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Moroccan Immigrants In The Netherlands And Belgium And Their Involvement In Crime And Terrorism

August 17, 2009

Moroccan Immigrants In The Netherlands And Belgium And Their Involvement In Crime And Terrorism


August 17, 2009 - San Francisco, CA - - In a critical essay on immigration published in 2002 Dutch Erasmus University Professor Arie van der Zwan points out that non-Western immigration has skyrocketed since the early 1970s. In 1972, there were 55,000 so-called "guestworkers" in the Netherlands. Most of them were from backward regions in Turkey and Morocco. Twenty-five years later, by 1996 that is, their number had risen dramatically. There were now over 500,000 Turkish and Moroccan immigrants most of whom were dependent on welfare. (Ten times more Moroccan/Turkish immigrants than in 1972.) According to van der Zwan only 20 percent of them had a job.

Contrary to initial expectations very few immigrants returned to their home countries after they had been dismissed from their jobs. (There was a serious economic crisis in the 1980s and a lot of factories and companies went bankrupt.) Instead, they massively chose to invoke the right to family reunification allowing their wives and family members to join them. Most of these wives and family members were also from backward regions. (A lot of them are poorly integrated and still do not speak Dutch.) As per the latest estimates (2009), the total number of Turkish and Moroccan immigrants is 730,000, nearly a 25 percent increase since 1996. The immigration patterns in Belgium are roughly the same. Apart from the problems caused by Moroccan and Turkish immigration flows there is the rapidly increasing volume of migration from Africa. This is destabilizing Western societies and is already causing very serious problems in many European countries and cities, not only in Southern Europe but also in Holland, Belgium, Britain and Scandinavia. I see the alarming reports on Africa related crime (migrant trafficking, armed robberies, knife-crime, selling illegal goods on the streets, raping of women, drugs, prostitution, etc.) nearly every week.

Since too many of these immigrants depend on welfare and are poorly educated, the costs of these massive immigration flows are enormous. The Dutch business weekly "Elsevier" recently investigated this matter and concluded that the total costs of non-Western immigration to the Netherlands alone

is 216.4 billion euro. Roughly the same will probably apply to Belgium.

The problem in Holland and Belgium is not just that many of these immigrants depend on welfare, they also tend to visit doctors and hospitals much more frequenly than native Dutch. Many Moroccan and Turkish men marry their niece, so inter-family marriages and even inbreeding abound which does have an adverse effect on the health of children. A lot of Moroccan men and women suffer from diabetes. Schizofrenia and the Down Syndrom also occur more frequently than is the case with native Dutch.

Ethnic crime in the Netherlands A relatively high number of Turkish and especially Moroccan immigrants are involved in crime – both in the Netherlands and Belgium. This has been going on for years now, as has clearly been shown in detailed studies conducted by criminologists such as Frank Bovenkerk, Cyrille Fijnaut, Gerben Bruinsma and Marion van San. A Dutch Parliamentary Investigation Committee concluded in 1995/96 that "there is a disturbingly high level of direct or indirect involvement in organized crime from the country of origin by Surinamese, Moroccan and Turkish communities in the Netherlands." And a 1998 Dutch criminological study claims: "The police concluded that at least one member of all the Moroccan families in the Gooi (a rich part of the country located southeast of Amsterdam, V.) was either directly active in the hashish business or indirectly profiting from it."

Things have not improved since. A recent study on Dutch Moroccans by NRC Handelsblad reporter Paul Andersson Toussaint even claims that 70 percent of the Moroccan youths in Amsterdam have a police record. He quotes reliable sources who claim that it is the Moroccan parents who are largely to blame for this. They invariably instruct their children to look down on native Dutch. These Moroccan kids now behave like little street gang bosses harassing young Dutch women, robbing elderly ladies or stealing scooter-mobiles. The overburdened police are often incapable of really tackling this problem, partly because many victims are scared and intimidated. Consequently, they fail to report these crimes to the police. These youths – usually males – simply terrorize the streets. If someone does report them to the police they quickly deny everything, claiming they are victims of "racism." "Is is rarely mentioned, but there are a lot of criminal Moroccan fathers here," Mourad Taimounti told Andersson Toussaint. Taimounti, one the many good Dutch Moroccans, is involved a local initiative to stop harassment by Moroccan youths. For some reason, he is not afraid of being accused of racism.

