Back in November, I wrote on the murder of Theo Van Gogh and concluded that it was far more than the actions of a small group of misguided fanatics but was instead an act carried out by al-Qaeda as part of a far more sinister plot aimed at destabilizing the Netherlands. Now, courtesy of the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, which are kind enough to publish their findings in English in marked contrast to some other countries I could name, we get a professional evaluation of the killing.
This is my summary of the Norwegian report, with their findings in bullet form and my comments (if any, since this is a really good report) beneath. I substitute "al-Qaeda" for "Islamist militants" at various points in my summary of the report since, as the report itself notes, this is who they are talking about.
- Theo Van Gogh was killed by 26 year-old Dutch Moroccan Mohammed Bouyeri (Abu Zubair) on 11/2/2004 while the filmmaker was riding his bike through the middle of Amsterdam. In addition to being a filmmaker, Van Gogh had also been a TV producer, talk show host, and a self-described "radical libertarian" and "provocauteur."
Does anybody know if "libertarian" means the same thing in the Netherlands that it means over here?
- Bouyeri shot Van Gogh, stabbed him with a butcher's knife, slit his throat in a ritualistic manner, and then tried to behead him. When this failed, he nailed to letters to Van Gogh's body with a second knife, one of which called for jihad and the fall of the US, Europe, and the Netherlands as well as specifically threatening a Dutch Somali politician and mentioning other Dutch leaders who have criticized Islam and Muslims in Holland.
- After Bouyeri was arrested, Dutch authorities described it as the first Islamic terrorist attack in the Netherlands.
- The note pinned to Van Gogh's body was written in Dutch and entitled "Open Letter to Hirshi Ali." Ayan Hirshi Ali is a female Dutch Somali politician, a self-proclaimed ex-Muslim, an MP for the right-wing Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (People's Party for Liberty and Democracy, VVD), and the author of the screenplay for Van Gogh's film "Submission," which deals with the topic of domestic violence against Muslim women.
- Another VVD MP known to be critical of Islam, Geert Wilders, has recently been threatened with beheading by a radical Islamist website for insulting Islam. Both Ali and Wilders have been placed under police protection since the Van Gogh killing.
- Since the Van Gogh killing, the Netherlands has been engulfed in a wave of violence that has led to more than 20 arson attacks against mosques, churches, and schools in which Muslims and non-Muslims have used violence against one another, with the majority of attacks being carried out against Muslim targets. Opinion polls after the Van Gogh killing show that 40% of Dutch citizens hope that Muslim immigrants "no longer feel at home in the Netherlands" and that more than 80% want tougher restrictions against immigrants.
I'm the first one to condemn what is essentially mob violence and what happened in the Netherlands following the Van Gogh killing is certainly worthy of condemnation. On the other hand, one of the reasons that the townspeople are up in arms is that the Dutch political class has simply refused to address the issue of Muslim immigration and the subsequent issue of immigration. If respectable people aren't willing to take up these issues, then the not-so-respectable people will, hence we get arson and the like in the wake of the Van Gogh killing. Another point to be addressed is that it seems to be a not-uncommon opinion among the chattering classes in the Dutch Muslim community that the Van Gogh murder was a Good Thing, the first time that Muslims have actually had the fortitude to stand up to all those racist Dutchmen spitting on their religion. That's a problem too, and one that the Dutch Muslim community has been equally negligent in addressing.
- At first glance, the Van Gogh killing appears a spontaneous, religiously-motivated murder promptly by the release of his film "Submission." However, Dutch investigators believe that the killer belonged to an organized group that subscribed to Islamist ideology and supported al-Qaeda in its war against the United States and its allies. This group planned political assassinations in order to advance that cause and the Norwegian researchers have run their information and conclusions by a Dutch intelligence official in order to verify the reliability of their work. The bottom line is that murder of Theo Van Gogh cannot be reduced to the spontaneous act of a religious fanatic who was acting alone.
