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Mohammed BOUYERI





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Islamic extremist - Bouyeri's motivation to kill was likely sparked by the movie Submission and further aggravated by his hate of the western world and those who refused to accept Islamic values
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 2, 2004
Date of arrest: Same day (wounded by police)
Date of birth: March 8, 1978
Victim profile: Dutch film director Theo van Gogh, 47
Method of murder: Shooting / Stabbing with knife
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on  July 26, 2005

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Mohammed Bouyeri (Arabic: محمد بويري‎) (born March 8, 1978 in Amsterdam), is a Dutch - Moroccan Islamist, currently serving a life sentence without parole for the murder of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh. He holds both Dutch and Moroccan citizenship.


In 1995, Mohammed Bouyeri finished his secondary education and subsequently went on to the "Nyenrode College INHOLLAND" in Diemen. 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. He started to radicalize shortly after his mother died and his father re-married in the fall of 2003. The September 11 attacks and the war in Iraq contributed to his radicalization.

He started to live according to strict Islamic rules. 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 were suspected terrorist Samir Azzouz. With them he is said to have formed the Hofstad Network, a Dutch terrorist cell.

He claims to have murdered van Gogh to fulfill his duty as a Muslim. 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.


On November 2, 2004, shortly after the murder of Theo van Gogh, Mohammed 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 organisation 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.

Pinned to the body of Van Gogh with a smaller knife, Bouyeri was said to have left a second letter, consisting of five pages in which Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), and politicians in general are warned. It contains repeated references to alleged Jewish influences in politics. The letter refers to the fundamentalist ideology of the Takfir wal-Hijra. This letter probably wasn't written by Mohammed Bouyeri himself, but by his group's ideologist. It was signed Saifu Deen alMuwahhied.


The trial against Bouyeri took place over two days, July 11 and 12, 2005, in a high-security building in Amsterdam-Osdorp. In a letter on July 8, he announced that he would not attend the trial voluntarily. 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.

At the trial Bouyeri expressed no remorse for the murder he admitted to having done, saying to the victim's mother: "I donít feel your pain. I donít have any sympathy for you. I canít feel for you because I think youíre a non-believer." 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".

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.

On July 26, 2005, Bouyeri received a life sentence without parole.

Life imprisonment is the most severe punishment in the Netherlands and is always without parole. Bouyeri is only the 28th person to receive this punishment since 1945, excluding war criminals. 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 August 10, 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.


The murder of Theo Van Gogh

By Rachael Bell

Theo Van Gogh - Free-Speech Martyr

Theo Van Gogh, 47, the great grandson of art dealer Theo Van Gogh and great grandnephew of the famed Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, led an extraordinary life much like his predecessors. Theo was an out-spoken and prominent Dutch film director, author, journalist, actor, producer and an advocate of free speech who used the media as an open forum to broadcast his controversial views on religion, politics and social mores and values. The candid and often provocative method he used to express his ideologies quickly propelled him into the national spotlight in the Netherlands.

However, his critical views and brusque approach also made him unpopular among a lot of people. According to a November 2, 2004 article in, businessman and broadcaster Harry Mens described Theo as "a bit of a 'kamikaze,' who expressed his views regardless of whom he might offend." And offend he did. He harshly criticized Christianity and Judaism. However, the Muslim community bore the brunt of his irritation, which was evident when he likened Dutch Muslim immigrants to "goat f--kers."

Anger against Van Gogh reached its pinnacle on August 29, 2004 with the airing of the television film Submission on Dutch television, which was the creation of Van Gogh and controversial Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The film depicted four partially nude women in long, dark transparent veils, who had texts from the Koran written in calligraphy on their bare skin. Some of the women appeared to have reddened whip marks on their backs and legs, on which the texts were written that described the physical punishments, sanctioned by the Koran for disobedient women. Not surprisingly, the highly controversial 10-minute film sparked outrage from the Muslim community.

Not long after the release of Submission, Theo began to receive death threats. Concerned for his welfare, his colleagues urged him to hire a bodyguard for protection a suggestion which Theo initially entertained. Yet, eventually he brushed it off because he didn't believe anyone would want to target him.

Pay Back for Submission

At approximately 8:45 a.m. on November 2, 2004, an unknown assailant dressed in a traditional Moroccan "djelleba," brutally attacked Theo outside of a city council building as he bicycled to work in central Amsterdam. The attacker shot Theo Van Gogh and stabbed him repeatedly in the chest, callously disregarding his victim's pleas for mercy. Despite his life-threatening injuries, Theo was able to gain enough momentum to stumble to the other side of the street but by the time he made his way across, his attacker shot and stabbed him again. He then slit Theo's throat with a butcher knife as onlookers gasped in sheer horror.

