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Guest Column

Extreme Measures: Inside the Mind of an Islamic Terrorist

By alexander Rubin
Friday, July 15, 2005

In a trial that has the potential to shape Holland’s future, the self-confessed killer of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh publicly spoke out on Tuesday for the first time since his murder, arousing feelings of frustrated rage and building fear in Europeans throughout the continent.

With a Koran held in his hand, Mohammed Bouyeri turned his chair to look his victim’s mother straight in the eye and said to her "I don’t feel your pain. I don’t have any sympathy for you. I can’t feel for you because I think you’re an infidel." He praised allah and the prophet Mohammed before admitting to the killing and explaining his motivation.

Mr. Bouyeri has admitted to shooting and stabbing Theo van Gogh to death in broad daylight in November. He then nearly decapitated the Dutch filmmaker and attached to the corpse a five page handwritten note declaring holy war and threatening the life of a Muslim feminist, driving a knife through his victim’s chest to keep it in place.

He went on to explain that he had felt respect for Mr. Van Gogh, since he recognized another man who acted on his convictions, and that his murder of the man was motivated by his own religious convictions, surprising many who thought van Gogh’s murder had been in response to a film he had made seven months earlier, depicting fundamentalist Islam’s poor treatment of women.

"I want you to know that I acted out of conviction and not that I took his life because he was Dutch or because I was Moroccan and felt insulted."

Wearing a long robe and a black and white checkered headscarf to express his solidarity with the Palestinian intifada, Mr. Bouyeri explained that he took "complete responsibility for [his] actions" and "acted purely in the name of [his] religion."

However, he insisted that he thought his action was right and assured the court that should the opportunity arise again, or should he be set free, he would "do exactly the same, exactly the same."

He seemed to hint that he was a martyr, expressing to police "I shot to kill and be killed. You cannot understand."

Stunned by the brutality of the crime, and the cold blooded and calculated comments made by Mr. Bouyeri, many court spectators surged to their feet in horror at his comments. Since the crime, the formerly passive and tolerant Dutch have began to worry that the unassimilated and poor Muslim immigrants in their midst could lead to extremist lobby groups and terrorists in their own backyards.

Their fears are not entirely without justification. The Bouyeri case has presented much to fuel their fears. Though in his youth police knew him as a problem, he nonetheless completed secondary school and went to college for several years. He was known as a moderate and well-educated Muslim and participated in a community organization. However, in 2003, he underwent a rapid and life changing conversion to radical Islam, triggered by the death of his mother and his father’s remarriage.

He grew a beard, stopped volunteering, began dressing in a robe, stopped serving alcohol and refused to attend functions where both men and women would be present. He began attending the El-Tawheed mosque, known for its radicalism, where he associated with other suspected terrorists and even, it is suggested, formed the Hofstad network: his own terrorist sleeper cell.

When he was captured in an intense gunbattle with Dutch police, covered in van Gogh’s blood, a poem he had written and intended as his last words ("these are my last words/riddled with bullets/baptized in blood/as I had hoped.") was found in his pocket.

Besides threatening death to an undefined "enemy" , it encouraged Muslims to arise against the infidels, saying that ‘the Tawheed tree is waiting/yearning for your blood", and threatening moderates with "for the hypocrites I have one final word/wish DEaTH or hold your tongue/and sit/" and casting himself as a martyr "dear Brothers and Sisters, my end is nigh/but this does not end the story."

a cultural war seems to brewing between hardline Islamic orthodoxy and the values of Western liberalism. and if Bouyeri’s example is any indication, the results will be chilling.

alexander Rubin is a freelance columnist living in Toronto

[email protected]

Canada Free Press, CFP Editor Judi McLeod