This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3243
November 5, 2007
The Radicalization of young Moroccans and Turks in the Netherlands
By Emerson Vermaat
What European investigators are quite worried about today is the dangerous mixture of crime and Islamist terrorism. Young second generation and third generation immigrants from Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia or the Middle East who are involved in petty crime and appear to be susceptible to the call of fundamentalist Islam and then become jihadists. In a nice and peaceful country like Holland, young Moroccans involved in petty crime, street robberies and violence against the police turn to Islamist radicalism or even join terrorist networks.
A good example is Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch Moroccan born and raised in Amsterdam. Before he killed filmmaker and columnist Theo van Gogh in November 2004, Bouyeri already had a criminal record. In 1997, he spat in a policeman's face, in 2000 he beat a visitor of a student's café with his fists, in 2001 he stuck a knife into a policeman's neck. Fortunately, it was not a fatal wound. Bouyeri was convicted to only six months and was free after three months. Punishments are really mild in the Netherlands. He now became dependent on social security benefists. Bouyeri began to radicalize in the course of 2002. At the end of 2000, a group of young Moroccan friends began to meet in his house. This group would later evolve into a dangerous terrorist network, better known as the Hofstad Group. Bouyeri played a leading role. It was in the summer of 2004 that he translated an essay from Ibn Taymiyya, a 14th century Islamic scholar. "Those who revile (insult) the prophet Mohammed, must be killed," Taymiyya wrote. Bouyeri agreed. On August 31, 2004, Dutch VPRO Television aired the film Submission, made by Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a member of Parliament. This film challenged the discrimination of women in Islamic cultures showing Koranic verses on a half-naked woman's body. These verses justified wife beating; the woman's body was bruised as a result of those beatings. Bouyeri and some of his close friends decided to kill Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Theo van Gogh because they had, in their view, offended Islam. When Bouyeri killed Theo van Gogh on November 2, 2004, he left a threat letter on Van Gogh's dead body saying the next one to be killed would be Hirsi Ali.[1 Another letter from Bouyeri was found later. In this letter he expressed the wish to die as a martyr in a subsequent shootout with the police. But the policeman did not aim at Bouyeri's heart or head, but wisely shot him in his leg instead.
The case of Bilal Bakaj
Another example is Bilal Bakaj, also a young Dutch Moroccan from Amsterdam West. Last month, he was in an angry mood and entered a local police station stabbing a police woman and a policeman. Defending herself the seriously wounded police woman pulled her gun and fired at the aggressive attacker and killed him. This occured on October 14, 2007. The 22-year old Bilal and his younger brother Abdullah had a long criminal record: street crime, crimes against property, a lot of burglaries. He belonged to a group of hard-core Moroccan frequent offenders in Amsterdam West. The first incident occurred nine years earlier occur when he stabbed somebody in the head with a screwdriver. He got away with a so-called "taakstraf," or community service order. Such mild punishments do at all not deter frustrated Moroccan youths in the Netherlands, on the contrary.
Bilal was still a teenager when he got involved with a gang of young criminals from Amsterdam West who were stealing computers. After a long series of crimes Bilal was finally sentenced to 15 months jail, the period of pretrial detention was deducted from the sentence.[2 The Dutch Security and Intelligence Service AIVD and the local police linked Bilal and his younger brother Abdullah to the Hofstad Group. Both of them knew Mohammed Bouyeri and Samir Azzouz, another prominent member of the Hofstad Group from the problematic neighborhood of Slotervaart-Overtoomseveld. Azzouz and Bilal had been classmates. Bouyeri (nicknamed "Taliban") visited Bilal (nicknamed "Bartje") in the so-called "Bijlmer prison" on December 11, 2003. By this time, Bouyeri played a leading role in the Hofstad Group which frequently met in his house. The Central Intelligence Unit (CIE) of the Amsterdam police reported in August 2005 that a group of young Moroccans from Amsterdam West planned to blow up an Israeli airliner out of the sky near Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. Samir Azzouz, Bilal and Abdullah Bakaj were among them.[3 Further police investigations into the matter failed to produce sufficient evidence and the matter was subsequently dropped.
The Security Service AIVD reported on October 7, 2005 that a group radical Dutch Muslims around Samir Azzouz and Mohammed Chentouf planned a suicide attack in the Netherlands.[4 Four days later, the AIVD reported that Abdullah Bakaj belonged to the same group. He was trying find funding for the attack. "There are indications that Bakaj is one of those who are prepared to sacrifice his life. There are also indications that Bakaj belongs to the group around Mohammed Bouyeri and Radwan Al-Issa," the report said[5 Al-Issa was a failed asylum-seeker from Syria who played a leading role in the Hofstad Group.
The AIVD reported on October 13, 2005, that Samir Azzouz had prepared a martyrdom's testament announcing his own death in a future suicide attack. He praised "Sheikh Osama bin Laden, Sheikh Muhajid Ayman Al-Zawahiri and our beloved Sheikh Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi" all of whom have warned the Dutch government.[6
One day later, on October 14, 2007, Samir Azzouz and six other terror suspects were arrested. Among those who were arrested was Abdullah Bakaj. The Amsterdam police found the Mujahideen Explosives Handbook and the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook on his MP3 player. Abdullah was released after two weeks for lack of evidence. (This would not have happened if Abdullah would have been arrested in France where anti-terror laws are tougher and enforced more strictly.) His brother Bilal was not arrested but heard as witness. It was eventually decided not to monitor his activities very closely, in retrospect a serious mistake.[7
Bilal's family issued a statement on October 15, 2007, saying that "Bilal had been suffering from mental illness since 2003."[8Via a court order on April 25, 2007, Bilal was forced to undergo psychiatric treatment in the Valerius Clinic. He was suffering from schizophrenia. But he managed to escape several times and each time the police had to find him. The family claimed Bilal had suicidal inclinations, and they contacted the clinic three times to adjust the prescription of his anti-psychotic medication. On Thursday October 11, Bilal voluntarily went to the clinic to undergo treatment. He claimed he could no longer restrain himself. He had compulsive thoughts and heard voices in his head. But on Sunday October 14, he was allowed to leave the clinic, accompanied by a staff member from the clinic. Around half past eleven in the morning he managed to escape again, and headed for the police station in Amsterdam-Slotervaart. He jumped over the counter and stabbed a police woman in her breast and a policeman in his neck. The police woman shot him dead.
Was it a terrorist attack or an act of madness by an insane person? It happened on October 14, 2007, exactly two years after the arrrest of Bilal's brother Abdullah, Samir Azzouz and others. On that same day of October 14, 2005, Bilal had been heard as witness in what was now a major terrorist investigation. So the date of the attack on the local police station was carefully chosen. It was Bilal's revenge for what had happened two years earlier. He now wished to be shot dead by the police after first killing a few police officers himself.[9 This is what his friend Bouyeri also tried to do on November 2, 2004, when he provoked a shootout with the police. Bilal did not have a gun but he used a knife hoping that the police would fire at him and kill him. When Bilial attacked those two policemen, it was probably his intention to become a terrorist like his friend Bouyeri.
High incidence of schizophrenia among Moroccan immigrants
Dr. Jean-Paul Selten, a Dutch psychiatrist specialized in schizophrenia, claims Bilal's attack on the police station had to do with his mental condition. People with schizophrenia may have hallucinations or hear voices, they may be suffering from a persection mania. It is extremely dangerous if you use cocaine. Smoking hashish increases the risk of contracting the disease and many young Moroccan males – Bilal, too – do precisely this. "He was a patient," Selten said in the Dutch TV newsprogram Netwerk. Selten discovered that the chance of contracting schizophrenia is seven times higher among young Moroccan males than among native Dutch males in the same age group.[10
"The risks of any psychotic disorder were significantly increased for immigrants from Surinam, The Netherlands Antilles, Morocco and other non-western countries, but not for immigrants from Turkey, western or westernized countries. The same pattern emerged for the risks of a schizophrenic disorder (except for the non-significant elevation in the risk for Netherlands-Antilleans). The high risk for Moroccan immigrants was due to a large number among males, not females (...) As for young people of the second generation, the risks were increased for Moroccan and Surinamese subjects."[11
Selten tried to find an explanation for this phenomenon and concluded in a later study that "the rate of discrimination perceived by ethnic minority groups in western Europe, or some factor closely related to it, may contribute to their increased risk of schizophrenia." As Moroccans perceived they suffered more discrimination than any other ethnic group in the Netherlands they were more likely to contract schizophrenia.[12
What is being ignored here is the fact seven out of ten young Moroccans from Amsterdam do not finish school, and consequently, it is very hard for them to find a job (40 percent are unemployed). They often turn to crime instead. One out of ten young Moroccan males have a criminal record.[13 This has nothing to with being a victim of discrimination. Not to finish school is one's own choice, it is not what society tells you to do. Those Moroccans who did finish their education have a lot of opportunities. Indeed, many young Moroccan men and women go to universities. (Bilal's two sisters have university degrees and are making careers.) Ahmed Marcouch, president of the Slotervaart neighborhood council, told the Dutch newspaper De Telegaaf that the young Moroccan troublemakers just do not want to work: "Recently, I could offer them fifty jobs. They could work as a mailman or in the harbor but they don't want to work at all."[14 "They are scum who must be caught and punished, they must not be able pretend they are victims, " Marcouch told another newspaper.[15
Many of these Moroccan youths frequently discriminate and intimidate others, especially Jews and gays. They feel superior and behave like little gods or princes.[16Quite a few gays have been beaten up by angry young Moroccans in the streets of Amsterdam and it not just happening in Holland. Bruce Bawer calls it "gay-bashing," and it is on the upswing both in Holland and elsewhere.[17
The Internet abounds with discriminatory and virulent attacks on Jews and gays, yet neither Jews nor gays seem to contract schizophrenia as a result. It is rather simplistic to link "schizophrenia" to "discrimination."