In a final assault against his victim the attacker lodged his knife, which had a letter attached to it, into Theo's chest. The assassin then ran off through the neighborhood and into the nearby Oosterpark, where he and police exchanged gunfire. During the shootout, a motorcycle police officer and an eyewitness were seriously wounded.

Just as Theo's murderer exited the other side of the park, the police caught up with him and shot him in the leg. He was immediately arrested and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of his wounds. The attacker was eventually identified as 26-year-old Mohammed Bouyeri, an Islamic extremist with dual Dutch and Moroccan nationalities who was believed to have links with other Islamic militant groups. Investigators revealed that Bouyeri's motivation to kill was likely sparked by the movie Submission and further aggravated by his hate of the western world and those who refused to accept Islamic values.


Mohommad Bouyeri

Mohammed Bouyeri was born in West Amsterdam on March 8, 1978. He was the only son of four siblings born to his Moroccan immigrant parents. As a youth, Bouyeri studied hard and made good grades in school. According to a November 28, 2004 Washington Post article by Glen Frankel, Bouyeri's primary interest was accounting, which he studied for five years at Mondriaan Lyceum. Thereafter, he entered a higher-education technical institute south of Amsterdam in the town of Diemen, where he studied business and IT. However, after several years he dropped out of school, failing to complete his degree.

According to Frankel, Bouyeri "spent a lot of time hanging out on the streets" of Amsterdam and at some point "was arrested and imprisoned for seven months" for a violent crime. It is believed that during his incarceration, Bouyeri immersed himself in the teachings of Islam. After his release, Bouyeri began volunteer work at the Stichting Eigenwijks neighborhood center in Amsterdam. reported that he worked hard setting up group activities for area youths and also assisting the "editorial team of the neighborhood newspaper Over 't Veld." He was well liked by his colleagues and was considered by many to be a pleasant and clever young man. However, problems began to surface at work when Bouyeri underwent a radical transformation.

Toby Sterling suggested in a November 2004 Associated Press article that Bouyeri's abrupt change was likely prompted by his interest in politics and the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. It was reported in the article that Bouyeri "grew radical after the death of his mother from cancer in fall 2002." Sterling further stated that he began "wearing traditional Muslim dress" and attending services at the Al-Tawhid mosque, "where key Sept. 11 hijackers and plotters had reportedly met, including Mohamed Atta."

Bouyeri steadily distanced himself from his work and colleagues. Eventually, he completely stopped his volunteer work at the Stichting Eigenwijks. It is unclear if he took on a new job but what is known is that he devoted a large portion of his daily life to religious activities after he left the organization.

Bouyeri formed new friendships at this time with other men who shared similar extremist views. One person who Bouyeri befriended was Samir Azzouz, 18, an Islamic fundamentalist who was arrested in the Netherlands for plotting bomb attacks on Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport and the Dutch Parliament, reported in a November 3, 2004 article. Bouyeri was believed to also have formed friendships with other dangerous Islamic extremists who were under watch by the government. Surprisingly, despite his connections with Islamic militants who were allegedly under heavy surveillance, Sterling claimed that Bouyeri managed to avoid being added to the "terror watch list."

During this time, Bouyeri also joined a militant Islamic group known as the Hofstad Network. Syrian-born geologist turned spiritual leader, Redouan al-Issar, 43, also known to use the alias "Abu Kaled," headed the group. Even though Bouyeri's first known act of terrorism in association with the Hofstad Network was the murder of Theo Van Gogh, it is believed that he and the group were also in the process of plotting even more assassinations. The group's suspected targets included Ayaan Hirsi Ali and right-wing conservative MP Geert Wilders who, according to an October 2004 article, is known to be "unashamedly anti-Islam."


The Bouyeri Trial

Mohammed Bouyeri's trial for the murder of Theo Van Gogh began Monday, July 11, 2005. For the most part, Bouyeri remained silent and told his lawyer, Peter Plasman, that he wanted no part in the case. He turned his back to the judges because he does not recognize the court's authority.

Fox News reported that "Bouyeri, allegedly a member of a terrorist cell known as the Hofstad Network, is said to have attended private prayer sessions with a Syrian spiritual leader, Redouan al-Issar, who disappeared shortly before the Van Gogh killing."