- The Norwegian analysis holds that the motivations behind the killing went far beyond the release of "Submission" to being nothing less than a desire to escalate the conflict between al-Qaeda and the US and its allies - Van Gogh was simply a target of convenience because of the recent release of his film. Bouyeri believed that Muslims in Holland and around the world are under attack as a result of the war on terrorism and carried out the killing in the context of an escalation of the conflict in Iraq and renewed law enforcement efforts against Dutch members of al-Qaeda and allied groups.
- The following patterns are typical in al-Qaeda terrorist cases post-2000: target selection and method of assassination, the assassin belonged to an organized group of North African Islamists consisting of second-generation immigrants, the group operated mainly in the Netherlands but also across state boundaries, and maintained international contacts. Investigations have revealed that Bouyeri's group have been linked to terrorist activities in several European countries as well as Morocco and may have planned assassinations in Portugal in addition to the Netherlands. Bouyeri was a bright, integrated second-generation Moroccan immigrant who became involved in terrorism after 9/11 when his mother died of cancer and he failed at his goal of establishing an immigrant youth center in his hometown.
- Bouyeri supported the Iraqi insurgency and two members of his group may have planned to assassinate the former Portuguese prime minister during the 2004 European soccer championship. As both the Netherlands and Portugal sent troops to Iraq and Van Gogh killing occurred as US forces mobilized in preparation for an attack on Fallujah, events in Iraq likely motivated Bouyeri and his group to strike when they did.
- Bouyeri attacked Van Gogh at 8:45 am as he was riding his bicycle in Linaeusstraat near the Oosterpark in central Amsterdam. He cycled his victim several times, then got off his bike and shot Van Gogh repeatedly with an automatic pistol.
- Van Gogh was knocked off his bike by the gunshots but managed to cross the street, heading towards a public building for shelter even as he begged Bouyeri for mercy. One of the notes pinned to Van Gogh's body read, "There will be no mercy for the wicked, only the sword will be raised against them" in Dutch. Following Van Gogh across the street, Bouyeri shot the other man several more times, then slit his throat with a butcher's knife. He tried to decapitate him, but when that failed he took out a smaller knife and used it to pin two letters he had written to Van Gogh's chest. His task complete, Bouyeri walked back from the murder site to Oosterpark.
- Police from a nearby station followed Bouyeri into the park and a shootout ensued in which Bouyeri, a police officer, and a bystander were injured. Bouyeri was immediately taken into custody and during the search of his body it was discovered that he was carrying a "last will" in his pocket that read, "So these are my last words ... riddled with bullets ... baptized in blood ... as I had hoped," indicating that he did not intend to survive any encounter with the police that resulted from the killing. The will, written in Dutch, was entitled "Baptized in Blood" and urged other Islamists to conduct "martyrdom operations," assuring them that Allah would give them a garden in Paradise. The will was written in a typical Dutch rhyming style, indicating that Bouyeri was fully assimilated and familiar with Dutch traditions - he wanted to explain to the general public why he had killed Van Gogh and what he had hoped to achieve in doing so.
- The MO of the Van Gogh killing is not typical of al-Qaeda attacks (which generally strive for maximum casualties), but nor is it atypical. The Egyptian Islamic Jihad assassinated Anwar Sadat and al-Qaeda members did kill Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and US diplomat Lawrence Foley in Jordan in 2002. Moreover, since the beginning of the Iraqi insurgency, al-Qaeda and allied groups in Iraq have repeatedly abducted and beheaded a number of civilians.
- Strategic and tactical al-Qaeda literature published online discusses under what circumstances assassinations should be pursued during the course of jihad, for example the kidnapping and mass murder of innocent schoolchildren in Beslan in September 2004. The Algerian GIA has also used assassinations against Algerian secularists in Algeria and France, but this is the first time that such an attack has occurred in the Netherlands.
