Friday, February 18, 2005
This report surveys in depth the available open source information about the ritualistic murder of the filmmaker Theo Van Gogh on the streets of Amsterdam on November 2, 2004. The report makes the case that the murder of Van Gogh was a terrorist attack implemented by an al-Qaida inspired radical Islamist group within the framework of global jihad, and not an act of religious violence by a lone fanatic. The report also argues that the invasion of Iraq was an important motivational factor for the assassin and his accomplices, in addition to grievances related to the Dutch government’s policies concerning immigration and Dutch counter-terrorism measures.
The Norwegian Defence Research Establishment report is riveting, and includes a detailed description of the killing of Van Gogh, several pages on the background and religious development of Muhammad Bouyeri (the killer), and details of the terrorist cell through which he operated.
According to the Dutch Interior Minister, Johan Remkes, a terrorist cell formed by members of the Hofstad Network started to show “conspiratorial behaviour” in 2003. The group is suspected of having planned a series of assassinations of Dutch politicians who were critical of Islam and Muslims, and also of having planned bomb attacks against several high-profile targets in the Netherlands, including the county’s only nuclear reactor, Borssele nuclear power station, in November 2003. It has been confirmed that the militants maintained extensive international contacts. They communicated amongst themselves and with jihadists abroad through the use of the Internet, mobile phones, in addition to meetings. As noted above, after Bouyeri joined the group, they met twice a week in his house. It has also been confirmed that three members of the network trained in Kashmiri jihad camps in Pakistan, and that two members attended a training facility in Afghanistan. It is a common pattern of the other Islamist terrorist cases in Western Europe that operatives received para-military and/or urban terrorism training in jihad-camps in Afghanistan.
The Norwegians describe the relationship between various Islamist groups operating out of Holland and counterparts in Morocco, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia. The report gives us a glimpse into European police practices, and more than hints at how deeply Islamist groups have burrowed into Western European countries. Specifically, the Dutch have learned that Bouyeri's group had connections with
a Moroccan Islamist militant, imprisoned in Spain, who has been identified as Abdeladim Akoudad aka Naoufel.... Naoufel allegedly is a member of a Moroccan Salafist-Jihadist group established by so-called “Afghan Arabs” who returned to Morocco. This group has been dubbed the Moroccan Islamic Fighting Group (GICM or al-Jama`ah al-Islamiyya al-Muqatila bi’l- Maghrib), and it is suspected that members of this group formed the terrorist network that launched the Madrid bombings (M-11).
The Netherlands, Afghanistan, Morocco and Spain, all tied together through Naoufel. More significantly, Naoufel had ties with the al-Qaeda elite:
According to Le Monde, Naoufel maintained ties to prominent jihadist-leaders and people belonging to the “al-Qaida hardcore”. Allegedly, he also was frequently in contact with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is seen as the leader of the Islamic resistance in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi is known to have coordinated the activities of at least one active terrorist cell in Western Europe, and he is suspected of coordinating a broader network of Islamist terrorists operating in multiple European countries, but mainly in Italy, France, the UK and Germany.
Not only does the Norwegian report trace the actual ties between the Van Gogh murderer and jihadists throughout Europe and the Middle East, it also explores his motivations. The usual evil sludge of hatred and resentment, including now-familiar paranoic anti-Semitism, seem to be all the motive Muhammad Bouyeri needed:
The notes pinned to the body of the victim indicated that the murder was mainly motivated by events in Holland, and that it was part of a broader conspiracy aimed at killing several Dutch politicians who have criticized Muslims living in the Netherlands and called for tougher immigration laws. The document lashed out against Dutch policies towards Muslims and Islam in general, as well as a concrete proposal by Hirshi Ali’s party VVD, to “screen” Muslim immigrants to make sure they did not sympathize with radical ideologies. The author(s) of the letter voiced strong anti-Semitism, and argued Dutch politics is “dominated by Jews”. The claim was exemplified with reference to the Jewish mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen. The letter accused Hirshi Ali of being part of a Jewish conspiracy aimed at “terrorizing Muslims and Islam”, leading a “crusade against Islam”, on the “political arena of Holland”.
The report relies on both published sources and, despite its unclassified status, private communications with Dutch intelligence officials. Spend half an hour this weekend and read the whole thing.
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