In a number of cases schizophrenia could indeed provide an explanation for the behavior of some young Moroccan males. Perhaps this also applied to Bilal, but that does not exclude terrorism as a motive. Schizophrenia should never be an excuse for such actions, nor should it be a mitigating factor. The Valerius Clinic claimed Bilal was known as a friendly and non-aggressive person. That may be true inside the clinic, the fact is that he did escape several times and wreaked havoc outside.[18
Moreover, there are many other cases where bad behavior at home or in the street or plain murder cannot be ascribed to "psychotic disorders." When Mohammed Bouyeri was investigated by the psychiatric clinic of the Pieter Baan Center in Utrecht no mental disorder was found.[19 He was not insane or schizophrenic when he killed Theo van Gogh, he knew what he was doing. He was a fanatic, that is true, but he was not crazy.
Berber culture of honor and revenge
Most first generation Moroccon immigrants arrived as guestworkers in the Netherlands in the late 1960s and 1970s. More than 90 percent were poor Berbers from the underdeveloped region of the Rif mountains in Northern Morocco. The Dutch government expected these Moroccan guestworkers to return to their country as soon as they were no longer needed. This did not happen, though. They stayed, even after the bulk of them lost their manual jobs during the economic crisis of the 1970s and became dependent on social security benefits (uitkeringen). As these people were going to stay, the Dutch government allowed them to bring their wives and other family members over from Morocco. This also happened in Belgium, Germany and other European countries.
It is their children – the second generation – who now cause serious problems in big cities like Amsterdam but also in smaller towns like Ede in the heart of the country. There are similar problems in Brussels and Antwerp.[20
Honor, revenge and distrust of the outside world play an important role in Berber traditions and culture.[21 It is a culture dominated by males. This also affected the second and third generations and determined their youth culture. But men tend to be more aggressive and aware of honor issues than women. A knife is easily drawn, Moroccan youth gangs are notorious and extremely violent. Some of them are involved in prostitution and women trafficking. There are so-called "loverboys," who seduce young native Dutch women, give them nice presents, forcing their young victims into prostitution once they have won their hearts. About forty percent of these devious loverboys are Moroccans.[22They are not victims of discrimination at all, on the contrary they discriminate and intimidate native Dutch. They are the new machos, or worse, hardened criminals who make a lot of money.
The same applies to the Moroccan youth gangs operating in Amsterdam West. What really drives them is honor, revenge, bitter hostility toward native Dutch and the authorities and an inclination toward destructivenes.
They seek to control whole neighborhoods intimidating local residents. There were riots in Amsterdam Slotervaart after a seriously wounded police officer aimed her gun at the Moroccan attacker and shot him dead. There were cries for revenge. A cameraman from the Dutch news program Nova was told his face would be smashed if he would not get the hell out of the area. A camera team from the Dutch news program Eenvandaag was attacked, a stone was thrown through their car's front window. Stones were also thrown through the windows of the police station where Bilal had been shot dead. Some 30 angry Moroccan youths tried to attack the police station, stones were thrown at police officers who dared to confront them. Eleven cars were set afire in Amsterdam West in six days.[23
These young and violent frequent offenders like to imitate what happened in the Parisian suburbs in the Autumn of 2005 when after one single incident 12,000 cars were set afire in a period of just twenty days. The police, of course, did make a number of arrests. Three Moroccan youths carrying jerrycans filled with gasoline were arrested on October 17, 2007. A few days later they were free again. There was, the authorities lamely claimed, no conclusive evidence that they planned to set cars on fire. Five others who had also been arrested for other offenses, were also released later that week.[24Three Moroccans teen-agers from Amsterdam West were arrested on Saturday night October 20, 2007. Police noticed them as they filled an empty plastic Coca Cola bottle with gasoline. All of them had a police record.[25
The Amsterdam police are highly frustrated by the fact that those who were arrested had to be released two or three days later. The police, therefore, plead for much tougher anti-crime laws to deal with this kind of youth crime. There is also a widespread feeling among police officers that judges are too soft on this issue. This feeling was clearly expressed by Hans Schönfeld, the high-ranking Amsterdam police officer who is responsible for Amsterdam West, when he gave an interview to the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad. He said that there are about 35 Moroccan teen-agers who are making the Slotervaart neighborhood unsafe. "We do catch them, but quite often they are free again in a very short time. We need to tougher punishments."[26
This gang of 35 troublemakers is known as the "Mondriaan Group," named after the Mondriaan Square in Slotervaart. Voicing his frustration about the fact that a number of those who were arrested on October 17, were free again, Schönberg said:
"Five of the eight who were arrested belonged to the Mondriaan Group. Three of those guys were carrying jerrycans, and it was not their intention just to fill up their scooter's tank.
They are causing trouble continually, they commit a lot of crimes: they are wreaking havoc, they are involved in violence, theft, burglaries and you name it. And it goes on and on and on. You just can't believe such things are possible...
We have known these guys for years and have arrested them many times. But when they appear in court, the punishments are mild. Only twelve days for burglary, for example. And we are talking about guys who have been consistently involved in crimes for many years.... Judges only take into account the most recent facts for which these guys appear in court. We ask: Take into account the things they did before. If you can be sentenced to four years for certain crimes, why do these guys only get sentences of a few weeks? We are talking about guys who have a huge criminal record."[27
Schönfeld pointed out that many Moroccans in Amsterdam Slotervaart support him.
"But those youngsters we are talking about don't care about anything. They no longer listen to their parents or the imam. And if they can get away with light punishments after we arrest them they no longer listen to the police either."
Former Amsterdam police chief Joop van Riessen says that many years of persisent indecision of local authorities have undermined respect for both the city government and the police. (Local authorities were wary of being accused or "racism" and "discrimination" by "stigmatizing" the Moroccan community, and failed to realize that many Moroccans themselves abhorred what these youths and youth gangs were doing.). Van Riessen:
"Nobody noticed it, except the Moroccan youths themselves. They saw how the police hesitated to take action, they saw how the police hesitated to tackle these problems and so these youths were kind of given free reign to do whatever they wanted... For years many Moroccan boys could create havoc in the neighborhood and nobody intervened. They could let themselves go totally, and the police and the justice system were not able to stop or punish them. It was in this period that these youngsters learned how to deal with the police."[28
Job Cohen, mayor of Amsterdam, recently issued a strong warning: "There are too many Moroccan youths who slip further and further into crime." He was referring to about 1500 youths who are causing serious problems in Amsterdam. A lot of them are frequent offenders.[29 Local city administrators like Ahmed Marcouch fully support the police and plead for tougher punishments. The young Slotervaart criminals have already branded Marcouch, a Dutch Moroccan himself, a traitor (shkaam).
