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Emerson Vermaat exclusive report: Dutch court sentences terror suspect Samir Azzouz ("Piranha") to eight years

December 5, 2006


Dutch Court sentences terror suspect Samir Azzouz ("Piranha") to eight years

By Emerson Vermaat

On Friday December 1st, the Rotterdam court sentenced Dutch Moroccan Samir Azzouz to eight years. Samir Azzouz was the leading figure in a terrorist plot to kill Dutch politicians and to blow up the headquarters of the Dutch Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) in Leidschendam the so-called Piranha case.

In my previous article "Samir Azzouz a terrorist in the making or a real terrorist?" (see Militant Islam Monitor, November 23, 2005) I pointed out that Samir Azzouz has been known to Dutch authorities as a (potential) jihadist since early 2003 when he tried to join the Chechen jihad. He was also a key member of the Hofstad Group, a Dutch terrorist network whose leader Mohammed Bouyeri ("Abu Zubair," "Saifu Deen AlMuwahhied") killed Dutch film maker and columnist Theo van Gogh on November 2, 2004. (After the killing of Van Gogh thirteen members of the Hofstad Group were arrested; Azzouz was not among them as he was already in prison on other terrorism charges.) Samir Azzouz is a religious fanatic and, like Bouyeri, a strong admirer of Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.

The first time Samir Azzouz was arrested was in October 2003. The second time was in June 2004. During a house search (in June 2004) police found documents, surveillance sketches of potential targets, a silencer, magazines for a machine gun and all kinds of highly interesting things which justified the suspicion that Azzouz was planning to make a bomb or an explosive device. On April 6, 2005 the Rotterdam court ruled that Azzouz was not guilty of planning a terrorist attack. There was no doubt about his terrorist intentions, the court said, but his plans were not sufficiently concrete yet. So he was acquitted of terrorism charges, but he was sentenced to six months for illegal arms possession (silencer, cartridge clips). As Azzouz had already been in prison for ten months (pre-trial detention), he was released that same day (April 6, 2005). On November 18, 2005 the Appeals Court in The Hague largely agreed with the findings of the Rotterdam Court but said that Azzouz's attempts to make a bomb had been so clumsy and primitive, that they did not pose a real threat. Yet, the Appeals Court did not doubt that the suspect likes to carry out terrorist attacks again, there was no doubt about his terrorist intentions.

So after April 6, 2005 Samir Azzouz was a free man again. He did not waste time and immediately set out to prepare terrorist attacks. Shortly after Azzouz's release, the Central Intelligence Unit (CIE) of the Utrecht police received reliable information according to which Azzouz had taken over the duties of "the Syrian."[i] The Syrian was none other than Mohammed Bassem (Redouan) Al-Issa ("Abu Khaled," "Abu Hassan"), the spiritual leader of the Hofstad Group who had left for Istanbul on the very day Van Gogh had been murdered in Amsterdam. (Al-Issa traveled on a forged Dutch passport given to him by a Dutch-Bosnian man; via Istanbul he traveled to Syria.) The ticket had been booked five days before. Al-Issa probably knew that his close friend Mohammed Bouyeri planned to kill Van Gogh on November 2, 2004. According to the CIE-information Azzouz had several followers and wanted to set an example for others by dying as a martyr. On the basis of this information a new criminal investigation codenamed "Paling" (eel) was started. 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 another prominent member of the Hofstad Group but he had escaped arrest so far. 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 in Brussels (once). El Fatmi had a bag with three guns and Azzouz wanted to see them. He arrived at the house of Bachar and Sarrokh. Azzouz wearing gloves inspects the guns. (His DNA will later be found inside the gloves.)

When El Fatmi was arrested in the metro station of Amsterdam-Lelylaan he was accompanied by Soumaya Sahla, a young and rather noisy Dutch-Moroccan woman who claimed to be his wife (these so-called "Islamic marriages' are not recognized by Dutch law, though). A third woman had driven the couple to Amsterdam. This was Martine van den Oever, a Dutch convert to Islam who was a close friend of Soumaya Sahla's. When El Fatmi was arrested he was in possession of an Agram 2000 submachine gun, fully loaded and ready for use (800 rounds per minute). As the Dutch special anti-terrorist unit arrested El Fatmi, they could just prevent him from grabbing his gun which he carried in a small bag on his shoulder. As this was happening Soumaya Sahla repeatedly cried "Allah Akhbar!"

