Hanan and Lahbib received from Mohamed Chentouf and Soumaya Sahla.

The court ruled, however, that both Chentouf and Sahla, were accessories to the crimes with the intent to make preparations for and encourage murder with terrorist intent, deliberately causing an explosion, with terrorist intent, possessing objects intended to facilitate the crime, planning to execute the crime.

They were also accessories to the crime of illegally possessing a firearm. Although Soumaya Sahla played a less prominent role, she did try to obtain personal information about politicians. There was also a previous conviction. The court sentenced her to three years in prison, Chentouf was sentenced to four. 51

Nouriddin el Fatmi was convicted as an accessory to the same crimes. In addition, he was convicted for recruiting someone (a Dutch convert to Islam) for the armed struggle. He was sentenced to four years in prison. Both El Fatmi and Azzouz were seen as key figures in the group. 52 Ibrahim Harhour did not play a major role, he only provided a false identity card to Nouriddin el Fatmi. Together with El Fatmi he went to the city hall, gave an official a pass photo from El Fatmi and got an identity card. "This is a very serrious crime," the court said. "In addition, the suspect may knowingly or unknowingly have facilitated possible terrorrist activities." Yet, the court sentenced Harhour to only three months in prison. 53 Finally, Mohamed Hamdi was acquitted of all charges. 54

The convictions were based on the tougher anti-terrorist laws that came into force in August 2004. Recruitment for the armed struggle (such as the jihad), conspiracy to and preparing for manslaughter with terrorist intent (Article 288a Dutch penal code), is now punishable. This means somebody can be charged with a terrorist offense when his or her activities are still in the preparatory phase. Also punishable is incitement to hatred.

The case before the Appeals Court

During the sessions of the Appeals Court defense lawyers again tried to discredit key witness like Hanan Sarrokh and Lahbib Bachar ("they exxagerated systematically"). 55 They also tried to discredit Koos Plooy, one the most successful prosecutors in the Netherlands. Plooy played a key role in winning important cases against Dutch terrorists from the Hofstad Group as well as leading figures in the Dutch underworld.

Plooy had been asked by the defense to testify before the Appeals Court. Michael Pestman and Victor Koppe, the defense attorneys of Nouriddin el Fatmi and Samir Azzouz, pointed to the records ("proces-verbaal") of a police interrogation of Hanan Sahla, Soumaya"s sister. Hanan had been interrogated by the police shortly after Soumaya"s arrest. Defense attorneys later discovered that Hanan"s initial statement to the police had been altered. It was in her original statement that Hanan had specifically referred to the role of the Dutch Security and Intelligence Service (AIVD). There were, she said, "contacts" between the AIVD and members of the Sahla family. Police investigator Oosterbos told the examening judge in May 2008 that these portions of the text had been removed because such details could "endanger her (Hanan"s) security as well as the security of her family." Oosterbos thought it was possible that Hanan herself had asked to remove these portions of the text.

Police investigator Wibbelink told the examening judge on May 29, 2008, that one of the deleted text portions was about Hanan saying that her sister Karima had told her that Soumaya planned to kill ("een aanslag wilde plegen op") Hirsi Ali (a Dutch politician and former Muslim known for her opposition to Islam). Wibbelink said he informed Plooy and both agreed that these "incriminating portions" of Hanan"s statement should be removed. 56 According to Wibbelink, it was Soumaya"s defense attorney Nooitgedagt who then suggested that he (Wibbelink) had had been ordered by the prosecution ("justitie") to remove these text portions. Wibbelink subsequently denied that anyone in the justice department or the authorities ("overheid") or the AIVD had ordered him to do so. 57

Plooy was heard by the Appeals Court on August 19, 2008. He said that there would be "security risks" if the contacts between the Sahla family and the AVID would become known. This could lead to "reprisals" against the family. Plooy said he had not actually seen those texts when this matter was being discussed nor had he himself ordered to remove some text portions. He said he had read the initial and altered statements when the decision was made to dismiss her case. "In my view, Hanan"s statements are not part of the Hofstad case." Plooy assumed then that the altered text would no longer be part of Hanan"s records (file) and said he had not taken into consideration that these texts would ever play a role in another court case. 58

In their defense plea Koppe and Pestman pointed out that Plooy had referred to the adjusted version of Hanan"s interrogation in a court hearing in chambers on July 5, 2005. 59

