A Dutch court has used tough new anti-terrorism legislation to jail a group of Islamic militants. The nine men received sentences of up to 15 years after they were found guilty of belonging to a terrorist organisation. Several others were acquitted. The leader of the group, Mohammed Bouyeri, has already been convicted for killing filmmaker Theo Van Gogh.
His life sentence for that crime cannot be extended. The new laws, passed in 2004, are intended to allow militants to be prosecuted before attacks can be carried out. The judge said the group “spread texts inciting violence and threatening terrorist crimes.” Their defence had argued they were being persecuted for being Muslims. The murder of Theo Van Gogh shocked the Netherlands, which had always prided itself on being a tolerant country.
The filmmaker, a critic of radical Islam, was shot and stabbed as he cycled through Amsterdam. Alongside the grief there was a violent backlash that put a severe strain on race relations.