Hofstad Network

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The Hofstad Network (in Dutch: Hofstadnetwerk or Hofstadgroep, Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɦɔfstɑtnɛtʋɛrk] or Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɦɔfstɑtxrup]) is an Islamist terrorist organization of mostly young Dutch Muslims of mainly North African ancestry. The name "Hofstad" was originally the codename the Dutch secret service AIVD used for the network and leaked to the media. The name likely refers to the nickname of the city of The Hague, where some of the terrorists live.

The network is said to have links to networks in Spain and Belgium. Among their contacts is Abdeladim Akoudad, also known as Naoufel, one of the suspects of the Casablanca Attacks. The group is influenced by the ideology of Takfir wal-Hijra. Redouan al-Issar, also known as "The Syrian" is the suspected spiritual leader of the group. Most media attention is attracted by Mohammed Bouyeri, sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering Dutch film director Theo van Gogh and by Samir Azzouz, suspected of planning terrorist attacks on the Dutch parliament and several strategic targets such as the national airport and a nuclear reactor. The group is also suspected of planning to kill several members of government and parliament.

History[edit]

The Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service AIVD dubbed the group Hofstad Network for internal purposes in the fall of 2002. The name was first publicly used by the Dutch Prosecutor's Office on 10 November 2004, after a police raid in the Antheunisstraat in The Hague.

On 14 October 2003, Samir Azzouz, Ismail Akhnikh, Jason Walters and Redouan al-Issar were put under arrest for planning a terrorist attack in the Netherlands, but were released soon after. Azzouz was eventually tried in this case, but acquitted for lack of evidence in 2005: he did possess what he thought to be a home-made bomb, but having used the wrong type of fertilizer the device would never have exploded.

Shortly after the murder of Theo van Gogh by Mohammed Bouyeri in November 2004 the organization gained attention from national media when an attempt to arrest suspected members Jason Walters and Ismail Akhnikh led to a 14-hour siege of a house in The Hague. During these events, the name Hofstad Network became public and the media has continued to use this moniker to refer to the organization. In the months after the siege, a number of other suspected members of the organization were arrested. On 5 December 2005, the Hofstad court case against 14 suspected members started.[1]

On 10 March, the court convicted nine of the 14 suspects of being member of a criminal terrorist organisation. The other five suspected member were acquitted of this charge.

In the meantime, Samir Azzouz, Jermaine Walters – suspected but not incarcerated – and another 5 members were arrested on suspicion of preparing an attack against (yet unnamed) national politicians and the building of the General Intelligence and Security Agency AIVD on 14 October 2005. In this separate case Nouredine el Fahtni is also a suspect.

On 1 December 2005, Samir Azzouz was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Trial[edit]

On 10 March 2006, the court of Rotterdam, dependency The Hague, meeting in a protected courtroom in Amsterdam-Osdorp put forth the following verdicts:[2][3][4]

Mohammed Bouyeri was already serving a life sentence at the time and could not be further punished. Jermaine Walters was exonerated from making a threat against former Dutch Parliamentarian Hirsi Ali.

Jermaine Walters, Nadir Adarraf, Rachid Belkacem, Mohamed El Bousklaoui and Zakaria Taybi were freed.

Second Trial[edit]

On 23 January 2008, the appeals court of The Hague overthrew the verdict, and acquitted many of the suspects, stating that they found no evidence for the existence of the Hofstad network :Verdict.[5][6]

  • Jason Walters - 15 years incarceration
  • Ismail Akhnikh - 15 months incarceration
  • Nouredine el Fahtni - acquitted
  • Yousef Ettoumi - acquitted
  • Zine Labidine Aourghe - 18 months
  • Mohammed Fahmi Boughabe - acquitted
  • Mohamed el Morabit - acquitted
  • Ahmed Hamdi - acquitted

Members[edit]

  • Mohammed Bouyeri

Born 1978; suspected leader of the group; convicted to a life sentence without parole for the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh.

  • Redouan al-Issar, aka "The Syrian", aka sheik Abu Khaled

Born sometime between 1955 and 1965; suspected spiritual leader of the group; currently wanted by Dutch authorities for his role in the network; possibly incarcerated in Syria.

  • Samir Azzouz

Born 1986; tried and acquitted of planning terrorist attacks in 2004; currently also a suspect in a second case of terrorist activity, together with Nouredine el Fahtni. Sentenced to 9 years imprisonment.

  • Jason Walters, aka Abu Mujahied Amriki

Born 1985; threw a hand grenade when police attempted to arrest him and Ismail Akhnikh, causing a 14-hour siege of their house in The Hague in November 2004; brother of Jermaine. Sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. The appeals court upheld the verdict.

Born 1983; arrested after a 14-hour police siege in The Hague. Sentenced to 13 years imprisonment.

Carried a loaded machine gun at the time of his arrest, possibly on his way to kill politicians Geert Wilders and/or Ayaan Hirsi Ali; arrested in the summer of 2004 on suspicion of plotting an attack on then prime minister Barroso; currently also a suspect in a second case of terrorist activity, together with Samir Azzouz. Sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, acquitted by the appeals court.

  • Jermaine Walters

Born 1986; brother of Jason, acquitted.

  • Yousef Ettoumi, nicknamed "Semi" and "Bommetje" (little bomb). Sentenced to 1 year imprisonment, acquitted by the appeals court.
  • Ahmed Hamdi, sentenced to 2 years imprisonment, acquitted by the appeals court.
  • Zine Labidine Aourghe, sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, the appeals court upheld the verdict.
  • Mohamed el Morabit, sentenced to 2 years imprisonment, acquitted by the appeals court.
  • Nadir Adarraf, acquitted
  • Zakaria Taybi, acquitted
  • Rashid Boussana
  • Mohamed el Bousklaoui, acquitted
  • Racid Belkacem, acquitted
  • Mohamed Boughaba, sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, acquitted by the appeals court.
  • Roël van den Burgt

VARA[edit]

  • On 18 May 2006, a group of four young men delivered flowers to the Dutch public broadcaster VARA.[7] The flowers included a note, "greetings, the Hofstadgroup," which was a 'thank you' for the VARA Zembla documentary broadcast the week prior, on the topic of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's asylum background. Jermaine Walters was said to be one of the men.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Dutch documentaries[edit]