Local inhabitants of Slotervaart demonstated against violence and crime on Saturday October 27, 2007. Marcouch was there, too. The initiators were two mothers, Saida El Youbari and Floor Bos. One of Saida's son will be a dentist soon, and her daughter is studying psychology.[30 Marcouch said he was very happy about the initiative: "They are mothers who say we must raise our children here, they just want a good future for their kids. They know it is not good when the neigborhood has a bad reputation and they want to do something about it."[31
Salafism increasingly popular among young Dutch-Moroccans
It was not accidental that three Dutch-Moroccan hard-core members of the terrorist Hofstad Group grew up in the Amsterdam suburb of Slotervaart/Overtoomse Veld: Mohammed Bouyeri, Samir Azzouz and Ismail Akhnikh. All of them visited the Tawheed Mosque which is not far from the city center. The preaching in this mosque is based on Salafist doctrine. Salafism or Wahhabism was imported from Saudi Arabia where it is still the official theology of the state. It is a very conservative and strict interpretation of Islam. More radical Salafists like Osama bin Laden, Mohammed Bouyeri and their admirers believe in violence and violent jihad. They are called "Salafi jihadists."
In the past three years, the Dutch Security Service AIVD issued several warnings about the ongoing radicalization of young Moroccan immigrants. They listen to radical Salafist preachers and visit websites glorifying jihad and violence. They often clash with their parents, usually the first generation immigrants.[32 There are four important Salafist mosques: Al Tawheed in Amsterdam, Al-Fourqaan in Eindhoven, As-Soennah in The Hague and a mosque in Tilburg linked to the "Islamic Foundation for Education and Distribution of Knowledge." In at least one of these mosques having more than one wife (polygamy) is seen as allowed under Islamic law (Sharia). There are some 15 to 20 young and fanatic Salafi preachers who preach in Moroccan mosques or Islamic youth centers. Ten additional preachers are now being trained. They often preach in rooms packed with a hundred young Dutch-Moroccans. They reach thousands more through the Internet.[33They say they oppose violence (and perhabs they do), but once the seed of radicalization has been sown, it is difficult to resist the call to violent jihad.
A lot of criminal youths from Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht now turn to Salafist Islam and become "born again" Muslims.
The contents of Salafi preaching is anti-western and anti-democratic. Democracy must be replaced by an Islamic state ruled by Islamic or Sharia law. Man-made laws, democratic institutions and the national flag are seen as Shirq or idolatry. Jews and Christians are not seen as "the peoples of the book" but as enemies of Islam. Many Salafists really hate Jews and unbelievers. They believe that Jews are the archenemies of the prophet Mohammed and of Islam. When it comes to hating Jews simply because they are Jews, there are indeed similarities between Salafist theology and Nazi ideology.
Music is also seen as Shirq (although many Salafi jihadists enjoy and feel inspired by jihadist songs).[34 A Dutch journalist specialized in radical Islam recently visited Antwerp. She told me that local Salafists intimidated and threatened young Moroccans who wanted to go to a concert. They are putting strong pressure on moderate Muslims to change their lifestyle and views and become Salafists themselves. Many refuse to do so, but still the pressure on the moderates is enormous.
The recent AIVD report on Radical Dawa in Transition noted that many Salafists believe in Takiyya, originally a shia concept. You are allowed to conceal your real Salafi views to the outside world and pretend to be a moderate if circumstances demand you to do so. Those who speak on behalf of Salafi mosques often tell the outside world they are moderates who favor the integration of Muslims into Dutch society. This is a facade, the AIVD report says. Once among their trusted friends or inside their own mosque, they say quite different things.[35
It often happens in courtrooms when Muslim terror suspects are facing the judge. Most of them claim to be innocent, they claim they do not believe in violence. On the contrary, they present themselves as moderate Muslims who have a legitimate interest in Islamic teachings and traditions (gedachtegoed). Their lawyers present the same kind of arguments. But it is basically a smokescreen, it is a deliberate attempt to delude the judges, the press, the public and their own lawyers.[36
The cases of Moad Ben Salah and Michelle Yamini
Moad Ben Salah and his wife Michelle Yamini are two good examples of young Dutch-Moroccans who became Salafi Muslims. Ben Salah was born in Tetouan, Northern Morocco, in 1986. But it was in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, that he became a radical Muslim. Early 2006, he married his girlfriend Michelle Yamini who was born in the quiet Dutch town of Vianen in 1987. Michelle's mother is Dutch and her father is from Morocco. Initially, Michelle was not as radical as her husband. It was in May 2006 that Michelle talked to Moad on the phone asking him to moderate his tone:
Michelle: "We married two or three months ago and now you start talking about killing this, killing that. Death.
Moad: "Yes, am I not allowed to talk about such things?"
Michelle: "Well, not in the way you do it."
Moad: "I told you, I want to die, I didn't say anything else. I didn't say I am going tomorrow. Did I do anything wrong?"
Michelle: "You were pushing (me), yes, you were pushing."
Moad: "Pushing? What do you mean by that?"
Michelle: "Yes, and we will go, and we are going to do this and going to do that. I told you from the beginning, my dear, that this is difficult for me. I have not yet reached that stage. I have not reached that stage at all. I am a beginner. I told you so many times. I am a beginner but you treat me as if were a very strong Muslim woman... Don't talk about that subject anymore. Don't say each time, yes, I must do do this, I must do that, and I am going to kill this person or that person. Don't talk about it. Take it easy."[37
It would not take long for Michelle to become a radical Salafist herself. Both Moad and Michelle looked for like-minded friends and organized meetings in their home where Moad showed jihadist films to others. One of those present in these meetings was Jermaine Walters, the radicalized brother of convicted Hofstad terrorist Jason Walters. Moad still lived in Amsterdam at that time and Jermaine was his home mate, they were obviously close friends.[38Moad and Michelle would later move to the city of The Hague.
Moad and Michelle exchanged e-mails with Mischa Bellen, a Belgian Muslim convert who wanted to join the violent jihad. But Bellen first needed good training and thought Saudi Arabia was good place. He then approached Michelle who told him: "Go to Pakistan, it is is cheaper and there are more possibilities there." Michelle told her to get a Pakistani visa first, she would then help him to find a madrassa (Koranic school) in Pakistan. (Many of these madrassas are breeding grounds for extremism and jihadism.) Moad advised the Belgian convert to become a Shahada (martyr).[39Bellen did indeed go to Pakistan in 2006, and contacted Tablighi Jamaat, a Pakistani movement which was partly responsible for the radicalization of other western Muslim converts (Richard Reid, John Walker Lindh, José Padilla).[40
Michelle's e-mail address was SupporterOfSjariah@hotmail.com. ("SOS"). Using the name of "Fadoua", she began to disseminate radical texts on the Internet, especially speeches and texts from the Jamaican "Sheikh" Abdullah Faisal.
Faisal, whose real name is Trevor William Forest, is a Jamaican Muslim convert who became a notorious firebrand cleric in Britain. Before he arrived in Britain in 1990, he received some theological training in Saudi Arabia. He traveled widely throughout the United Kingdom, but was convicted in 2003 of soliciting murder and got nine years. In May 2007, the British finally sent Faisal back to his home country Jamaica. Faisal made references to training schoolboys to shoot kalashnikovs with a view to practicing jihad. His diatribes against the Jews were notorious.
"Must we hate the Jews and knock them down when we see them in the street? You have no other option but to hate them. How do you fight a Jew? You kill a Jew."[41
Another characteristic quote from Faisal, but now on infidels:
"This is how wonderful it is to kill a kuffar (unbeliever). You can crawl on his back and while you are pushing him down into the hellfire, you are going into paradise."[42
Faisal was encouraging Britons to go to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan before and after 9/11.[43 He also influenced fellow-Jamaican Germaine Lindsay, one of the terrorists who blew himself up in the London subway on July 7, 2005.[44
Both Moad and Michelle downloaded Faisal's sermons and listened to them in the presence of others. Moad very much wanted to visit Faisal in April 2007, as he knew that the cleric would soon be deported. Instead, Moad and Michelle were indicted themselves and had to go to court in October 2007. Presiding judge J. van der Kolk wanted to know why Moad was fascinated by Faisal:
Van der Kolk: "Are you a fan of his?"
Moad Ben Salah: "No."
Van der Kolk: "There is a tapped conversation about Faisal's sermons. You told Michelle: ‘You must save them on your MP3 player. I love you, my dangerous little girl! Court documents say Sheikh Faisal is a radical."
Moad: "I don't know what you mean by radical."
Van der Kolk: "You share his views."
Moad: "His speeches are rare and difficult to find."
Van der Kolk: "They are dangerous."[45
Not only was Moad Ben Salah a fan of Sheikh Faisal, he also strongly admired Mohammed Bouyeri, Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. Moad posted a collection of 88 jihadist documents and a personal introduction on the Dutch website www.marokko.nl. The introduction was signed by "Abu Al Waleed Al Tetouani" who praised "our brother and hero Abu Zubair, Mohammed B." The place and date was: Amsterdamistan (!), November 2, 2005, precisely one year after Bouyeri killed Theo van Gogh, that is.[46 Bouyeri himself adopted the name of Abu Zubair in 2004.