In the home of Martine van den Oever in The Hague police discovered a farewell letter as well as a letter in coded language with the names of four Dutch politicians: Frans Weisglas (the president of the Second Chamber of parliament), Bas van der Vlies, Jan Marijnissen and Boris Dittrich. The police knew that both Nouriddin El Fatmi and Soumaya Sahla had stayed at Van den Oever's house for at least a week. Van den Oever claimed the coded letter was not hers and it is assumed that it belonged to El Fatmi and Sahla. A few days before her arrest Sahla had a strange telephone conversation with her sister Hanan who worked in a pharmacy in The Hague. Soumaya asked her sister if she knew of any politicians who visited the pharmacy. When Hanan confirmed this Soumaya asked her for their addresses. (Hanan showed no willingness to give this kind of information to her sister.) One of these politicians was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a member of parliament targeted by radical Muslims because of her key role in making the film Submission (on the suppression of women in Islamic cultures). This film was aired on Dutch television at the end of August 2004. The film director was Theo van Gogh who was killed by Mohammed Bouyeri. Bouyeri argued that the Van Gogh/Hirsi Ali film was an insult to Islam and the prophet Mohammed and those who do so deserve the death sentence (in Bouyeri's view).

Two days after the arrests in the Amsterdam-Lelylaan metro station, Samir Azzouz called his friend Ismail Akhnikh, another prominent member of the Hofstad Group. Together with twelve other Hofstad Group members Akhnikh had already spent eight months in custody pending trial (pre-trial detention). Azzouz said that "the earth is very warm." He also said he knows about a story that has not yet appeared in the press. If he were to tell that story to Ismail, the latter would faint immediately. There was another phone call the next day. Akhnikh said he hasn'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."[ii] The judge will later conclude that this is 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 now enough indications that Azzouz was again concocting something serious. At the end of June 2005 it was decided to continue the investigation but under a different name: "Piranha." (It is likely that some of the investigators associated Azzouz with this type of aggressive fish.)

Early August 2004 the Central Intelligence Unit (CIE) of the Amsterdam-Amstelland police received 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," the CIE reported.[iii] Six days later there is CIE-information about a man who has been asked to do surveillance activities near the Fedex building where two Moroccans "who behave like extremist Muslims" are employed. The reliability of this information cannot be established either. "The group does not communicate by phone, they use MSN in an internet cafe in the Willem Nakken Street in Amsterdam."[iv] (This cafe was also a favorate 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. The reliability of this information cannot be established."

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. Mohammed Chentouf's role is less prominent."[v] They plan terrorist attacks on a number of politicians and a government building, possibly before October 31, 2005, the report said. "Those involved are willing conduct a suicide attack, they are likely to resist arrest. One or several persons involved in the network are in possession of guns. In order to execute the attack properly, Samir Azzouz is looking for additional funding, explosives, automatic weapons and guns."

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 needs 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 10 October between five and six o'clock p.m. The code word would be: "I am the man from Barcelona, Spain and Andalusia." The infiltration operation failed because Samir got suspicious.

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

On October 13, 2005, the AIVD reported there was "a video testament (in Arabic, V.) from Samir Azzouz." A CD-rom was added to the report. Samir made this video after October 1, 2005. [vi]He is 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," he says. "We swore to Allah and his messenger that we will die. Surely, we will make you forget the horrors of the holocaust." An obvious announcement he will die a martyr and his family and parents should not grieve. "When I did this, it was because I had the conviction that I followed the right Manhaj (religious method). I saw the prophet in front of me having a smile on his face." Note that Azzouz refers to something that he did in the past it is obvious that this martyrdom 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 tries to imitate the suicide bombers who struck in London.[vii] His grasp of the Arab language is remarkably good, it seems.

Addressing the Dutch government he heaps 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 says the Dutch government "you Crusaders!" will be punished for continually doing injustice and 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?" He mentions what happened in Iraq, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and holds 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 also addresses three members of the Hofstad Group who are in prison: Abu Zubair (Mohammed 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."

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, Mohammed Chentouf, Mohammed Hamdi and Jermaine Walters among them. Chentouf was an interesting guy. He should be seen as a hard-core Hofstad Group member. He was a very good friend of the Syrian Abu Khaled (Al-Issa), the spiritual leader of the Hofstad Group. In 2003, Abu Khaled married a Dutch-Surinamese woman named Chierkoet (this was an Islamic marriage). From a previous marriage she had a daughter who later married Mohammed Chentouf. (Both mother and daughter are Muslim converts.) So the Syrian can be regarded as Chentouf's "father-in-law." Chentouf had first met Abu Khaled in a call center in Schiedam (Rotterdam West), they became friends and Chentouf then introduced him to the Surinamese woman in The Hague. It did not take long for the Syrian to marry her in accordance with Islamic law (as interpreted by Abu Khaled, of course). On November 8, 2004, Chentouf had a phone conversation with Abu Khaled who was then probably in Syria. Chentouf blamed (Dutch) mosques for making statements denouncing the killing of Van Gogh. Al-Issa said: "You mean their statements condemn it." It seems that both were happy that Van Gogh had been killed. They did not at all critize what Bouyeri had done.[viii] We say it again: It is quite likely that Al-Issa knew that Van Gogh would be killed.

