Terror Trial Samir Azzouz
The public prosecutor suspects Samir Azzouz of plotting attacks on key installations including Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, the Parliament and Defence Ministry in The Hague, the headquarters of the security service AIVD in Leidschendam and the Borssele nuclear power plant.
He was arrested in Rotterdam in June last year following an armed robbery at a supermarket. Shortly after his arrest the Dutch government instituted a terror alert in certain parts of the country. The alert status has yet to be rescinded.
Police found building floor plans to Schiphol, Borssele and the other targets in Azzouz home in Rotterdam.
A silencer for a gun, two ammunition clips, night-vision goggles and a bullet-proof vest were also discovered as were ammonia and hydrochloric acid, chemicals that are sometimes used to make bombs.
The suspect faces charges of plotting attacks, illegal possession of weapons and robbery at the supermarket. If convicted of the main charges, this would be the first time anyone has been found guilty of plotting terror attacks in the Netherlands.
Another charge of membership of a terrorist organisation is pending as the police investigation into the Hofstadgroep continues.
A dozen young Muslim men were arrested as part of this investigation following the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh last November. His suspected killer, Mohammed Bouyeri, 26, was allegedly on the periphery of this group and is also being detained.
News service NOS reported that Azzouz 's trial heard on Thursday that police secretly recorded telephone calls the suspect made while in custody.
During a telephone call with another terror suspect Jason Walters, Azzouz allegedly spoke about the police discovering the building plans. "I almost had a heart attack," he is supposed to have said.
Walters and another man were arrested following a 14-hour standoff with police in The Hague about a week after Van Gogh's murder. The incident started when hand grenades were thrown at police officers who were trying to get into a house to arrest the two men.
In a second telephone call, this time to his wife, Azzouz allegedly described television picture scenes of the school siege in the Russian town of Beslan in North Ossetia last year as a "great party".
He first came to the attention of the police in January 2003 when he and another schoolboy left Amsterdam to walk to Chechnya. They had apparently wanted to join Muslim insurgents who were fighting the invasion by Russian forces.
Hampered by very cold conditions, the boys were discovered on the Russian border and returned to the Netherlands before they got to the war-torn republic. In a newspaper interview in 2003, Azzouz said he was disappointed that his mission failed. He said he was not afraid to die: “I was prepared for everything also retaliation”.
But his lawyer Victor Koppe says there is no evidence that Samir Azzouz was preparing for attacks in the Netherlands. “Radical thinking is not a punishable offence in The Netherlands. Is also does not say anything about preparation operations”.
Azzouz and four other men were arrested in October 2003 and charged with plotting terrorist attacks. They were later released due to lack of evidence. So far, there has never been any body convicted for terrorist crimes.
The current trial continues on Friday.
Sources: Telegraaf, Expatica, AD