Moad Ben Salah was born in Tetouan, that is why he referred to himself as "Al Tetouani." He confirmed it was him when he faced the judges in the courtroom:
Presiding judge Van der Kolk: "These documents are rather radical."
Mohammed Ben Salah: "I show that people have different opinions about things. That does not mean I agree with them."
Van Kolk: "If that is the case you do not need to put documents on the Internet which are very radical."
Ben Salah: "This selection has been made by the prosecutor. I also put other documents on the Internet."
Van der Kolk: "But those documents about jihadist thinking are inflammatory."
Ben Salah: "I don't think they are inflammatory. I take part in a discussion between people, this does not mean I share their views."
Van der Kolk: "Abu Al Waleed Al Tetouani, is that you?"
Moad Ben salah: "Yes, I use a name."
Van der Kolk: "You say that you do not necessarily agree with the contents of those documents."
Ben Salah: "Yes, they were meant to start a debate."
Judge Geurts-De Veld: "In the first police interrogation you are very explicit about the Danish cartoons, (Geert) Wilders and (Theo) van Gogh. You say that the death penalty must be applied, this is what the Sharia says... ‘Those who insult the prophet deserve the death sentence,' this is what the scholars say. Is this also your own view?"
Ben Salah: "I don't have to share my views with everybody."
Judge van den Hurk: "Why don't you want to say this yourself?"[47
Avoiding straight answers, trying to portray himself as a moderate Muslim whose only intention was to provoke a debate about texts and documents, this was how Ben Salah operated throughout the trial.
Nevertheless, the judges acquittted Ben Salah of all charges when the verdict was passed on October 30, 2007. His wife Yamini, however, was sentenced to only one month for disseminating inflammatory texts via the Internet. "She is a Muslima with an above average interest in jihadist-salafist thinking, which she actively propagates by putting all kinds of documents and texts on the Internet, and using the name SupporterOf Sjariah," the court ruled. All this is punishable under article 132 of the Dutch penal code.[48
Why her husband Moad Ben Salah was not convicted, is a big mystery. He also put inflammatory texts (written by Mohammed Bouyeri and other jihadists) on the Internet (on the very popular website "marokko.nl," that is). The same judges who failed to convict him had previously confronted him with a lot of incriminating facts. His answers were clearly meant to delude the judges.
Two of the three judges, including presiding judge Van der Kolk, were women. Van der Kolk reacted angrily when Michelle Yamina, who was dressed in a black niqab, refused to remove the veil over her face. Van der Kolk said that she preferred to see Michelle's face, and that if she would persist in her attitude the court was not going to ask her any questions. This could have been an additonal motive to convict her.
Turkish criminals in Holland and migrant trafficking via Istanbul
Turkish immigrant communities are better integrated into Dutch society than Moroccans. Yet, a relatively high number of Turkish immigrants is involved in organized crime, an increasing number of young Turkish males is susceptible to the call of fundamentalist Islam. The same can be said about the large Turkish immigrant community in Germany.
Investigators are increasingly concerned about the links between North African, Turkish or Kurdish criminal networks and terrorist groups. Most of these networks and groups are involved in migrant trafficking, drugs, passport forgeries or arms smuggling. Whereas all terrorists are also criminals (terrorism is a crime), most criminals are not terrorists. Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization or network rather, the Italian, Russian or Turkish mafia are not. Yet, terrorism and crime can go together quite easily. The terrorists of the Colombian Farc and the Taliban are also involved drug trade.
A good example of a criminal who became a terrorist is Jamal Ahmidan. Ahmidan or El Chino (the Chinese) played a keyrole in the attacks in Madrid on March 11, 2004. Ahmidan was a Moroccan drug dealer in Spain who fought in Chechnya against the Russians in 1999 and was in touch with Emad Barakat Yarkas, the head of Al-Qaeda in Spain. On February 29, 2004, Ahmidan and two co-conspirators drove a car to Madrid. Inside the car – a Toyota Corolla – were the Goma 2 ECO explosives which would later be used in the attacks. On his way to Madrid Ahmidan and his friends were stopped by the Spanish traffic police for exceeding the speed limit. He then produced a forged Belgian passport in the name of Youssef Ben Salan. After reprimanding him, the police allowed him to continue his journey.[49 Drugs, forged passports and explosives used in a major terrorist attack – all the ingredients for a plot were there.
For some reason, Belgian passports are popular with terrorists. A terrorist cell linked to the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) operated in Holland in 2002. They were involved in drugs trafficking (cocaine) and passport forgery. They had 11 Belgian passports which had previously been stolen in the city hall of Maaseik, Belgium.[50
Turkish and Turkish-Kurdish mafias have played a very important role in Holland and Germany for years. Dutch criminologist Frank Bovenkerk told a parliamentary investigative committee in September 1995 that a substantial number of Turkish men in Amsterdam were involved organized crime.[51 Frank Bovenkerk and Yücel Yesilgöz later published a book on the Turkish mafia, saying that both the Turkish and Kurdish immigrant communities in Holland were substantially involved in the drugs trade.[52
In the established ethnic minority communities in the Netherlands there has been a mushrooming of drug trade circuits, that put people to work in a wide variety of roles. These drug trade groups have close ties with the largest established ethic minority groups.[53 Willem Holleeder, one of Amsterdam's biggest criminals, is said to have used Turkish hitmen and other Turkish criminals to expand his crime empire.[54One of these criminals is Senol Tuna, owner of a laundry in Amsterdam and convicted of murder. Another Turkish criminal linked to Holleeder is Özan Turfanda, involved in extortion.[55 Holleeder himself is currently on trial in Amsterdam. Turkish mafia networks in Holland and Germany are involved in killings, extortion, fraud, migrant trafficking and prostitution.[56
The Turkish city of Istanbul is an important center of the Turkish migrant trafficking mafia. A lot of the illegal immigrants go to Holland, Belgium Germany and Britain.[57 Terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda and the Kurdish PKK also use these criminal networks. Sheldon X. Zhang, Professor of Sociology at San Diego State University, investigated the links between migrant trafficking and terrorism and concluded:
"It is fair to say that behind each terrorist attack, there is a tie to some form of illicit enterprising activities, be it human smuggling or transportation of controlled materials... In a broad sense, to accomplish whatever political goals, terrorists must be able to travel. Geographical mobility enables terrorist groups to acquire weapons and explosives and to recruit and move personnel to strategic locations."[58
An apartment in the Turkish city of Istanbul was used as an operational base by Amer Al-Azizi, a high ranking Al-Qaeda operative in Europe. He organized an important Al-Qaeda meeting in Istanbul in October 2000 attended by Serhane Fakhet ("the Tunisian"), Said Berraj and Salahedin Benyaich ("Abu Mughen"). Fakhet and Berraj would later play a keyrole in the terrorist attacks in Madrid in March 2004, whereas Benyaich would be involved in the attacks in Casablanca in May 2003. The Turkish police arrested them in October 2000 but released them later. A fatal mistake because Azizi would also play a role in preparing 9/11.
Another important meeting hosted by Azizi in Instanbul took place in December 2002. This meeting was in preparation of the Casablanca attacks.[59 Present at this meeting were Mohammed Al-Guerbouzi (the founder of the Moroccan Combattant Group of GICM) and Mustafa Setmarian Nasar ("Abu Musab Al-Suri"), an importnat Al-Qaeda operative from Syria who had a Spanish passport.
A leading member of the Dutch Hofstad Group, Radwan Al-Issa ("Abu Khaled") used the Dutch passport of former Bosnian refugee Rafet Gutic to travel to Istanbul and from there he traveled to his home country Syria. The man who drove Al-Issa to Istanbul was a Moroccan involved in migrant trafficking and terrorism.