Turkish and Turkish Kurdish men are involved in quite a lot of criminal liquidations (gangland killings), honor crimes, drug crimes and extortions. Two of them – Senol Ayhan Tuna and Ozan Kuteybin Turfanda – were on trial during the spectacular Holleeder Trial in Amsterdam (2007/2008). Turkish crime is not new. It is more than ten years ago that Frank Bovenkerk en Yücel Yesilgöz, two leading Dutch criminologists, published a book on the Turkish mafia. Dutch politicians tended to ignore the huge problem of ethnic crime in the big cities. Bovenkerk en Yesilgöz write that Amsterdam mayor Ed van Thijn (Labor Party) simply vetoed a decision to deal effectively with Turkish drug crime and the many drug related killings. He did not want the police to conduct "razzias" against a major ethnic community in Amsterdam, the mayor lamely said. He naively assumed it was possible to solve the problem of crime by just drinking coffee with these Turkish criminals. Fear of being accused of "racism" has always been a major obstacle to deal effectively with serious organized crime within ethnic communities. (Especially liberal politicians are falling for this trap, and not just in Holland or Belgium.)

Belgium: another Mexico?

Turkish and Moroccan immigrants are also overrepresented in crime statistics in Belgium. The Belgian newspaper De Standaard claims that "foreigners" constitute 44 percent of the Belgian prison populations – nearly half that is. This roughly corresponds to the situation in the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom and Germany. For some reason, Moroccan immigrants are among the most notorious hardline criminals in Belgium. It was on July 23 that three Morroccan criminals escaped from their prison in the picturesque Belgian town of Brugge. Gangleader Ashraf Sekkaki and his friends Abdelhaq Melloul-Khayari and Mohammed Johri managed to escape by means of a hijacked helicopter. The helicopter had been hijacked by Lahoucine El Haddouchi and Johri's girlfriend, Lesley Deckers, a native Belgian Muslim convert. Because the helicopter was overloaded, El Haddouchi had to stay behind. The three Moroccan gangsters and Miss Deckers then fled to Amsterdam where they stayed in the inconspicuous "A-Train Hotel." Using the hotel as their operational base they conducted four spectacular bank robberies in Belgium. Using false identity papers, the three gang members planned to escape to Morocco. They were assisted by Moroccan family members in Germany and Belgium. Sekkaki and Johri did indeed manage to escape to Morocco where they were later arrested by the Moroccan police. They will not be tried in Belgium but in Morocco. Melloul-Khayari was arrested in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, an immigrant area of Brussels. He had previously attempted to travel to Morocco via France but was spotted by the French police in Paris. He then fled to Brussels where he enjoyed the protection of his brother Redouane and a friend. Redouane is another notorious criminal in Belgium. Lesley Deckers was the last to be captured by Belgian police. She will now face trial and will be charged with hijacking a helicopter and assisting a dangerous armed criminal gang.

On Tuesday August 4, three other notorious Moroccan criminals escaped from after two armed and masked criminal gang members stormed the Brussels courtroom where they were on trial. Security at Belgian courts is patchy and security guards are not even allowed to carry guns. Belgium now looks like lawless Mexixo where armed criminal thugs also "liberated" fellow-criminals from jails. The three Moroccan criminals who escaped from the Brussels courtroom – Oussama Trimini Langeri, Youssef Oulad Haj Chaib and Abdelhalim Akim – have a reputation of extreme violence. In November 2008, they entered a house in Londerzeel where they threatened to kill a child and two women if their demands (cash money and a car) were not met immediately. They had a kalashnikov, a deadly and efficient automatic weapon, as well as two pistols.

Compared to Morocco, sentences in Belgium are very lenient indeed. Because prisons are overcrowded prisoners are often released prematurely. After their premature release from prison last year, Trimini Langeri and Oulad Haj Chaib immediately resumed their criminal activities. Before he was twenty years old, Abdelhaq Melloul-Khayari had already been involved in 40 armed robberies. In 1991, he was sentenced to 19 years of imprisonment. But after his premature release he, too, quickly resumed his criminal career joining an extremely violent Moroccan criminal gang. He was arrested again, tried, sentenced and then released prematurely once more in 2005. After having robbed a bank last year he opened fire aiming his kalashnikov toward a police helicopter. A very dangerous criminal indeed who should be in jail for the rest of his life or who should have been deported to Morocco years ago. Once in prison, these criminals usually continue their criminal activities, giving instructions to other gang members by means of cell phones. Jailed Moroccan criminals were even allowed to have sexual intercourse with the girlfriends who visited them.