- Mohammed Bouyeri was born and raised in the largely Turkish and Moroccan Slotervaart suburb west of Amsterdam. Bouyeri's parents immigrated from Morocco to Holland, while Mohammed and his 3 sisters were all born in the Netherlands. No information exists on his upbringing, as the family has not spoken with journalists since the killing and many of his closest friends are now detained by Dutch authorities.
- Neighbors have described the Bouyeri family as quiet and stated that they attended a moderate mosque, while Bouyeri himself has been described as a good boy who was gentle and cooperative, a promising second-generation immigrant to Holland.
- Bouyeri attended Mondrian College where his teachers described him as a B-level student and later went on to study accounting and IT at a technical education institute in Diemen, south of Amsterdam. While studying, he spent much of his time on the streets of Slotervaart. A number of his friends have claimed that he had problems controlling his temper and was at one point arrested for 7 months for violent behavior.
- During this period, Bouyeri became angry and frustrated due to political issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, supported Hamas, and studied their suicide bombings in detail. He became more religious (converted to Wahhabism?) while in prison and the death of his mother from breast-cancer may have contributed to his radicalization. He seems to have been inspired from the 9/11 attacks, after which he began wearing traditional Islamic clothing, growing a beard, and becoming involved in social activism and community issues.
If I recall correctly, during the video in which bin Laden is seen gloating over the 9/11 attacks one of his lieutenants favorably relates an account of the growth of Islam in the Netherlands.
- After getting of jail, Bouyeri became interested in social work rather than accounting and started volunteering at the Stichting Eigenwijks community center and organized events in which local politicians had to engage in town hall-style meetings with neighborhood youths. He also wrote for the center's bulletin and had a dream of setting up a similar center back in Slotervaart and tried to lobby support for this idea with the Dutch parliament and the Amsterdam city council, but they declined to finance his ideas.
- After his plan to create a youth center in Slotervaart failed, Bouyeri became more and more radical as well as obsessed with Iraq. While his earliest articles called for cross-cultural and cross-religious tolerance, by early 2003 he had begun comparing Dutch police to Nazis, using sexual insults against American troops in Iraq, and stating that they deserved to be beheaded. By the summer of 2003, he had come to regard the Netherlands as "the enemy" for its participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom and declared Ayan Hirshi Ali "an apostate and enemy" in the center's bulletins. These statements, coupled with his attempts to ban the sale of beer at the center and forbid women from attending the events he organized, met with disapproval by the center's organizers and he soon quit working there and returned to Amsterdam.
- In Amsterdam, Bouyeri was recruited into an al-Qaeda cell that met twice a week at a house he rented at 27 Marianne Philipsstraat in the Geuzenveld-Slotermeer district of Amsterdam. There, the group listened to religious sermons by Syrian Islamist preacher Ridwan al-Issar (Abu Khatib). A number of al-Issar's followers had been under surveillance by the Dutch secret service AIVD for more than 2 years and the group was known as the Hofstad Network since a number of the cell members lived in Hofstad, i.e. the Hague.
- Bouyeri had been questioned by police at one point in 2003 but was released, as he was not considered an important member of the group.
- Al-Issar vanished from Holland the day of the Van Gogh killing and his current whereabouts are unknown, though Dutch intelligence believes he may have returned to Syria. Other members of the Hofstad Network have been detained or questioned in connection with the attack.
- How Bouyeri joined the Hofstad Network is still unclear, though it is likely that he was met by a recruiter during an alienated or transitional period of his life. A report by Dutch secret service director Sybrand van Hulst states that terrorists impress youths who hold to romanticized notions of Islamic terrorism. After striking up friendship, the recruiters tell the youths that established mosques are too lax and that they need to isolate themselves from the rest of society in order to take part in jihad, which is an Islamic duty, with martyrdom being its highest achievement. After that, youths are subjected to jihadi videos and go to readings, conferences, and summer camps as well as chat rooms and bulletin boards that reinforce the notion that jihad is the highest calling. The finest phase of this indoctrination usually involves recruits being asked to write a martyr's testament similar to that found on Bouyeri.