Istanbul and other Turkish cities are also used as base to smuggle terrorists by Iraqi and Turkish Kurdish terrorists or jihadists into Europe. In January 2006, a German court in Munich convicted the Iraki Kurdish terrorist Amin Lokman Mohammed to seven years. He had been involved in smuggling illegals into Germany and recruited several people for the jihad in Iraq.[60 The Kurdish Marxist PKK has successsfully smuggled PKK functionaries into Germany and other European countries. A special PKK department is in charge of passport forgeries and migrant trafficking.[61 Ö. Faruk Akinbingöl concludes that "a significant number of PKK-sympathizers is involved in migrant trafficking."[62
Possessing your own gun is quite normal for many Turks and Kurds from Turkey. Turkish crimimal gangs operating in Holland can be extremely violent.[63Turkish involvement in killings and murder is 22 times higher than native Dutch involvement. Turkish immigrants in Holland also have a considerable higher chance of being the victim of a murder.[64
Deadly violence is often related to issues of honor, these people are hot-tempered and emotional. This is indicative of a culture that regards honor crimes as normal. Honor killings occur when a male relative believes that the sexual integrity (namus) of a woman in the family has been violated. Consequently, the family honor is at stake. Many marriages in Turkey are arranged marriages and when a woman refuses to marry the man the family selected for her, she has broken the family's code of honor. Male members of the family (father, brothers, nephews or uncles) are then allowed to kill her with a view to restoring the honor of the family.
Apart from killing, other actions are also possible. When a decision is made to kill the woman whose honor has been violated, the victim is often shot or killed with a knife. Such killings are often approved by most family members.
Honor crimes are rare among cosmopolitan and westernized Turks but they do occur among Turks and Kurds from the central and eastern parts of Turkey. Since many Turkish and Kurdish immigrants in Holland and Germany are from these more traditionally minded regions, honor crimes also fairly frequently occur in Europe. This is the reason why the foundation Inspraakorgaan Turken in Nederland (IOT), an important Turkish organization Holland, recently published a booklet containing facts on honor crimes within the Turkish community. One of the facts about honor crimes is the culture of silence, there are taboo subjects. Women are usually the victim of this culture, because they are not supposed to show their true feelings. Men, however, can openly vent their anger when they feel that it is an issue of honor and shame.[65
Even some Turkish teen-agers in Dutch schools do not hesitate to use guns or knives. Mehmet, a Turkish 17-year old frequent offender in the Netherlands, is fascinated by violence and drugs. He knows a lot of Turkish criminals and claims many of them are in the "coke business."[66
A deadly incident occurred in a secondary school in the Dutch city of The Hague in January 2004 when the Turkish pupil Murat shot Hans van Wieringen, the school's vice principal. Murat got his gun from his Turkish friend Hüseyin. Murat killed Van Wieringen because he felt offended when the deputy principal wanted to expel him from the school after a number of serious incidents. At that time Murat's father, a drug dealer, was serving an eight year prison sentence for trying to kill another Turkish criminal. He also used a gun.[67
Another deadly incident involving a Turkish schoolboy occurred on Thursday 11 October 2007 when 14-year old Hüseyin stuck a knife into the body of his 16-year old Moroccan classmate Youssef Mokhtari. Youssef died in the hospital. This happened in the problematic Amsterdam suburb of Slotervaart. It was just another fatal incident related to honor. Fellow classmates claim Youssef had offended Hüseyin after Youssef had pronounced Hüseyin's surname in such a way that it meant "homosexual" in Moroccan. Hüseyin then threw a pencil at Youssef's head who reacted angrily, saying: "I'll will see you when schooltime is over." After schooltime they met in the square in front of the school and began to squabble. Suddenly, Hüseyin drew a knife and stuck Youssef who began to bleed heavily. Hüseyin reportedly had a reputation of being aggressive and hot-tempered. He boasted about the crimes he committed, smashing car windows and stealing laptops and "Tom Tom navigators."[68
A number of violent incidents in Dutch schools have been documented in a book which appeared in 2002. Teaching staff are afraid of Turkish and Moroccan pupils or their parents. There was an extremely violent Turkish pupil named Cemal who struck his teacher in the face and then stuck a screwdriver in his belly. Fortunately, Ger Huisman's wound was not too serious, but he did report the incident to the police.[69
The radicalization of Dutch-Turkish youngsters and the case of Murat Öfkeli
The Dutch National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism (NCTb) reported in October 2006 that a growing number of Turkish youths is "jihadizing."
"Where it was rare in the past for persons of Turkish descend to be seen in local and predominantly North African jihadist networks, there are now small groups of youngsters who seem to radicalize collectively. These youngsters are increasingly identifying themselves with the Islamic community which is replacing the Turkish-national identity. Frustration about the position of Muslims in the Netherlands and anger about what happens in conflict areas provide an incentive that ‘something' must be done." [70
The National Cordinator reported in December 2006 that an increasing number of Turks are susceptible to radicalization by distancing themselves from Dutch society.[71 Similarly, the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service's Annual Report 2006 voices concern over "a limited number of young Dutch-Turks" who espouse a form of ultra-orthodox Islam with strong intolerant and anti-integrative aspects:
"This phenomenon has occurred in groups existing practically of Dutch citizens of Turkish extraction and in multi-ethnic groups where Turks are also a part of. Youngsters who want to join such groups express an increasing aversion to Dutch and to Dutch government. They uphold the Islamic law (Sharia) before Dutch law and reject democratic principles. Also, the use of violence against non-Muslims in the country and abroad is approved of, for example in the form of a terrorist attack by radical-Islamic groups... A large majority of people within the Turkish community in the Netherlands disapprove of radical religious ideas and therefore have a negative view of radicalism."[72
Another recent AIVD report, Radical Dawa in Transition, points out that most Turkish mosques are moderate, yet there is an increasing number of Turkish youngsters who espouse Salafism, though their total number is still fairly limited. These youngsters isolate themselves from the Turkish community as a whole.[73
Recruiters from the extremist and anti-Semitic movement Hizb ut-Tahrir are also successsfully targeting young Dutch-Turks. Hizb ut-Tahrir probably has links with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) which in turn has links with Al-Qaeda.[74
Murat Öfkeli, alias Abu Jarrah, alias Ibrahim the Turk, is not a young recruit but a recruiter himself as well as a fundraiser. He was born in Gaziantep, near the Turkish-Syrian border, on June 28, 1970. He and his parents arrived in the Netherlands in 1977 and he became a Dutch national later. Öfkeli radicalized around 1992/93 and was in Sydney, Australia, in late 2000 where he moved in Wahhabi circles – a very small community indeed – raising money for an unknown charity. He met several local Muslim radicals one of whom was Egyptian born Mamdouh Habib, a known supporter of jihadist causes.[75 Some of these local Muslims stole his money and ticket. Habib intervened and Öfkeli got his passport and money back. US investigators claim that Habib "traveled to Afghanistan prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, where he stayed at a known Al-Qaeda safehouse in Kandahar, which was run by a highly placed Al-Qaeda operative."[76 They also allege that he had ties to individuals involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City. (He is an admirer of the blind Egyptian Sheihk Omar Abdul Rahman who inspired the attackers.)
Shortly after September 11, 2001, Öfkeli and his Mauritanian friend Yahya El Mamy Sakho were arrested, along with ten others. There were indications that they were involved in recruiting and facilitating the jihad in Chechnya and Afghanistan. Öfkeli, El Mamy Sakho and two others were believed to be in touch with leading figures of the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). A strange audio cassette was found in his Rotterdam apartment at Vijverhof Street number 141. (Öfkeli also had an address in the city of Eindhoven, where other cell members were operating as well.). When an Arab interpreter listened to the tape he heard Öfkeli pledge an oath of loyalty to Abu Hamza. This was not the notorious firebrand cleric in London but GSPC leader Abu Hamza Al-Hattab. Öfkeli also said: "I will not betray him."
The text of the oath was dictated to Öfkeli by El Mamy Sakho ("Abu Hanan"), a Mauritanian aylum seeker who lived in the same apartment.[77 The AIVD reported in August 2002 that both Öfkeli (Abu Jarrah) and El Mamy Sakho played a leading role in a network which supports or belongs to Al-Qaeda. They had actively tried to recruit young Muslim men for the jihad.[78
Among those who were possibly recruited by the GSPC terror cell were two young Moroccans who traveled to the Indian part of Kashmir in December 2003/January 2004 where they were subsequently killed by Indian Border Security Forces. Another one was Reda Awad who had already made a martyrdom's testament and was about to travel to Afghanistan where he hoped to die as martyr. Awad, too, lived at Vijverhof Street number 141.[79
The Dutch Security Service AIVD reported that this Dutch GSPC terror cell was providing material, financial and logistical support for the international jihad. The Al-Fourqaan Mosque in Eindhoven was used as an operational base. The network forged a huge number of identity papers and tried to recruit young Muslims for the jihad. Öfkeli once used a forged diplomatic passport to deposit a big sum of money into an account at the Fortis bank in Eindhoven. Later that day he used another passport to withdraw the money. Between 1993 and 2001 eleven new passports were issued in his name, four times Öfkeli claimed he lost his passport. This is often done by international terrorists and Al-Qaeda operatives who want to conceil their travels to Pakistan/Afghanistan, Chechnya or other jihadist hotspots. Öfkeli's role in the group was to raise money for the jihad.[80
For a man of modest means who did not have a job he had traveled widely: Australia, Finland, Austria, France, Switzerland, Belgium. In court, Öfkeli lamely claimed his travels had been made possible by "donations." When he was arrested in September 2001, he was in the night train to Paris.