Soumaya Sahla was arrested ten months later, early September 2006 that is. She was staying in Chentouf's house at the time. (She was a close friend of his wife.) In a small storage unit in the cellar two bags were found. (The police failed to find these important items in October 2005.) In one of the bags a CZ Skorpion 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 seen as one of the plotters. Early January 2005 he had given a false identity card to Nouriddin El Fatmi.[ix] In one of the court sessions (Piranha Trial) Harhour called El Fatmi his friend. He admired him. He had known him for 3 years, he said.[x]

Mohammed Hamdi and Brahim Harhour were friends. They grew up in the same neighborhood in Amsterdam West. In June 2005, Hamdi spent two nights in Martine van den Oever's house in The Hague. Her house was kind of a meeting place for radical Muslims. Nouriddin El Fatmi and Soumaya Sahla were also staying there at the time. (The couple would be arrested on June 22, 2005.) Hamdi first met El Fatmi about three months earlier, so they already knew each other.[xi] El Fatmi told Hamdi not to enter the bedroom. But he 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 conspiratorial manner. Early August 2005, Azzouz asked Hamdi to open an email account: 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.[xii]

Nouriddin El Fatmi often traveled to Brussels in May/June 2005. He forced Lahbib Bachar and Hanan Sarrokh, a young Dutch Moroccan couple in the Hague, to rent an apartment for him in Brussels. Sarrokh, Bachar, El Fatmi and Sahla often 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. He once pointed his gun the Agram 2000 at her in the Brussels apartment, she said during a court session of the Hofstad Group Trial in December 2005.[xiii] There were also shooting exercises in a forest in Amsterdam. El Fatmi aimed his Agram 2000 at a tree and fired. Bachar and Sarrokh claim that El Fatmi forced them both to pull the trigger as well. They also claim that Soumaya Sahla was there. She, too, they said, aimed at a tree and fired. Sahla, though, denied she was there, and El Fatmi claims neither Sahla nor Hanan Sarrokh were in the forest. They had stayed in the car, he said. But I detected twenty one lies in Sahla's testimony during the Hofstad Trial where she was a witness.[xiv]

On June 21, 2005, Lahbib Bachar, Hanan Sarrokh, Mohammed Chentouf, Mohammed Hamdi and Brahim Harhour traveled to Brussels in Hanan's car. There were two weapons in the Brussels apartment: a CZ Skorpion and a Smith & Wesson pistol, probably belonging to Chentouf. Lahbib and Hanan return to The Hague. The next day Samir Azzouz tells them that his friend "Fouad" (Nouriddin El Fatmi) has just been arrested. Lahbib and Hanan then drive 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 Skorpion were probably hidden in this bag. Hanan and Lahbib spent one night Chentouf's house, probably to discuss what to do next. Hanan and Chentouf's wife are close friends. 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.[xv] Incriminating files were found on Chentouf's and El Fatmi's computers including documents such as "The Mujahideen Explosives Handbook" and "The Mujahedeen Poisons Handbook." What was found in 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."[xvi]

Why did the group go to Brussels? The prosecution claims 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.[xvii] 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 what the prosecutors viewed as a "terrorist organization" (article 141a of the Dutch penal code).

Group members held at least three conspiratorial 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).[xviii] The AIVD suspects that those involved discussed details about a planned terrorist attack.

The "Piranha Trial" started on October 16, 2006. The verdict was pronounced on December 1. The following suspects were on trial (there was no sufficient evidence to prosecute Jermaine Walters):

1. Samir Azzouz, born in Amsterdam on July 27, 1986;

2. Mohammed Chentouf, born in Tilburg on December 13, 1974

(Although he was born in the Netherlands, Chentouf never applied for Dutch citizenship, as a Moroccan he has a Moroccan passport);

3. Mohammed Hamdi, born in Amsterdam on September 29, 1986;

4. Brahim Harhour, born in Amsterdam on June 16, 1983;

5. Nouriddin El Fatmi, born in Midar (Morocco) on August 15, 1982;

6. Soumaya Sahla, born in The Hague on July 5, 1983.

Lahbib Bachar and Hanan Sarrokh were witnesses for the prosecution under the 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 saw it, "their eagerness to betray their Muslim brothers and sisters." The outspoken Soumaya Sahla, for example, threatened Hanan Sarrokh in court when she said: "Do you think that you with your statements can escape the Day of Judgment?" Public prosecutor Alexander van Dam intervened and said: "This is a veiled threat." "Do you believe in our good Lord?" Soumaya asked Sarrokh. Now the presiding judge (Eduard Koning) intervened himself: "I will not allow this question." "Yes, I do (believe in God)," Sarrokh replied nevertheless. "I'll see you on the Day of Judgment!" Sahla said in a threatening tone.[xix]

A very fanatical lady indeed. I once saw Soumaya Sahla wearing a niqab. I just do not understand why young women like these like burkas and niqabs so much. Most of them are not very beautiful. When I was in Algeria (in 1998) and Iran (in 2000) I saw lots of women who were far more beautiful and all of them detested conservative Islamic clothes. I know about women in Algeria who received death threats from bearded fanatics because they were wearing jeans. These women, though, are much more courageous than the silly women here who indulge in the burka and niqab culture.