- The Hofstad Network planned both local and international terrorist attacks. Its members were largely second generation Dutch Muslim immigrants of North African origin.
- Of the first 8 suspects arrested following the Van Gogh killing, 6 were Moroccan, 1 Algerian, and 1 of dual Spanish-Moroccan ancestry.
- On 11/10/04, Dutch police arrested another 3 members in a major anti-terrorism operation in which the suspects barricaded themselves inside their home and threw a grenade at authorities, badly injuring 2 officers. After a 15-hour seige, police pumped tear gas into the building before storming it and arresting the suspects.
- A total of 13 suspected members of the Hofstad Network have been arrested in connection with the Van Gogh killing, 6 of whom have been cleared of being involved in the actual killing but remain charged with membership in a terrorist organization.
- Dutch Interior Minister Johan Remkes states that the Hofstad Network began showing conspiratorial behavior in 2003 and planned assassinations against Dutch politicians critical of Islam and/or Muslim immigrants as well as bombings against a number of high-profile targets, including the Borssele nuclear reactor.
- The Hofstad Network maintained extensive international contacts, communicating with one another and jihadis abroad using the Internet and cell phones as well as clandestine meetings. After Bouyeri joined the group, they met twice a week in his house. 3 members of the network attended terrorist training camps in Pakistan, while 2 others attended al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.
$10 says that camp in Pakistan was run by the Lashkar-e-Taiba. You interested, Robi?
- Ridwan al-Issar was the spiritual leader of the group. He applied for asylum in Germany in 1995, but was eventually rejected. While living in Germany, he went to discotheques, drank beer, and watched porn movies. He was arrested in Aachen in 1996 for possession of heroin and hashish and moved to the Netherlands in 1998, filing an asylum there as well. While that asylum was pending, he stayed at two different asylum centers in eastern Holland and turned to Islam as the solution, studying al-Qaeda literature on the Internet until he felt competent enough to start giving lectures on the Koran at Dutch mosques. At one of these mosques, al-Tawhid in Amsterdam, he met Bouyeri and the rest of the Hofstad Network and became their spiritual leader. After his asylum request was rejected he went underground but continued to guide the network and travel back and forth to Germany using forged documents. As a result of this practice, in January 2003 he was arrested in Germany but returned to Holland, where he was arrested yet again in November 2003 and extradicted back to Germany. Somehow, he managed to return to Holland and was in-country on the day of the Van Gogh murder. Al-Issar may not even be his real name, as the Dutch media has reported that he stole the identity of a jailed member of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and may well have had past experience fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Chechnya.
A real international man of mystery, no? Ignoring the question of how he got away from the cops (and Europe if he was in any of those 3 places between 1998-2003!) so many times, this guy seems to have had quite checkered past to him. And as the report notes earlier, Mohammed Atta, Ramzi Binalshibh, and Marwan al-Shehhi all went to al-Tawhid once during an Islamist conference so it seems to be a pretty good place to meet up with all sorts of unsavory characters. I'm not the Dutch secret service, but I'd be watching like a hawk who goes in and out of the place.
Also, I had previously thought that al-Issar = Ismail from the Milan wiretaps. Looks like that isn't the case, since Ismail was supposed to have been active in the Netherlands since the 1970s and al-Issar had only been there since the late 1990s.
- Bouyeri probably had a more important role in the Hofstad Network than was previously recognized, which is why they all met at his house. He seems to have been the communications coordinator for the Network, was very active on the Internet, and hosted an MSN group where he used the handle Abu Zubair and wrote articles about Islam, translating the writings of Abu Ala Mawdudi and Sayyid Qutb. An investigation into the internet lives of the Hofstad members has uncovered a group of radical Iraq-obsessed chat rooms for Dutch North African immigrants.
Mawdudi is the founder of Pakistan's Jamaat-e-Islami party, while Qutb is the brains behind modern Salafism. Looks like Bouyeri was reading all the right books for his career choice ...