In court, Öfkeli invariably invoked his right to silence. There was a look of icy contempt on his face. Yet, the Rotterdam Court acquitted Öfkeli and El Mamy Sakho in June 2003. A fatal mistake. In fact, this not so wise court decision encouraged both of them to continue to raise money for terrorist causes and to recruit others for the jihad.
There were new charges against Murat Öfkeli in November 2006 when he was arrested in The Hague that same month. The investigation began a year earlier, in November 2005, when three youngsters from The Hague were arrested in Azerbaijan. Two of them were Dutch-Moroccans, the third youngster was of Turkish descend. The three young Muslims from Holland claimed they were on holiday, but it was rather strange that they traveled in November, and not in the holiday season. They were probably on their way to nearby Chechnya to join the jihad. Eventually, Azerbaijani authorites sent them back to the Netherlands where suspicions were growing that the three had been recruited by Murat Öfkeli and his Mauritanian friend Yahya El Mamy Sakho. Prior to their trip, at least one of the three youngsters had frequently talked to both Öfkeli and El Mamy Sakho. This was the start of so-called "Tirana investigation."
On February 27, 2007, both Öfkeli's and El Mamy Sakho's bank accounts were frozen. They were prohibited from doing any financial transactions. "There were sufficient indications that they were involved in activities related to the international armed jihad," a circular letter on "restrictions against persons linked to Al-Qaeda" from the Dutch National Bank said.[81Later that year, El Mamy Sakho was sent back to his home country Mauritania. He was an illegal alien whose presence in the Netherlands was deemed undesirable by the authorities.
In March 2006, another investigation ("Nicosia") started. A request for legal assistance (rechtshulpverzoek) had been made by Belgium. One month before, Mischa Bellen, a native Belgian Muslim convert, had traveled to Pakistan. Belgian investigators suspected that Bellen planned to visit a terrorist training camp or join the jihad. They discovered that there was a frequent exchange of e-mails between Bellen and Michelle Yamini and Moad Ben Salah, two Muslim radicals in Holland who advised him on how to travel to the land of jihad (see above).
Both investigations were combined into one, the Tirana case.[82
There were indications that Öfkeli had encouraged two or three others to go to jihad in Afghanistan or Irak. Subsequently, the following persons were indicted:
- Murat Öfkeli ("Ibrahim");
- Bakr Mohammed Wehab (an Iraqi Kurd born in Sulaymaniya);
- Moad Ben Salah (a Moroccan born in Tetouan)
- Michelle Yamini (born in Vianen, the Netherlands; Moroccan father, Dutch mother);
- Mohammed Iliës Merai (a Tunisian born in Tunis);
- Yassine Benshrir (a Dutch-Moroccan born in Amsterdam).
The six cases came before the Rotterdam Court in October 2007. (The cases of Ben Salah and Yamini have already been discussed above.) Once again, Öfkeli, dressed in a long white robe, did not say anything during the court sessions. And he still stared at some people with a threatening look in his eyes.
In February 2006, Mohammed Iliës Merai and Yassine Benshrir asked Öfkeli's advice on how to travel to a country where they could join the jihad. A third jihad candidate was Abdelaziz Ouaddi, a Moroccan. Benshrir often met Öfkeli in a mosque in The Hague where the latter now lived. He asked his new friend to arrange a visa for Iraq or Afghanistan. "He was older and wiser," Benshrir later clarified in the courtroom. Benshrir also stated that Öfkeli acted as leader of the small group and that Merai acted as contact person.
Öfkeli further advised them to take a job in order to save money. He was raising additional money himself. A trip to Iraq or Afghanistan would cost 800 to 900 euro. He told them to do spiritual and physical training. (Each morning his early wake up calls were meant to remind them to do their morning prayers.)
Bakr Mohammed Wehab showed them a film about the jihad in his country Iraq. Benshrir later told the police that he did not really want to go. "We became angry fanatics and wanted to fight the oppressors," he said. "Those films (about the jihad) made us angry. But after two months, when we did not see these flims anymore we became less interested in the armed struggle." In the courtroom Benshir suddenly said he had just wanted to help the victims (of war), it had not been his intention to fight. When he said he wanted to kill the oppressors he was not serious. He was just angry.[83Prosecutor Alexander van Dam said that Benshrir's statement that he only wanted to provide humanitarian aid was not credible. There were files on his computer on survival techniques and making explosives but Benshrir lamely claimed he was only aware of the files on survival techniques.[84
Others knew about the jihad plans, too. Moreno Yepes, for example, talked on the phone to a friend and said: "Those three boys who want to go to Iraq and want to die. They want to go to another country to fight and kill the oppressors."[85 Yepes told the police in November 2006 that Merai had asked him to join them. "He said, let's go and die there. He wanted to fight the Americans. He wanted to go to Iraq, Afghanistan or another Islamic country." A few days later, Benshrir confirmed that they had indeed discussed this matter with Moreno Yepes.[86
Öfkeli asked his Iraqi friend Bakr Mohammed Wehab to organize (forged) passports for the three jihad candidates. Bakr made photocopies of Benshrir's passport and Ouaddi's driver's license and obviously knew that they would join the jihad.[87 Mohammed Merai told the police that Ibrahim (=Öfkeli) was an extremist. "I had to ask the brothers to give me money and I had to give this money to him later when we were in the mosque. He was the leader of the group." Merai also mentioned violent jihadist films. "They were horrible. I did not really want to fight," he said. But Moad Ben Salah told him: "We are obliged to fight."[88
Benshir's father and brother Soufiane blame Öfkeli for recruiting Yassine. Soufiane told him: "You are a radical, leave my brother alone."[89
Öfkeli wanted to marry a woman. This woman contacted Sheikh Fawaz Jneid, a Salafist imam in The Hague. He told her: "Don't marry him. His views on Islam are not correct. He is raising money for the Mujahideen, the violent jihad." Fawaz believes that Öfkeli played a role in recruiting the three youngsters who traveled to Azerbaijan. The father of one of the boys also thinks that it was Öfkeli who told them to go to jihad.[90
Despite all these incriminating facts the Rotterdam Court ruled on October 30, 2007 that Öfkeli was innocent and acquitted him of all charges. There was, the court said, no evidence that the suspect committed any of the crimes mentioned in the indictment. There was no evidence that he knew about the initial plans of the other suspects to take part in the armed struggle. There was no evidence that Öfkeli actively tried to convince them to wage jihad, the court said. Benshrir discussed with him the suffering of Muslim brothers and sisters abroad, and asked for advice about how to get money and obtain visa. But there is no evidence that Öfkeli gave him money, the court said.[91
This is the second time that Öfkeli is acquitted. It is highly unlikely that a man like this will now stop trying to recruit others for the jihad, and suddenly become a moderate Muslim.
If Öfkeli and Ben Salah would go on trial in France, there probably would be no acquittals. French courts are much more aware of the danger posed by Muslim fanatics who want to recruit others for the jihad. French judges take more time to dig into the terrorists' past and background.
Everything is a matter of interpretation, of course, but in this case the judges should have been more aware of the possible consequences for society when people like Öfkeli are acquitted. (And this is the second time he is acquitted, even though the prosecutor's presentation of the facts was cohesive and convincing.)
When Samir Azzouz, an important member of the Hofstad Group, was acquitted by the Rotterdam Court in April 2005, he left the courtroom with a triumphant smile. I heard him say something like this: "You are crazy." And he immediately began to prepare other terrorist attacks.
Certainly not every radicalized young Turkish or Moroccan man or woman becomes a terrorist. But quite a few of these radicals sympathize with those who commit terrorist acts. They watch jihadist films showing suicide bombers who murder defenseless women and children. Quite a few radicalized youngsters are candidates for recruitment by jihadist recruiters. There is no doubt about it that Öfkeli was such a recruiter.
