Mohammed Bouyeri

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Mohammed Bouyeri
Bouyeri.jpg
Bouyeri in 2004
Born (1978-03-08) 8 March 1978 (age 36)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Criminal charge
Murder, terrorism
Criminal penalty
Life without parole
Criminal status
In prison

Mohammed Bouyeri (Arabic: محمد بويري‎) (born 8 March 1978) is a Dutch–Moroccan Islamist and convicted murderer. He is serving a life sentence without parole for the assassination of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh. He holds both Dutch and Moroccan citizenship. He was a member of the Hofstad Network.

Life[edit]

In 1995, Mohammed Bouyeri finished his secondary education. He changed his major several times and left after five years without obtaining a degree.

A second generation migrant from Morocco, Bouyeri used the pen name "Abu Zubair" for writing and translating. On the Internet he often posted letters and sent e-mail under this name.

At an early age he was known to the police as a member of a group of Moroccan "problem-youth". For a while he worked as a volunteer at Eigenwijks, a neighbourhood organization in the Slotervaart suburb of Amsterdam. After his mother died and his father re-married in the fall of 2003, he started to live according to strict interpretations of Islamic Sharia law. As a result he could perform fewer and fewer tasks at Eigenwijks. For example, he refused to serve alcohol and did not want to be present at activities attended by both women and men. Finally, he put an end to his activities at Eigenwijks altogether. He grew a beard and began to wear a djellaba. He frequently visited the El Tawheed mosque where he met other radical Muslims, among whom was the suspected terrorist Samir Azzouz. With the group of radicals he is said to have formed the Hofstad Network, a Dutch terrorist cell. He claims to have assassinated van Gogh to send a warning to excommunicated Somali-Dutch politician Ms. Ali, in a note which he left pinned to Van Gogh`s lifeless body with a knife after having shot him. Serving as witness in another court case involving the Hofstad group in May 2007, Bouyeri for the time expressed in more depth his thoughts regarding Islam. Here he said that armed jihad was the only option of Muslims in the Netherlands and that democracy was always a violation of Islam because laws cannot be produced by humans but only by Allah.[1][2]

Assassination of Theo van Gogh[edit]

The 26 year old Bouyeri assassinated Van Gogh in the early morning of 2 November 2004, in Amsterdam, in front of the Amsterdam East borough office (stadsdeelkantoor) on the corner of the Linnaeusstraat and Tweede Oosterparkstraat (52°21′32.22″N 4°55′34.74″E / 52.3589500°N 4.9263167°E / 52.3589500; 4.9263167), while he was bicycling to work.[3] Bouyeri shot van Gogh eight times with a handgun, who was hit, as were two bystanders. Wounded, Van Gogh ran to the other side of the road and fell to the ground on the cycle lane. According to eyewitnesses, Van Gogh's last words were: "Mercy, mercy! We can talk about it, can't we?" Bouyeri then walked up to Van Gogh, who was still lying down, and calmly shot him several more times at close range. Bouyeri then cut Van Gogh’s throat and tried to decapitate him with a large knife, after which he stabbed the knife deep into Van Gogh's chest, reaching his spinal cord. [4] He then attached a note to the body with a smaller knife before fleeing. Van Gogh died on the spot. [5] The note threatened Western governments, Jews and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (who went into hiding). The note also contained references to the ideologies of the Egyptian organization Takfir wal-Hijra. Six years after the assassination, in a letter to a Muslim group in Belgium, he writes that he still has no regret killing Van Gogh.[6]

Arrest[edit]

On 2 November 2004, shortly after the assassination of Theo van Gogh, Bouyeri was arrested close to the scene of the crime, following an exchange of gunfire with police during which he was shot in the leg. In his interrogations, he exercised his right to remain silent. On November 11, public prosecutor Leo de Wit accused him of six criminal acts: murder, attempted murder (of a police officer), attempted manslaughter (of by-standers and police officers), violation of the law on gun-control, suspicion of participation in a criminal organization with terrorist aims, and conspiracy to murder with a terrorist purpose Van Gogh, member of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and others.

