Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Theo Van Gogh

The Terror Network

Dutch police near siege, The Hague
Dutch police near siege, The Hague

On November 10, 2004, residents of a neighborhood in The Hague were abruptly awakened by a series of explosions in the early morning hours. Not long afterwards, members of the marine's Special Forces units cordoned off the area around Antheunisstraat. It was later revealed that the explosions came from hand grenades, which were detonated during an anti-terror raid on a house where armed Islamic militants were suspected to be hiding. According to, the raid was conducted as part of the investigation into Theo Van Gogh's murder. The explosion seriously injured four officers but luckily caused no deaths. The raid eventually turned into a standoff that lasted most of the day as police tried to find a way to evict the alleged "terrorists" from a building with minimal harm to officers and area residents.

In response, a "no-fly zone was introduced over the city, banning airplanes from flying lower than 700m above the ground" and police snipers had taken position on rooftops in the neighborhood," reported on November 10th. Moreover, ambulances, police squad cars and fire trucks crowded the streets to prevent people from entering the sealed off area. Residents were evacuated from the district and those who were deemed suspicious or knew information as to the identity of the suspects were held in police custody for questioning.

Finally at around 4 p.m., the police used tear gas to flush the suspects out of the house, which put an end to the nearly 14-hour siege. Sterling said in a November 14th Associated Press article that approximately 13 Muslims, believed to have been associated with the Hofstad Network were arrested on terrorism charges. It is believed that the suspects, who include two young men with dual Dutch-American citizenship, are linked to other terror organizations including al-Qaeda.

One of those captured in The Hague siege was known to have connections with suspected terrorist Abdeladim Akoudad, who was arrested in Spain in 2003 for his alleged involvement in the al-Qaeda-funded suicide attacks in Casablanca earlier that year which killed 33 people. The suspect would be the second individual arrested in regard to Theo's murder that had known links to Akoudad. The first person to be connected with Akoudad was a suspect of Spanish-Moroccan descent, who was detained in the beginning of November, 2004. Spanish and Dutch officials are working together to establish if the men, who were affiliated with the Hofstad Network, were associated in any way to the terrorists that carried out the Madrid train bombings, some of who were believed to have been members of al-Qaeda.

Madrid train bombing
Madrid train bombing

To the surprise of many, the unfolding investigation revealed that the Netherlands appears to be a hot bed for terrorist activities. According to an article by Lesley Thomas, the Dutch security and intelligence service AIVD estimated that approximately "100 people in Holland have links to Islamic terror groups..."   Sterling stated that the Dutch government has "been shadowing as many as 200 potential terrorists since the Sept. 11 attacks." In actuality, the numbers are likely far greater. What is for certain is that the number of people being inducted into extremists groups in the Netherlands is growing at an unprecedented rate, which leaves many wondering not if but when there will be another attack on their soil.


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