There is no reason to panic, but there is reason to be concerned about the influence of these fanatics on our democratic societies and the leniency of some judges. There is also reason to be concerned about the rising influence of militant Islam in Holland and elsewhere. Fewer and fewer Muslim women in Amsterdam West still wear western clothes. In Antwerp, Salafist fanatics try to interfere when other young and more moderate Muslims want to visit a concert. Only because the fanatics are against art, music and dancing – and freedom, of course. They want to Talibanize our free society and establish a dictatorship where the primitives rule over the wise.
Emerson Vermaat is an investigative reporter who covers terrorism trials in the Netherlands. His website is: Emersonvermaat.com.
[1Emerson Vermaat, De Hofstadgroep (Soesterberg: Uitgeverij Aspekt, 2005), p. 25-63.
[2 De Telegraaf, October 16, 2007, p. 3 ("Bilal B. pleegde al waslijst van misdrijven"); Trouw, October 16, 2007, p. 5 ("Dader was bekend bij politie"). Nova TV, October 15, 2007. Press conference in Amsterdam on October 15, 2007 (chief of police, the mayor and the prosecutor).
[3 Politie Amsterdam, CIE-berichten, 2 and 5 August 2005.
[4 Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, Ambtsbericht, October 7, 2005.
[5Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, Ambtsbericht, October 11, 2005.
[6 The author has the full text of this document and also saw the video recording during the Piranha Trial, see: Emerson Vermaat, Dutch court sentences terror suspect Samir Azzouz ("Piranha") to eight years, in: Militant Islam Monitor, December 5, 2006.
[7 Press conference Chief Prosecutor Leo de Wit, Amsterdam, October 15, 2007; De Volkskrant, October 16, 2007, p. 1 ("Bilal B. was bekende van Hofstadgroep"), p. 5 ("Bilal B. vroeg kliniek om opsluiting").
[8 NOS Journaal and Nova TV, October 15, 2007.
[9 De Telegraaf, October 16, 2007, p. 1 ("Zelfmoordscenario onderzocht: Belager politie mogelijk uit op dodelijk schot").
[10 J.P. Selten (Utrecht University Medical Center), and others, Incidence of psychotic disorders in immigrant groups to the Netherlands, in: British Journal of Psychiatry, 2001 (178), p. 370. Schizophrenic disorders: Relative Risk (RR), Natives: 1. RR second-generation Moroccans, aged 15-29 years: 8; Wim Veling, Jean-Paul Selten, Natalie Veen, Winfred Laan, Jan Dirk Blom and Hans W. Hoek, Incidence of schizophrenia among ethnic minorities in the Netherlands. A four-year first contact study, in: Schizophrenia Research, 2006 (86), p. 191: 1997-2002, Moroccans second generation (male), aged 15-54: 6.8; native Dutch (male, 15-54 years): 1.0. See also: Jean-Paul Selten, Marokkaanse mannen vaker schizofreen, in: De Volkskrant, October 23, 2007, p. 12, Netwerk (Dutch TV), October 16, 2007 and his comments in the Dutch radio program De Ochtenden, October 26, 2006. Selten's investigations were limited, though, to the city of The Hague. Selten was criticized by Hans Werdmölder (a cultural anthropologist from Utrecht University), in: De Volkskrant, October 26, 2007, p. 1 ("Marokkaanse prinsjes eisen respect") and also by Carla Rus, a psychiatrist specialized in traumas, in: Trouw/de Verdieping, October 25, 2007, p. 19 ("Rotjochies van Slotervaart soms ziek maar niet zielig").
[11 J.P. Selten, and others, Incidence of psychotic disorders in immigrant groups to the Netherlands, in: British Journal of Psychiatry, 2001 (178), p. 369.
Wim Veling, Jean-Paul Selten, and others, Discrimination and the incidence of psychotic disorders among ethnic minorities in the Netherlands, in: International Journal of Epidemiology, 2007, Vol. 36 (4), p. 761-768.
[13Fleur Jurgens, Het Marokkanendrama (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 2007), p. 9.
[14 De Telegraaf, October 19, 2007, p. 5 ("Hier regeert het tuig!")
[15 Algemeen Dagblad, October 18, 2007, p. 4, 5 ("Maak met dit tuig korte metten!").
[16 Fleur Jurgens, op. cit., p. 10, 73, 157, 158.
[17Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept. How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within (New York/London: Doubleday, 2006), p. 39.
[18 Dagblad De Pers, October 17, 2007, p. 7 ("Behandeling Bilal B. onder de loep").
[19 Author's notes, Amsterdan Court, Trial against Mohammed Bouyeri, Amsterdam, July 11, 2005: statement by Dr. J.M. Oudejans, Pieter Baan Center.
[20 Marjon van San and Arjen Leerkes, Criminaliteit en criminalisering. Allochtone jongeren in België (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2001), p. 84-114.
[21 Frank van Gemert, Ieder voor zich. Kansen, cultuur en criminaliteit van Marokkaanse jongens (Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis, 1998, p. 40-45, 49. Doctoral dissertation University of Amsterdam.
[22 Netwerk (Dutch TV), 6 October 2007: "Uit onderzoek blijkt dat rond de veertig procent van deze loverboys van Marokkaanse afkomst is."
[23 Based on Dutch radio and TV reports between 16 and 22 October 2007 (Radio One, NOS Journaal, RTL 4 Nieuws, RTL 5 Nieuws, October 21, 2007, Nova TV, Euronews, October 21, 2007, showing footage of burned cars in Amsterdam West, Netwerk TV, Eenvandaag TV), NRC Handelsblad, October 16, 2007, p. 2 ("Stadsdeel ziet in imam bondgenoot").
[24NOS Journaal, October 20, 2007 (8:08 pm).
[25Dagblad De Pers, October 22, 2007, p. 2 ("Het blijft onrustig in Slotervaart"), De Telegraaf, October 22, 2007, p. 3 ("Verdachten met benzine opgepakt").
[26Algemeen Dagblad, October 19, 2007, p. 1 ("Politie: Rechters zijn te soft"), p. 4 ("Slotervaart politie kent raddraaiers, maar krijgt ze niet onder controle: ‘Alleen hard straffen heeft effect'").
[28 Joop van Riessen, In naam der wet. Veertig jaar bij de Amsterdamse politie (Amsterdam: Nieuw Amsterdam Uitgevers, 2007), p. 180-182 180. Van Riessen criticized the inaction Amsterdam's city authorities and their "culture of pitifulness" (zieligheidscultuur) to tackle many of serious problems the police was facing (see p. 47, 58, 134, 137, 146, 153, 179. 202, 203).
[29 www.parool.nl, October 31, 2007 ("Cohen bezorgd over toename probleemjongeren").
[30 The author was present at this demonstration.
[31Author's interview with Ahmed Marcouch, Amsterdam, October 27, 2007.
[32 Radicale Dawa in verandering. De opkomst van islamitisch neoradicalisme in Nederland (Leidschendam: AIVD, 2007), p. 36; General Intelligence and Security Service, Annual Report 2006 (Leidschendam: AIVD, 2007), p. 44, 45 ("Islamic youth subculture").
[33 Radicale Dawa in verandering, op. cit., p. 39-41, 66 (bigamy, polygamy).
[34 Ibid., p. 43, 44, 64.
[35 Ibid., p. 45. The first time I heard about Takiyya was in 1999 when a Dutch-Turkish researcher at the University of Amsterdam told me that some radical Muslims try to conceil their real views when they are on hostile terrain.
[36 Emerson Vermaat, Nederlandse Jihad. Het proces tegen de Hofstadgroep (Soesterberg: Uitgeverij Aspekt, 2006). This book gives many examples of Dutch terror suspects and witnesses who frequently lied in court.
[37 Landelijk Parket, Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie (Alexander van Dam) in de Strafzaken tegen: Bakr Mohammed Wehab, en anderen (and others) ter terechtzitting van de Arrondissementsrechtbank te Rotterdam op 9 oktober 2007, p 11, 12. Quoted hereafter as: Requisitoir (Prosecutor's Plea) Tirana Case.
[38Ibid., p. 11; author's notes, Tirana Trial Rotterdam, October 1, 2007. Moad: "In die tijd woonde ik nog in Amsterdam. Jermaine was mijn huisgenoot."
[39Author's notes, Tirana Trial Rotterdam, October 1, 2007.
[40 Radicale Dawa in verandering, op. cit., p. 54.
[41 Janny Groen and Annieke Kranenberg, Strijdsters van Allah. Radicale moslima's en het Hofstadnetwerk (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff/De Volkskrant, 2006), p. 97.
