Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Theo Van Gogh

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. 

Theo Van Gogh's body, crime scene
Theo Van Gogh's body, crime scene

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.

Mohammed Bouyeri, mugshot
Mohammed Bouyeri, mugshot

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.


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