Six alleged Muslim radicals with links to the murderer of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh go on trial today accused of plotting terrorist attacks on Dutch politicians and government buildings.
The main suspect, 20-year-old Samir Azzouz, was acquitted last year on terrorism charges but re-arrested in October 2005 on suspicion of planning attacks against politicians and the Dutch intelligence service headquarters.
Mr Azzouz has been linked to the so-called Hofstad Islamic extremist group led by Mohammed Bouyeri, who was sentenced last year to life imprisonment for the November 2004 murder of Mr van Gogh – an outspoken critic of Islam.
Nine members of the group were jailed for up to 15 years in March for membership of a criminal and terrorist organisation. Mr Azzouz has not been formally charged with belonging to the group.
The Dutchman of Moroccan origin has been in the sights of the Dutch authorities since 2003 when he made a failed attempt to travel to Chechnya to join the separatist war there.
He was arrested in October 2003 on suspicion of planning to manufacture a homemade bomb but was released for lack of evidence.
In June 2004 he was re-arrested after police said they found chemicals, plans of government buildings and maps. He was again acquitted after an appeals court found that his “clumsy” plans did not represent a solid threat.
Prosecutors now say they have stronger evidence that Mr Azzouz and the other five suspects were planning an attack, including a video testament.
Dressed in Muslim garb with a machine gun leaning against the wall behind him, Mr Azzouz is shown saying: “We must prepare to die today.”
“I say to you that between us and you there will only be the language of the sword until you leave Muslims alone,” he warns the Dutch population, according to prosecutors.
The trial is to be held in a high-security court near Amsterdam, nicknamed the bunker, and is expected to run until early November.