Not only is Belgium favored by many Moroccan criminals, this country also happens to be the playground of many a North African Al-Qaeda terrorist. It was in Belgium that two Tunisian immigrants, Nizar Trabelsi and Tarek Maroofi, tried to stage terrorist attacks. An American Muslim convert named Bryant Neal Viñas ("Bashir Al-Ameriki") now claims he met Belgian fellow jihadists in an Al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan. According the Spanish newspaper El País, Viñas claims to have had conversations with Hamza El Alami, a Moroccan taxi driver in Brussels. He also says he met the Tunisian jihadist Moez Garsallaoui, the husband of Belgian Al-Qaeda operative and "internet-jihadist" Malika Al-Aroud. Garsallaoui is another Al-Qaeda operative who is now believed to train jihadists in the Pakistani-Afghan border area. In 2008, three Belgian Moroccans, Hicham Beyayo, Youssef Arrisi and Ali El Ganouti traveled to an Al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan. They were trained for a suicide mission in Belgium. They were arrested upon their return to Belgium. They had been recruited by Garsallaoui who then operated in Brussels. Although they denied this, their mission was to stage a suicide attack in Belgium.

Malika El Aroud ("Oum Obeyda") had previously been married to Dahmane Abd-Al-Sattar, one of the two Tunisian Al-Qaeda operatives who killed the anti-Taliban resistance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud on September 9, 2001. Massoud's killers, who were also killed themselves on September 9, used forged Belgian passports. This was entirely an Al-Qaeda operation. Osama bin Laden wanted Massoud out of the way before Al-Qaeda's attack America began on September 11.

Last month, Abedelkader Belliraj, a Belgian-Moroccan, was sentenced to life in Morocco. During the investigation, he told the Moroccans that he had traveled to Afghanistan where he met Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden shortly before the 9/11 attacks. He also said he led a terrorist cell in Brussels in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The notorious Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal ordered him to kill six people, the prominent Jewish doctor Joseph Wybran among them. (Belliraj later withdrew all his confessions, though.) Belgian media report that Belliraj was also an informant of Belgian state security. He was a well integrated immigrant and family man who aroused no suspicion.

Most members of the Hofstad Group, a terrorist network in the Netherlands, were young Moroccan immigrants. The leader of the Hofstad Group, Mohammed Bouyeri, was also a Dutch-Moroccan. On November 2, 2004, Bouyeri killed Theo van Gogh, a vocal Dutch Islam critic. Although he did not belong to Al-Qaeda himself, Bouyeri adored "Sheikh" Osama bin Laden. So did the hardcore members of the Hofstad Group. (All of the hardcore members are in prison now, Bouyeri is serving a life sentence.) A recent Dutch intelligence report refers to a "radical Islamic youth culture" (in a paragraph dealing with "The Moroccan community and radicalisation in the Netherlands"). Organizations and individuals seeking to disseminate extremist ideas amongst "this potentially receptive group" are being monitored by the Dutch Intelligence and Security Service. In July, four Dutch terror suspects were arrested in Kenia. Although they claimed to be on vacation, there was reason to believe that they were on their way to Somalia to join the jihadists of "Al-Shabab," a Somali terror group linked to Al-Qaeda. Three of the arrested men were Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands, one was a Somali immigrant in Holland. One of the Moroccan men was described by Muslim sources in The Hague as a known jihadist recruiter.

Concluding comments

Certainly not all Moroccan immigrants in Belgium and Holland are involved in crime or terrorism, of course. Two Dutch journalists, Janny Groen and Annieke Kranenberg, recently published the book "Opstand der gematigden" ("Revolt of the moderates"). They show that there are many moderate Muslims (Moroccans, Turks and others) in the Netherlands who do not agree with radical viewpoints. The term "revolt" is slighty exaggerated, though, because too many moderate Muslims in Holland still do not protest loudly enough but prefer to keep silent. There is also the issue of crime. Unfortunately, this issue cannot simply be solved by vocal condemnations of these practices alone. Much more is needed and expected from the Muslim community, notably from the Dutch Moroccans. Many Moroccan criminal youngsters rarely visit mosques, others join some kind of jihadist network. They do not listen to the voice of the moderates anymore but consider them traitors.

Talking about moderates, when I was in Algeria and Morocco I saw more Western dressed women than in some parts of Amsterdam and Brussels. I had a tv interview with "Miss Algeria" in Algiers in 1998 and she was wearing jeans. She knew, of course, that the terrorists and the fanatics were targeting her, yet she showed the courage to ignore them. Forcing too many women to look like ghosts or traditional Catholic nuns is an important issue that the moderates should not fail to address either. This – Holland and Belgium – is not a traditional Moroccan or Turkish society, nor should it ever become one.