When arrested, Bouyeri had on him a farewell poem with the title In bloed gedoopt from which it appears he intended to die a martyr. The poem contains the following lines:

IN BLOED GEDOOPT (Dutch original)
Dit is dan mijn laatste woord…
Door kogels doorboord…
In bloed gedoopt…
Zoals ik had gehoopt.
Ik laat een boodschap achter…
Voor jou…de vechter…
De boom van Tawheed is afwachtend…
Naar jouw bloed smachtend…
Ga de koop aan…
En Allah geeft je ruimbaan…
Hij geeft je de Tuin…
In plaats van het aardse puin.
Tegen de vijand heb ik ook wat te zeggen…
Je zal zeker het loodje leggen…
Al ga je over de hele wereld op Tour…
De dood is je op de Loer…
Op de hielen gezeten door de Ridders van de DOOD…
Die de straten kleuren met Rood.
Tegen de hypocrieten zeg ik tenslotte dit:
Wenst de DOOD of hou anders je mond en ...zit.
Beste broeders en zusters ik nader mijn einde…
Maar hiermee is het verhaal zeker niet ten einde.
BAPTISED IN BLOOD (English translation)
So this is my final word…
Riddled with bullets…
Baptised in blood…
As I had hoped.
I am leaving a message…
For you…the fighter…
The tree of Tawheed is waiting…
Yearning for your blood…
Enter the bargain…
And Allah opens the way…
He gives you the Garden…
Instead of the earthly rubble.
To the enemy I have something to say…
You will surely die…
Wherever in the world you go…
Death is waiting for you…
Chased by the knights of DEATH…
Who paint the streets red.
For the hypocrites I have one final word…
Wish DEATH or hold your tongue and …sit.
Dear brothers and sisters, my end is nigh…
But this certainly does not end the story.

Pinned to the body of Van Gogh with a smaller knife was a written warning to Ms. Ali, consisting of five pages which make mention of the Jewish political actors in Ms. Ali`s party, as well as other parties in Dutch politics. It contains repeated references to Jewish party-backers and party-leaders. The letter refers to the fundamentalist ideology of the Takfir wal-Hijra. This letter probably was not written by Mohammed Bouyeri himself, but by his group's ideologist. It was signed Saifu Deen alMuwahhied.

Trial[edit]

Bouyeri's trial took place over two days, 11 and 12 July 2005, in a high-security building in Amsterdam-Osdorp. In a letter on 8 July, he announced that he would not attend the trial voluntarily and that he did not accept its jurisdiction.[7] The Prosecutor demanded of the court that he be forcibly transported to the courthouse. This request was accepted by the court. Bouyeri's lawyers did attend the trial; they did not, however, ask questions or make closing statements. Bouyeri appeared before the court carrying a Qur'an under his arm.[8] At the trial Bouyeri expressed no remorse for the murder he admitted to having done, saying to the victim's mother: "I don’t feel your pain. I don’t have any sympathy for you. I can’t feel for you because I think you’re a non-believer." [9] and that he would have done it again. Bouyeri also argued that "in the fight of the believers against the infidels violence is approved by the prophet Muhammad".[10]

In the Dutch law system, a Prosecutor demands a punishment in a requisitoir. Presenting the requisitoir to the court took 4 hours, at the end of which the demand was presented. It read (unabridged):

The defendant rejects our democracy. He even wants to bring down our democracy. With violence. He is insistent. To this day. He sticks to his views with perseverance. This calls for a strong response. By literally placing him outside our democracy. This means that he will not be allowed to vote. This means deprivation of active and passive suffrage.
Taking everything into consideration, the severity of the facts, the underlying circumstances, and the personality of the defendant, I find only one punishment suitable and that is life imprisonment.
[11]

On 26 July 2005, Bouyeri received a life sentence without parole.[12] He is presently held in Nieuw Vosseveld prison.

Life imprisonment in the Netherlands is the most severe punishment and carries no chance of parole. Under Dutch law an early release from life imprisonment is possible only through a pardon by the reigning monarch, which is almost never granted. Excluding war criminals, Bouyeri is only the 28th person to receive this punishment since 1945. A life sentence is ordinarily seen only with multiple-homicide cases, but a new law introduced in 2004 also makes the sentence applicable for leaders of terrorist organisations. In addition, the Wet terroristische misdrijven ("terrorist crimes law", in effect since 10 August 2004), also states that, if there is a terrorist motive for a crime, the term can be increased by half. Imprisonments ordinarily in excess of 15 years can be upgraded to life imprisonment, as was the case with Bouyeri.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ian Buruma, Murder in Amsterdam: the Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance (New York: Penguin Press, 2006). ISBN 9781594201080