- Dutch radio reported that Bouyeri was active on the Moroccan Internet forum Maghreb.nl and that he had posted over 100 messages 3 days before the Van Gogh killing using the handle rifo79 in which he hailed Iraqi jihadis as "men of courage," hoped that US troops in Iraq would be cut to pieces, and called Allawi a fat pig. It turns out that rifo79 was not Bouyeri and the user later posted a message ridiculing the Dutch media for assuming that he was Bouyeri.
- 18 year-old Samir Azzouz held a central position in the Network despite his age. He and two accomplices were arrested in November 2003 with bombmaking chemicals but were later rearrested on lack of evidence. He was later rearrested in June 2004 with more complete bombmaking chemicals as well as maps and floor plans to the Borssele nuclear reactor, Schipol Airport, the Dutch Parliament, the Dutch Ministry of Defense, and other public buildings in the Hague. He wanted to go to Chechnya to join the Arab al-Qaeda leader Omar ibn al-Khattab, but was stopped in 2002 in the Ukraine en route to Russia and was forced to return to the Netherlands.
- Bouyeri befriended Azzouz when he first came to Amsterdam from Slotervaart and the two were seen together in 5 apartments that were used by the Network.
- Ahmed Hamdi was the Network's treasurer and played a role similar to that of Said Bahaji in the 9/11 Hamburg cell, administering finances, paying for rent, communications devices, and wiring cash to Hofstad members who traveled abroad.
- Outhman Ben Ali was the Network's mole inside the AIVD. Working as a translator for the Dutch secret service, Ben Ali leaked transcripts of wiretaps of Network members as well as to the followers of Hassan Outhman based in Utrecht.
- The group's members who traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan were Jason Walthers (19), Ismail Akhnikh (21), and Zakaria T (21). Akhnikh was the group's bombmaker, having received training in Afghanistan, while Walthers flew right back to Holland from Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
- The son of an African American and a Dutch woman, Walthers converted to Islam at 16 and became radicalized after encountering racism in school. He joined the Hofstad Network and went to Pakistan and Afghanistan for terrorist training. Returning to the Netherlands, he and his brother Jermaine were expelled from their El Fath mosque in Amsterdam for their extremist views and imposed a strict code of religious discipline while in the home of their divorced mother, who soon left the house to live with her daughter. After their mother's departure, the brothers moved to Amsterdam.
- Holland-based al-Qaeda cells have been active in both Jamal Beghal's Takfir wal Hijra network whose plots were partially conceived in Holland. Nizar Trabelsi's cell provided Beghal with forged documents and other support activities in his plans to attack the Kleine-Brogel airbase in Belgium. While Bouyeri had no ties to either Beghal or Trabelsi, one Spain-based member of the Hofstad Network had dealings with both.
- The Norwegian researchers believe there is a substantial al-Qaeda support network in both the Netherlands and Belgium. In addition to the Trabelsi cell, in June 2003 the Dutch authorities began to investigate a group of Islamists based around a scuba diving school run by Kasim Ali, an Iraqi national.
- More than 40 suspected terrorists or terrorist recruiters have been arrested by Dutch authorities since 9/11. The Dutch secret service believes that there is a hard core of 150 al-Qaeda operatives or "mujahideen" based in the Netherlands who are not members of specific groups but rather are bound to them by common ideology. Al-Qaeda is steadily taking root in Dutch society by recruiting alienated second-generation Muslim immigrants in mosques, cafes, and prisons.
- The Hofstad Network had contacts with other suspected al-Qaeda members in Morocco, Belgium, Switzerland, and Saudi Arabia. Terrorists arrested in October 2003 had exchanged coded communications with Abdeladim Akoudad (Naoufel), a Moroccan terrorist imprisoned in Spain. In Akoudad's calendar police found encoded telephone numbers for members of the Hofstad Network.
