Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Dutch get tougher on "terror"

TODAY'S COLUMNIST
By Lorenzo Vidino

March 15, 2006
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As events such as the Madrid and London bombings have abundantly proved, Europe has become one of the key battlegrounds of the global war on terror. Friday marked an important date in this struggle, as a court in Amsterdam issued a much-awaited verdict in the trial of the so-called "Hofstad group," the maxi terrorist cell that planned various attacks throughout the Netherlands between 2003 and 2005.

The court convicted nine of the 14 alleged terrorists, imposing sentences up to 15 years. A key member of the group, Mohammed Bouyeri, had previously been sentenced to life in a separate trial. Bouyeri reached worldwide notoriety in November 2004, when he ritualistically killed in broad daylight Theo van Gogh, the controversial Dutch filmmaker who had directed a movie highly critical of Islam's treatment of women.

The verdict represents a major victory against what Dutch intelligence agencies consider the most severe threat to the country's security, and the first successful use of new antiterrorism legislation

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