Defense attoneys further suggested that Plooy had deliberately tried to conceil Hanan"s original statement so that the court would not take notice of it. Nooitgedagt said in his defense plea: The adjusted version ("geschoonde verklaring") was added to the files or records ("dossier"), the non-adjusted version was "not to be shown to the defense." 60 Nooitgedagt, Koppe and Pestman argued that Plooy and the AIVD had a vested interest in conceiling the crucial role of the AIVD. Consequently, the tapped phone conversation between Soumaya and Hanan Sahla should not be allowed as evidence in court, Nooitgedagt said. According to Nooitgedagt, it was the AIVD which instructed Soumaya"s mother to report to the police that her daughter was missing. (Soumaya was on the run together with her friend Nouriddin el Fatmi.) It was also the AIVD, Nooitgedagt continued, which instructed

Hanan what to say on the phone when she talked to Soumaya. It was the AIVD"s intention to elicit certain answers from Soumaya.

Koppe and Pestman even suggested that Plooy had probably committed perjury when he said that he could not remember that Hanan"s statement had played a role in another investigation. 61 Bart Nooitgedagt gave a number of press interviews suggesting the same. In a subsequent court session prosecutor Derk Kuipers showed dismay over defense lawyers who are being interviewed by the media accusing a "respected prosecutor" (Plooy) of perjury before there is any conclusive evidence that this was indeed the case. 62 In a later session Kuipers pointed out that Hanan Sahla herself had approved and signed the altered version of her statement. 63

At the request of the defense Plooy was heard again by the Appeals Court on September 9, 2008. Plooy said his memory had failed him, he had made an error. It had not been his intention to mislead anyone. After the Hofstad Terrorism Trial (2005/2006) Plooy had been extremely busy. As a prosecutor he had been involved in a major court case against the Dutch criminal Willem Holleeder and his associates (2007). Three years have passed since that court hearing in chambers. Plooy said he had received the documents shortly before the hearing and that there had been no detailed discussion about their contents or about what exactly must be part of the records. 64

Prosecutor Derk Kuipers repeated on September 12, 2008, that Hanan Sahla had approved and signed "every page" of both the original and the adjusted statement, "thus indicating that these were her own statements and that she considered them to be true statements." 65

Kuipers further stressed that the AIVD had not tried to influence the outconme of the trial or exerted undue pressure on prosecutors or the police. The AIVD reports ("ambtsberichten") on the video testament of Samir Azzouz and the "pharmacy conversation" were not in contravention of any legal rule, and therefore, this information can be used in court. 66

In its verdict the Appeals Court largely went along with the arguments presented by the prosecution – very much to the dismay of defense lawyers. 67 The Appeals Court admitted that Plooy had made an error but there was no evidence that he had deliberately done so in order to deceive the court. There was no need, therefore to further investigate the matter of possible perjury by Mr. Plooy.

The AIVD had played a legitimate role, the court said. About the adjusted statements of Hanan Sahla the Appeals Court said that she had been aware of the text alterations. There is no evidence that she objected to these alterations. Thus, the Appeals Court distanced itself from the arguments presented by defense attorney Nooitgedagt. He claimed that the police had exerted undue pressure on Hanan to accept these alterations, otherwise they would not let her go. 68 But he failed to substantiate this claim. (It is quite posible that police investigator Oosterbos was right when he claimed that it was probably Hanan herself who had asked to remove these text portions.)

The Appeals Court did distance itself from the lower court verdict in saying that the Piranha group was a "terrorist organization" (article 141a of the Dutch penal code). In the case of one of the suspects, Mohamed Hamdi, however, there was no conclusive evidence that he had really participated in this terrorist organization. Hamdi, who had previously been acquitted by the lower court, now got 3 months for illegal arms possession. His lawyer Robert Maanicus was not happy and decided to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The other four received much higher sentences because they had participated in a terrorist plot to kill Dutch politicians. One of the suspects (Samir Azzouz) had even made a "suicide testament." Azzouz was sentenced to nine years in jail. Soumaya Sahla was sentenced to four years, Nouriddin el Fatmi was sentenced to eight years and Mohamed Chentouf got six and a half years. Chentouf did not show up at any of the court sessions. There was not even a defense plea on his behalf by defense attorney Yasser Özdemir who was often conspicuously absent in courtroom. Obviously, the Appeals Court did not appreciate this.