- Akoudad is a member of a Moroccan jihadi group founded by Moroccan Afghan Arabs who returned home after the Afghan War and have been dubbed the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (al-Jamaah al-Islamiyyah Muqatila bil Maghrib), members of which perpetrated the 3/11 bombings. Moroccan authorities believe that Akoudad was involved in the Casablanca bombings, which were perpetrated by another group, Salafi Jihad. Spanish intelligence, however, sees little reason to differentiate between the two Moroccan groups, as the both share the same ideology and al-Qaeda ties.
- Akoudad maintained ties to the al-Qaeda leadership and was in frequent contact with Abu Musab Zarqawi, who is believed to be coordinating a terrorist network in Italy, France, the UK, and Germany.
- Investigators are now probing ties between the Hofstad Network and a group of Moroccan terrorists known as "the Martyrs of Morocco" (Shaheed al-Maghrib) who were arrested in Madrid in October 2004 while planning an attack on the Spanish National High Court and the Santiago Bernabeu soccer stadium. The Martyrs had made arrangements to acquire 1,000 kgs of the plastic explosive Goma 2 Eco, which was also used in 3/11.
They came damn close to succeeding, too. If they had, all the evidence and information that top Spanish anti-terrorism judge Baltazar Garzon had come up with on al-Qaeda over the last 4 years would have gone up in flames, along with Garzon himself.
- The Martyrs' leader was Mohammed Ashraf, an Algerian terrorist currently under arrest in Switzerland who was regularly in contact with both Spanish al-Qaeda members and key individuals in the Hofstad Network, Bouyeri among them. One of the Martyrs, Abdul Ghaffar Hashemi, held a Dutch passport, while another, Mourad Yala, was a friend of Samir Azzouz who had been arrested in Holland in October 2003 for document forgery. Spanish investigators believe that Hashemi and Yala were trying to disguise bombs as laptops to be used in terrorist attacks in the Netherlands.
- In June 2004, Portuguese police disrupted an al-Qaeda cell in Porto that was planning to assassinate EC president-designate Jose Manuel Durao Barroso and several foreign guests during a reception at the Freixo Palace the night before the opening match of the Euro 2004 championship soccer tournament. Portuguese intelligence has since learned that 3 members of the Hofstad Network traveled to Portugal in a VW Golf registered in Bouyeri's network.
- Another Holland-based terrorist has been identified as Nouredine el-Fatmi. Upon searching el-Fatmi's apartment, Dutch police found a "martyr's testament" stating that he wanted to die in jihad. The el-Fatmi network regularly collected cash at the Lisbon International Airport and were expelled from Portugal as soon as their presence was discovered. The Norwegian reseachers believe that the el-Fatmi network was part of the same Dutch al-Qaeda support network that included the Hofstad Network.
- All information concerning the motivations of the Van Gogh killer and his accomplices comes only from analysis and deduction; more information will likely be forthcoming at Bouyeri's trial.
- The Network members all believed that the war on terrorism confirmed the views and ideology of bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, and Abdullah Azzam. Therefore, since Islam is under attack by the West it is the duty of every Muslim to participate in jihad.
- The more immediate motivations were anger at tougher immigration policies, public criticism of Islam, Dutch counter-terrorism efforts, and anger at the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Bouyeri's determination that the Netherlands was "the enemy" was due in part to the presence of Dutch troops in Iraq.
- While Bouyeri was likely angered by the film "Submission," it is worth noting that the note left on Van Gogh's body was addressed to Ayan Hirshi Ali, not Theo Van Gogh or his film. Most likely, he was seen as a "substitute" target for Hirshi Ali and neither Van Gogh nor his film were of any particular importance to Bouyeri's larger agenda or worldview. By killing Van Gogh, Bouyeri saw himself as sending a message to Hirshi Ali and her party colleagues in preparation for their own assassinations.