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 Bachar who 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 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 fanatical men to Belgium and she detested weapons. She also strongly disliked Nouriddin El Fatmi. I heard both of them in court and much of what they said sounded pretty convincing to me. Hanan Sarrokh 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 fanatic saying the Moroccan King and the Dutch Queen Beatrix were unbelievers and that Muslims should not vote. Sharia law should be introduced instead. "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."[xx]

It would take a book to discuss all the details of this highly interesting trial. Was it a terrorist organization or just a group of friends? The court did not agree with the public prosecutor who said that we are dealing with a terrorist organization (article141a Dutch penal code). Yet, there was only one acquittal (Mohammed Hamdi). The convictions were based on 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 court found that all the suspects were interested in the jihadi salafist ideology, a violent and extremist view of Islam. The documents found in their computers were extremely radical.

In its verdict the court quotes 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 tells Akhnikh on 24 June 2004 that the soup is boiling and that he will see something spectacular on TV. Two days later Akhnikh says he hasn't seen anything on TV yet. The court does not believe, as Azzouz's lawyer (Victor Koppe) contended, 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.

Samir Azzouz's video testament was intended to instill fear in 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. (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 victims of Azzouz's 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 says. Referring to two previous court rulings the court said: "Azzouz has been striving to carry out his terrorist ideals and aims for several years now." "His arrest and prosecution prevented a terrorist attack."

Defense lawyer Victor Koppe was upset. In an interview he called the court's verdict "chaotic." He believes his client Samir Azzouz is 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 talked to 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 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). Koppe, of course, does not agreee with such gestures and comments. Yet, it is ludicrous for a defense lawyer to appeal to the sentiments of the public or visitor's gallery the "vox populi" during a court session. The public prosecutor also mentioned Koppe's blooper in the Public Prosecutor's plea. A defense lawyer like Koppe likes to challenge presiding judges if the latter say something he does not like. But judges in the Netherlands cannot so easily be intimidated in the court room.

The court sentenced Samir Azzouz to eight years, Mohammed Chentouf and Nouriddin El Fatmi were sentenced to four years, Soumaya Sahla was sentenced to three years, Mohammed Hamdi was acquitted, Brahim Harhour was sentenced to three months because he had given a false identity card to El Fatmi.

Emerson Vermaat, a law graduate, is an investigative reporter specialized in terrorism and organized crime and author of "Nederlandse Jihad. Het Proces tegen de Hofstadgroep" (Jihad in the Netherlands. The Hofstad Group Trial, Aspekt Publishers, the Netherlands, September 2006). His website is:

[i] Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha" (1), 3 November 2006, p. 4.

[ii] Ibid., p. 5

[iii] Author's files.

[iv] Author's files.

[v] Author's files (AIVD Ambtsbericht).

[vi] Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha" (1), p. 8.

[vii] Author's files. The author also saw the video during one of the court sessions.

[viii] Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha" (1), p. 45.

[ix] Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie, (2), 6 November 2006, p. 24.

[x] Notes made by the author, Piranha Trial, Amsterdam, 1 November 2006.

[xi] Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha" (2), 6 November 2006, p. 30.

[xii] Ibid., p. 35

[xiii] Emerson Vermaat, Nederlandse Jihad. Het Proces Tegen de Hofstadgroep (Soesterberg: Aspekt Publishers, 2006), p. 95.

[xiv] Ibid., p. 159-166.

[xv] Notes made by the author, Piranha Trial, Amsterdam, 25 October 2006.

[xvi] Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha" (1), 3 November 2006, p. 7; Landelijk Parket, Concept Tekst Tenlastelegging, 13 October 2006, Parketnummer 600052-05 (Author's files).

[xvii] Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha" (2), 6 November 2006, p. 10.

[xviii] Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Piranha" (1), 3 November 2006, p. 7.

[xix] Notes made by the author, Piranha Trial, 25 October 2006.

[xx] Ibid.


The cover of Emerson Vermaat's newest book "Jihad in The Netherlands -The trial of the Hofstadgroep'.

An english version will be published next year.

This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at