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Netherlands: Retrial of Hofstad Group

(Feb. 22, 2010) It was reported on February 2, 2010, that the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, located in Amsterdam, has ordered the retrial of alleged terrorist plotters, the Hofstad Group, whose members have been connected with the murderer of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. The suspects, described at “radical Islamic Dutch youths of North-African origin,” were acquitted in 2008; their group was dismantled in 2004, after van Gogh's murder. (Court Orders Retrial of Dutch Terror Group, RADIO NETHERLANDS WORLDWIDE [RNW], Feb. 2, 2010, available at

The high court ruled that the definition of a criminal terrorist organization used by a court in The Hague was too narrow, and that “[i]t was wrong to acquit the suspects only because their group did not meet the legal definition of what constitutes an organization.” (Id.) The Hague court had contended that the group's structure was too loose to meet the criteria for conviction; accordingly, it cleared Jason W. (who is the son of a U.S. citizen), the main suspect, and six others of the charge of belonging to a terrorist and criminal organization. It also ruled that there was insufficient evidence to show incitement to hatred on the suspects' part. Jason W. was convicted on other charges, however, and is serving a 15-year prison term. (Id.; Dutch Jail 'Terror Group' Muslims, BBC NEWS, Mar. 10, 2006, available at

The Dutch intelligence service reportedly dubbed the network of young Islamic militants the “Hofstad Group” after the nickname of The Hague (Hofstad). (RNW, supra; Retrial for Terrorist Case, RNW, Feb. 3, 2010, available at