[42 www.timesonline.co.uk, January 23, 2003 ("Imam instructed British Muslims to kill infidels").
[43 www.timesonline.co.uk, February 24, 2003 ("Muslim cleric guilty of soliciting murder").
[44 BBC News, May 25, 2007, 14:12 GMT ("Race hate cleric Faisal deported").
[45 Author's notes, Tirana Trial, October 1, 2007.
[46 Janny Groen en Annieke Kranenberg, op. cit., p. 88.
[47 Author's notes, Tirana Trial, October 1, 2007.
[48 Rechtbank Rotterdam, Sector Strafrecht, Meervoudige Kamer voor Strafzaken, Parketnummer: 10/600045-06, October 30, 2007, Vonnis in de zaak tegen de verdachte Michelle Yamini, p. 8-10.
[49 Audiencia Nacional. Sala de lo Penal, Sección Segunda, Sumario número 20/04 del Juzgado Central de Instrucción núm 6. Rollo de Sala num. 5/05, Sentencia número 65/2007, October 31, 2007 (Court Verdict in the March 11 terrorism case), p. 200, 201.
[50J.M. Valente, Officier van Justitie Landelijk Parket Rotterdam, Requisitoir in de Strafzaak tegen Mohammed Ramzi, en anderen (20 May 2003), p. 80, 85.
[51Inzake opsporing. Enquêtecommissie Opsporingsmethoden (The Hague: Sdu Uitgevers, 1996), p. 40.
[52 Frank Bovenkerk and Yücel Yesilgöz, De maffia van Turkije (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 1998), p. 309.
[53 Cyrille Fijnaut, Frank Bovenkerk, Gerben Bruinsma and Henk van de Bunt, Organized Crime in the Netherlands (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1998), p. 85, 86.
[54 Algemeen Dagblad, October 9, 2007, p. 3 ("Moordenaar Endstra ook achter liquidatie Mieremet"); Ad.nl, Dossier Holleeder, September 16, 2007 ("Holleeders Turkse vrienden"); Marian Husken and Harry Lensink, Handboek Holleeder. Wie is wie in het proces van de eeuw (Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Balans, 2007), p. 112-128.
Bart Middelburg and Paul Vugts, De oorlog in de Amsterdamse onderwereld (Amsterdam: Nieuw Amsterdam, 2006), p. 199. Bart Middelburg is one the best investigative journalists in Holland. He was the first to report on organized crime in Holland. Middelburg told me a few years ago that he suspects that at least one Dutch journalist received money from the drug mafia. There are also a few Dutch journalists who portray Holleeder in a more favorable light.
[56 Emerson Vermaat, Misdaad, Migratie en Cultuur (Soesterberg: Uitgeverij Aspekt, 2004), p. 131-152.
[57 Ö. Faruk Akinbingöl, Knooppunt Istanbul. Mensensmokkel via Turkije (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 2003), p. 15-38, 48-62.
[58 Sheldon X. Zhang, Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings. All Roads Lead to America (Westport: Praeger Publishers, 2007), p. 127, 135.
[59 Emerson Vermaat, De dodelijke planning van Al-Qaida (Soesterberg: Uitgeverij Aspekt, 2005), p. 140. Esmas.com, May 7, 2004 ("Hallas huellas de Al Qaeda en 11-M"). Azizi is described as the "military chief of Qaeda in Europe"); Casimiro García-Abadillo, 11-M. La Venganza (Madrid: La Esfera de los Libros, 2004), p. 111-113, 168, 169, 185; Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2004, p. 1, 17 "(Madrid bombing suspect is key Al Qaeda liasion"); Time.com, May 3, 2004 ("World Watch: Terror Errors").
[60 Verfassungsschutzbericht 2006 (Cologne: Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, 2007), p. 226.
[61 Verfassungsschutzbericht 2004 (Cologne: Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, 2005), p. 230; Emerson Vermaat, Misdaad, Migratie en Cultuur, op. cit. p. 151.
[62 Ö. Faruk Akinbingöl, op. cit.. p. 161.
[63 Emerson Vermaat, Misdaad, Migratie en Cultuur, op. cit., p. 140.
[64 Gerlof Leistra and Paul Nieuwbeerta, Moord en doodslag in Nederland (Amsterdam: Prometheus, 2003,), p. 131, 132.
[65Jale Simsek, Alle ogen op haar gericht: Eerwaak, traditioneel geweld tegen Turkse vrouwen en meisjes (Utrecht: Stichting Inspraakorgaan Turken in Nederland/Hollanda'da Türkler Icin Danisma Kurulu, 2007), p. 42, 43.
[66 Willem Oosterbeek, Vet vast. Het leven in jeugdinrichting De Doggershoek (Inmerk/Willem Oosterbeek, 2005), p. 65, 66, 71.
[67 Emerson Vermaat, Misdaad, Migratie en Cultuur, op. cit., p. 117-122.
[68 Het Parool, October 12, 2007, p. 1 ("Dader zwaaide eerder met mes"); Algemeen Dagblad, October 13, 2007, p 4 ("Dader steekpartij dreigde al eerder met vlindermes"); NOS Journaal en RTL4 Nieuws, 12 en 13 October 2007.
[69 Huub Buijssen and Mathilde Bos, Lesje geleerd. Indringende ervaringsverhalen van leraren (The Hague: Elsevier Bedrijfsinformatie, 2002), p. 18-22.
[70Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal, Vergaderjaar 2006-2007, Kamerstuk 29 754, No. 87, Terrorismebestrijding, p. 4 (NCTb report).
[71 Nationale Coördinator Terrorismebestrijding (NCTb), Vijfde voortgangsrapportage terrorismebestrijding, December 20, 2006.
[72General Intelligence and Security Service, Annual Report 2006 (Leidschendam: AIVD, 2007), p. 43, 44.
[73Radicale Dawa in Verandering. De opkomst van islamitisch neoradicalisme in Nederland (Leidschendam: AIVD, 2007), p. 33, 47.
[74 Ibid. p. 56.
[75 ABC.net.au, September 4, 2003 ("Mandouh Habib linked with alleged al-Qaeda supporter").
[77 J.M. Valente, Officier van Justitie Landelijk Parket Rotterdam, Requisitoir in de Strafzaak tegen Mohammed Ramzi, en anderen (20 May 2003), p. 63, 72.
[78 Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, Ambtsbericht, August 27, 2007 (dossier tweede jihadzaak: 0/AH/07).
[79 J.M. Valente, op. cit., p. 63.
[80 Ibid., p. 63, 64, 90, 105, 107, 108 (Reda Awad). "Leden van de groep (Daoud, Oumaklouf, Hanan en Öfkeli) hebben vermoedelijk persoonlijke banden met leidinggevende personen van de terroristische organisatie GSPC." Two AIVD reports on the links between the group operating in Holland and the GPSC.
Author's notes Second Jihad Trial, Rotterdam Court, May 16, 2003 (GSPC).
[81 De Nederlandse Bank, Divisie Toezicht Internationale Conglomeraten, Expertisecentrum Integriteit, Circulaire Sanctieregeling Terrorisme 2007, February 26, 2007.
[82 Landelijk Parket, Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie (Alexander van Dam) in de Strafzaken tegen: Bakr Mohammed Wehab, en anderen (and others) ter terechtzitting van de Arrondissementsrechtbank te Rotterdam op 9 oktober 2007, p. 2, 3. Quoted hereafter as: Requisitoir (Prosecutor's Plea) Tirana Case.
[83 Author's notes, Tirana Trial, Rotterdam Court, October 1, 2007.
[84 Requisitoir (Prosecutor's Plea) Tirana Case, October 9, 2007, p. 14; author's notes, Tirana Trial, Rotterdam Court, October 1, 2007.
[85 Author's notes, Tirana Trial, Rotterdam Court, October 1, 2007.
[86Requisitoir (Prosecutor's Plea) Tirana Case, October 9, 2007, p. 14.
[87 Ibid. p. 10.
[88 Author's notes, Tirana Trial, Rotterdam Court, October 1, 2007.
[89 Requisitoir (Prosecutor's Plea) Tirana Case, October 9, 2007, p. 17.
[90Author's notes, Tirana Trial, Rotterdam Court, October 8, 2007.
Rechtbank Rotterdam, Sector Strafrecht, Meervoudige Kamer voor Strafzaken, Parketnummer: 10/600130-05, October 30, 2007, Vonnis in de zaak tegen de verdachte Murat Öfkeli, p. 5, 6.
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