- While some investigators believe that the letter reflects the influence of Takfir wal Hijra, French anti-terrorism judge Jean-Lois Bruguiere views Takfir wal Hijra as more of an ideology than a clearly defined group as it appears in Europe. While the letter to Hirshi Ali did deckare her apostate, this does not necessarily mean that Bouyeri was a Takfiri. Indeed, Hirshi Ali self-declared "ex-Muslim" who has on occasion stated that the Prophet Mohammed was a pedophile, so deeming her apostate would not have been a controversial move for most Dutch Muslims. Thus, Bouyeri's motivation for attacking Hirshi Ali seems to have been ideological, not religious in nature.
- The MO of the Van Gogh killing does not exclude al-Qaeda involvement and indeed, the presence of the "martyrdom testament" is certainly suggestive of this. Given the close contact between the Hofstad Network and the Moroccan groups involved in the Casablanca bombings and 3/11, it would have been bizarre if it wasn't an al-Qaeda attack.
- The Hofstad Network may have planned its attacks in Holland and Portugal as an al-Qaeda response to events in Iraq, as Bouyeri's radicalization was accelerated by Operation Iraqi Freedom and the intended manner of Van Gogh's death (decapitation) may have been intended to emulate those beheadings that have been carried out by Abu Musab Zarqawi.
- The note left on Van Gogh's body suggests that domestic events in the Netherlands were the motivations behind the killing, in particular the death threats against Dutch politicians who had criticized Islam or Muslims immigrants and called for tougher immigration laws. In particular, the note lashes out at a proposal by Hirshi Ali and the VVD to screen Muslim immigrants for radical ideology before allowing them to enter the country. Bouyeri also claimed that Dutch politics was dominated by Jews, with a particular reference to Job Cohen, the Jewish mayor of Amsterdam, and claimed that Hirshi Ali had was part of a conspiracy against Islam.
- Bouyeri's letter also threatened VVD leader Jozias Van Aartsen and a number of other VVD MPs. A video posted on pro-jihadi websites showed machine guns and then pictures of Hirshi Ali and Geert Wilders with text beneath them calling for their beheading. Death threats against both politicians similar to those posted on Maghreb.nl were found on the computer of Jason Walthers.
- The claim of a Jewish-led global conspiracy against Islam is a major theme in Abdullah Azzam's writings.
- Bouyeri's background is consistent with that of al-Qaeda members Jamal Beghal, Kamil Daoudi, and Jamal Zougam and clearly fits the profile for second generation immigrant al-Qaeda recruits.
- Al-Zawahiri has called for attacks against US allies in Europe since at least 2002.
- Because Bouyeri's explicit support for the Iraqi insurgency, it is possible that he and the rest of the Hofstad Network planned their assassination campaign as a retaliation for the impending US assault on Fallujah. Because of Fallujah's importance to the Iraqi insurgency as well as its role as the purported lair of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the prospect of its destruction at the hands of the US and its allies likedly played a role in Bouyeri's decision to assassinate Theo Van Gogh.
- The killing of Theo Van Gogh was not the work of a lone fanatic but rather the deliberate work of an ad-hoc group of al-Qaeda supporters that viewed the world within the context of the network's global jihad.
- Dutch authorities believe that the relevant motivations for the killer were a combination of Dutch immigration and counter-terrorism policies as well as the Israeli-Palestinian, Chechen, and Kashmiri conflicts.
- Statements by prominent figures regarded by al-Qaeda as "insults against Islam" may leave them open to assassination campaigns or at least as potential targets for such an attack.
- That the killing of a prominent figure has led to a rise in violence, xenophobia, and further alienation of Muslim immigrants from Dutch society is likely to be viewed by al-Qaeda as a positive development, as victims of any one of the above three are likely to be more receptive to the network and its ideology.
- From a counter-terrorism perspective, police and intelligence services must be aware of multiple social, political, and religious motivations, some of which may occur well outside the area in which they are active and can serve as "triggers" for terrorist attacks, such as the US assault on Fallujah.