Emerson Vermaat is a Dutch investigative reporter specializing in crime and terrorism. Website:


Arie van der Zwan, Waar blijft de ombuiging in het immigratiebeleid?, in: Socialisme en Democratie, 2002, number 4, p. 43.

Elsevier, August 1, 2009, p. 14-17 ("Tweehonderd miljard"). "De niet-westerse immigratie heeft tot en met dit jaar aldus berekend een negatief saldo van 216,4 miljard euro opgeleverd."

Joost Niemöller, Waarom vreest de politiek migratiecijfers? In: de Volkskrant (Netherlands), August 1, 2009, p. 12. "Nooit kwamen er zoveel immigranten naar Nederland als vorig jaar, namelijk 140.000." The number of immigrants entering the Netherlands last year was 140,000. Quite a lot came from Africa, by the way.

Enquêtecommissie Opsporingsmethoden, Inzake Opsporing (The Hague: Sdu Uitgevers, 1996), p. 39-41 ("...enkele tientallen procenten van de volwassen Turkse mannen in Amsterdam..."), p. 423 ("...onrustbarend groot...").

Cyrille Fijnaut, Frank Bovenkerk, Gerben Bruinsma and Henk van de Bunt, Organised Crime in the Netherlands (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1998), p. 84-87, 136. Page 87: Moroccan drug crime in "the Gooi."

Marion van San and Arjen Leerkes, Criminaliteit en criminalisering. Allochtone jongeren in België (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2001), p. 49 ("Significante oververtegenwoordiging van Marokkaanse jongeren doet zich voor voor alle onderzochte delicttypen"), p. 102-115 130-143.

Marion van San, Van politiek correcte geesten mag criminaliteit onder allochtonen niet onderzocht worden, in: De Morgen (Belgium), December 20, 2001, p. 15. Paul Andersson Toussaint, Staatssecretaris of seriecrimineel. Het smalle pad van de Marokkaan (Amsterdam: Bert Bakker Publishers, 2009), p. 33, 39, 40, 47-49, 66, 67.

Paul Andersson Toussaint, Er zijn niet slechts een paar criminele Marokkanen, in: NRC Handelsblad (Netherlands), May 23, 2009, p. 4, 5 (Saturday supplement "Opinie en debat"). Quote from Mourad Taimounti.

Landelijk Parket, Requisitoir van het Openbaar Ministerie in de stafzaken tegen Maruf Mrzic, Willem Frederik Holleeder, and others part I and II (November 2007). The author partly followed this trial.

Frank Bovenkerk and Yücel Yesilgöz, De mafia van Turkije (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 1998, p. 301, 302. Amsterdam mayor Ed van Thijn was drinking coffee with Turkish criminals.

Frank Bovenkerk, Misdaadprofielen (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 2001), p. 122-159 ("the multicultural underworld").

De Standaard (Belgium), August 2, 2009, p. 13 ("Een tevreden gevangene wil niet ontsnappen"). "Buitenlanders maken 44 procent van de totale gevangenispopulatie uit."

Various Belgian media reports 23 July-11 August 2009 (Sekkaki gang).

De Morgen (Belgium), August 5, 2009, p. 3 ("Gemaskerde handlangers zwaaien met wapens in volle zittingszaal").

De Standaard, August 5, 2009, p. 1-7 ("Niet meer uit te leggen"). "Daarbij hieven ze het kind in de lucht en zetten een wapen tegen het hoofd."

El País, August 3, 2009, p. 6 ("Un americano en Al Qaeda"). Bryan Neal Viñas' mother is from Argentina, his father is from Peru. His parents are divorced. Originally a Roman Catholic, he converted to Islam in 2004 and was later recruited by Al-Qaeda. He traveled to Pakistan in September 2007.

De Morgen, July 2009, p. 4 ("Amerikaanse Al Qaedastrijder trainde met Belgische rekruten"). Viñas, Garsallaoui (also spelled: Garsalloui) and Malika El Aroud. De Standaard (online), April 17, 2009 ("Extremisten trainden in Afghanistan"). Garsalaoui recruited jihadists in Belgium.

Author's files on terrorist networks in Belgium.

De Standaard, July 29, 2009, p. 4, 5 ("Abdelkader Belliraj levenslang de cel in").

De Morgen, July 29, 2009, p. 4 ("Abdelkader Belliraj krijgt levenslang in Marokko").

General Intelligence and Security Service, Annual Report 2008 (The Hague: AIVD, 2009), p. 28, 29.

Janny Groen and Annieke Kranenberg, Opstand der gematigden. De groeiende weerbaarheid van Nederlandse moslims (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 2009).

©2009 Emerson Vermaat. All rights reserved.

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