The Appeals Court emphasized that none of the suspects had shown any regret over what they had done. They advocated violence against those whose lifestyle they rejected. They tried to trace the addresses of politicians with a view to killing them and instilling fear into the population. One of them, Samir Azzouz, had made a "video testament," saying, inter alia: "Between us and you, only the language of the sword shall prevail."


1. NRC Handelsblad, October 15, 2007, p. 2 ("Linkse politiek met "juridische vlam""). "Ulkrike Meinhof en Gudrun Ensslin beschouwde ik als heroes. Het waren voor mij mensen die niet zo maar bommen gooiden, maar dat deden vanuit een bepaalde intellectuele achtergrond." Böhler originally is from Germany.

2. Jacco Pekelder, Sympathie voor de RAF. De Rote Armee Fraktion in Nederland 1970-1980 (Amsterdam: Mets & Schilt, 2007), p. 117, 118, 134-153, 217—230; De Volkskrant, October 16, 2007, p. 3 ("Raf-pleiter ging over op drugscriminelen").

3. De Volkskrant, June 2, 2008, p. 4 ("Khmer-advocaat: geen gewetensnood"). "Hij komt over als een innemende, vriendelijke oude man. Ook in zijn manier van praten." "Iedereen zegt wel dat er 1,7 miljoen doden zijn, maar voor ons is dat een vraag."

4. Afshin Ellian, Allah weet het niet beter (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 2008), p. 157-1959. A collection of columns and essays. Ellian"s column "De ideologen in toga" was first published in "NRC Handelsblad" on February 14, 2006. "Moeten advocaten zich associëren met de politieke standpunten van hun cliënten? Een vakjurist maakt zelden zo"n fout."

5. Author"s notes, Pretrial Session, The Hague Court (Hofstad Case), Rotterdam, February 7, 2005. Pestman: "Overigens ben ik van mening dat de AIVD moet worden afgeschaft." Marcus Porcius Cato said in Latin: "Celerum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam."

6. Britta Böhler, Crisis in de rechtstaat. Spraakmakende zaken, verborgen processen (Amsterdam: Uitgeverij De Arbeiderspers, 2004), p. 242-255, 275.

7. NRC Handelsblad, January 8, 2006 (Koppe en Böhler: "Dit proces is een klassieke heksenjacht").

8. Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha," part 1, November 3, 2006, p. 4.

9. Ibid., p. 5.

10. Author"s file on Samir Azzouz.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid. (AIVD Ambtsbericht).

14. Ibid.

15. Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha," part 1, November 3, 2006 p. 8.

16. Author"s file on Samir Azzouz. The author saw the CD-rom during one of the court sessions. See also: Nova (Dutch TV), November 4, 2005 and the comments made by Siem Eikelenboom.

17. Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha," part 1, November 3, 2006 p. 8.

18. Ibid., p. 45.

19. Ibid,, part 2, November 6, 2006, p. 24.

20. Author"s notes, Piranha Trial, Amsterdam, November 1, 2006.

21. Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha," part 2, 6 November 2006, p. 30.

22. Ibid., p. 35.

23. Author"s notes, Piranha Trial, Amsterdam, October 25, 2006.

24. Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha," part 1, November 3, 2006, p. 7; Landelijk Parket, Concept Tekst Tenlastelegging, 13 October 2006, Parketnummer 600052-05 (author"s file on Samir Azzouz).

25. Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha," part 2, November 6, 2006, p. 10.

26. Ibid., part 1, November 3, 2006, p. 7.

27. Author"s notes, Piranha Trial, October 31, 2006.

28. Ibid., October 25, 2006. This court session took place in Amsterdam-Osdorp and it was late in the afternoon.

29. Ibid., November 1, 2006.

30. Ibid., November 11, 2006.

31. Author"s notes, Piranha Trial, Amsterdam, October 24, 2006.

32. Vonnis van de Rechtbank te Rotterdam, Meervoudige Kamer voor Strafzaken, in de Zaak tegen: Soumaya Sahla, October 18, 2005, LJN: AU4531, Rechtbank Rotterdam, 10/600046-05, p. 4, 5.

33. Ibid., p. 3.

34. Ibid.

35. Ibid., p. 4

. 36. Ibid.

37. AIVD, Ambtsbericht over onder meer Tweede Kamerlid Van Aartsen, June 23, 2005, No. 0000000/01, Bijlage 20 (author"s file on Soumaya Sahla) and: Landelijk Parket, Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha," part 1, November 3, 2006, p. 60, 61.

38. Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha," part 1, November 3, 2006, p. 61 (police interrogation of Hanan Sahla on June 24, 2005).

39. AIVD, Ambtsbericht over onder meer Tweede Kamerlid Van Aartsen, No. 0000000/01, June 23, 2005.

40. Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha," part 1, November 3, 2006, p. 19-21.

41. Rechtbank Rotterdam, Meervoudige Kamer voor Strafzaken, Uitspraak Piranha-zaak, December 1, 2006, LJN: AZ3589, p. 17, 18.

42. Ibid., p. 21.

43. Ibid., p. 21, 22.

44. Author"s notes, Piranha Trial, Amsterdam, October 31, 2006.

45.Rechtbank Rotterdam, Meervoudige Kamer voor Strafzaken, Uitspraak Piranha-zaak, December 1, 2006, LJN: AZ3589, p. 22.

46. Ibid., p. 21, 22, 31.

47. Rechtbank Rotterdam, Meervoudige Kamer voor Strafzaken, Uitspraak Piranha-zaak, December 1, 2006, LJN: AZ3589, p. 23. I saw this video several times myself.

48. Ibid., p. 28, 29, 37.

49. Based on author"s notes during the Piranha Trial.

50. Rechtbank Rotterdam, Meervoudige Kamer voor Strafzaken, Uitspraak Piranha-zaak, December 1, 2006, LJN: AZ3589, p. 14, 15.

51. Ibid., p. 27, 29, 30, 36, 38, 40.

52. Ibid., p. 20, 29-31, 39.

53. Ibid., p. 33, 40.

54. Ibid., p. 24, 39.

55. Pleitaantekeningen van V. Koppe en M. Pestman in de zaak tegen Samir Azzouz en Nouriddin el Fatmi, Gerechtshof te "s-Gravenhage, zitting d.d. (session of) September 4, 2008, p. 77.

56. Ressortsparket te "s-Gravenhage, Repliek van de Advocaat-Gernaal in de Zaak Piranha I, Ter terechtzitting van het Gerechtshof te "s-Gravenhage zitting houdend (session) te Amsterdam-Osdorp, September 12, 2008, p. 38, 39. (Quoted hereafter as: "Repliek Piranha I.")

57. Ibid., p. 41. "Ik moet desgevraagd daar nog bij zeggen dat ik niet alleen van justitie hiertoe geen opdracht heb gekregen maar van niemand van de overheid, ook niet van de AIVD."

58. Ibid., p. 39, 40; author"s notes Appeals Court session, August 19, 2008.

59. Pleitaantekeningen van V. Koppe en M. Pestman in de zaak tegen Samir Azzouz en Nouriddin el Fatmi, Gerechtshof te "s-Gravenhage, zitting d.d. (session) September 4, 2008, p. 46.

60. Author"s notes Piranha Trial, Appeals Court, September 5, 2008 (defense plea Bart Nooitgedagt).

61. Pleitaantekeningen van V. Koppe en M. Pestman in de zaak tegen Samir Azzouz en Nouriddin el Fatmi, Gerechtshof te "s-Gravenhage, session of September 4, 2008, p. 46, 47; author"s notes.

62. Author"s notes Piranha Trial, Appeals Court, August 26, 2008.

63. Author"s notes Piranha Trial, Appeals Court, September 1, 2008.

64. Repliek Piranha I, September 12, 2008, p. 44. "Hoewel ik als zaaksofficier verantwoordelijk ben en blijf voor de opmaak van processen-verbaal, gaat het in de praktijk zo, dat de politie een dergelijk verbaal opmaakt en dat aan de officier doet toekomen. Het is niet zo, dat de politie met de officier contact opneemt om per pagina te bespreken wat er wel wel en wat er niet in het proces-verbaal moet komen."

65. Ibid., p. 24.

66. Ibid., p. 11, 17,

18. 67. Gerechtshof "s-Gravenhage, Hoger Beroep Piranha Zaak, 2200734907, October 2, 2008, LJN: BF3987; author"s notes Appeals Court verdict, October 2, 2008.

68. Author"s notes Piranha Trial, Appeals Court, September 5, 2008 (defense plea Bart Nooitgedagt).

Emerson Vermaat is a Dutch investigative reporter specialized in terrorism and crime. His website is: www.emersonvermaat.com.

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