There was "some evidence Bouyeri had help, especially financial help, in preparing the killing," but there are no other suspects who can be directly tied to the crime. The gun used in the murder was estimated to have cost EUR 1000, plus Bouyeri had no money of his own for living expenses.

The Guardian Unlimited reported Monday that Bouyeri "quoted Arabic prayers at judges as his trial began Monday and walked out of court holding a Quran above his head."

Judges said Bouyeri laughed and told his younger brother, Hassan: "I knew what I was doing, and I succeeded."

Rudolph Peters, Professor of Islamic Culture at University of Amsterdam told reporters: "My conclusion is that Mr. Bouyeri saw himself as an instrument of God.''

On Tuesday, July 12, the second day of the trial, Bouyeri, 27, told the court, "I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion."

Prosecutors have asked for him to go to prison for life. Bouyeri's response was ""I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do exactly the same, exactly the same."

The Khaleej Times Online reported that in his final statement to the court, Bouyeri said that he felt he owed Van Gogh's mother Anneke some explanation:

"I have to admit I do not feel for you, I do not feel your pain, I cannot. I don't know what it is like to lose a child," he said. "I cannot feel for you ... because I believe you are a nonbeliever," he added.

"I acted out of conviction not because I hated your son."

What is not clear at this time is whether Bouyeri will serve his sentence in solitary confinement. Dutch prisons have been described as "holiday camps." According to, prosecutors have sought to prevent Bouyeri from allegedly continuing to try to convert other inmates to his violent Islamist creed and from continuing to smuggle out texts inciting other Muslims to violence:

"It does not matter that his fellow inmates may not be susceptible to B.'s [Bouyeri's] brand of fanaticism. Nor does it matter that his writings may have been rejected out of hand by those who read them.

The overriding issue is who controls the prisons: the authorities or the prisoners."

Mohammed Bouyeri Sentenced

On July 26, 2005, a three judge panel in an Amsterdam court found Mohammed Bouyeri guilty and sentenced him to life in prison for the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh. He was also found guilty of the attempted murder of several police officers and two civilians wounded in the shootout and the illegal possession of firearms.

Furthermore, Bouyeri was found guilty of encumbering MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali's work in the Dutch parliament because of threats made to her life, which led to her temporary absence from work and seclusion from the public for security reasons.

During sentencing presiding judge Udo Willem Bentinck said: "The terrorist attack on Theo van Gogh has unleashed feelings of great fear and insecurity in society" and that "there is only one fitting punishment in this case and that is a life sentence," Philippe Naughton reported in the Times Online.

The sentence was the most severe possible under Dutch law for premeditated murder. The remorseless Bouyeri showed no emotion as the verdict was read, although there was relief expressed by some of Van Gogh's family and relatives.

According to BBC News, Bouyeri must face new charges of being a member of an Islamist terror network. Dutch prosecutors say Bouyeri is "a key member of the Hofstad group which was planning attacks against Dutch politicians." He would now be tried along with other alleged Hofstad members.

Twelve other cases of suspected members of the Hofstad Network are currently being reviewed and are expected to go to trial in the near future. "Though they were not accused of having links to Van Gogh's murder, prosecutors say they were plotting other terrorist attacks," BBC reported.

In the meantime, a "large majority of Dutch parliament" is trying to make sure that while in jail, Bouyeri is kept in isolation in order to prevent him from becoming a 'prison prophet,' by recruiting other prisoners as jihad fighters," said. During his imprisonment while awaiting trial, evidence including radical Islamic texts came to light, which Bouyeri allegedly used to try and indoctrinate two other prisoners. Contact with prison inmates has since been significantly reduced. Moreover, he has been prohibited from using the Internet or his mobile (cell) phone while incarcerated.

However, it is unclear whether such restrictions will be enforced throughout the duration of his sentence. The NIS (Netherlands Information Services) reported that convicted criminals have the right to "write, publish and distribute articles" but if the "texts infringe criminal law, for example when they incite hatred or sedition, the author can be prosecuted." Yet, there is a chance that Bouyeri's indoctrination of the two prisoners might not be taken into account since they occurred prior to sentencing. Thus, he could start his prison sentence off with a 'clean slate" free again to spread messages inciting hate until he is caught. Even if he is caught the NIS said that "no further sentence can be imposed on him for any future criminal offence" according to Dutch law. Consequently, steps are being taken to change current laws in an effort to prevent Islamic extremists from recruiting while in prison. This is especially important now that it has come to light that one of the 7/21 bombers in London embraced a violent Islamic creed while in jail serving a 5-year sentence for mugging.



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