AMSTERDAM, Netherlands: A man shot dead by Amsterdam police after he stabbed two officers had a history of mental problems, and had at one point been interrogated as a witness in a terrorism case, the city’s district attorney said Monday.
The man who was shot dead Sunday was identified as 22-year-old Bilal B., a Dutch man of Moroccan descent, District Attorney Leo de Wit said Monday. He said the man, who had been in a psychiatric hospital as recently as Sunday morning, was an associate of the “Hofstad Group” — a group of radical Dutch Muslims that includes Mohammed Bouyeri, serving a life sentence for the 2004 murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
In 2005 “Bilal B. had contacts with members of the Hofstad group, and there were discussion about that” with the Dutch secret service, De Wit told reporters at a news conference together with the mayor and chief of police.
“On Oct. 14, 2005, two years ago yesterday, a number of members of the Hofstad group were arrested,” he said. “At that point, Bilal was interrogated and was a subject of interest.”
But no further action was taken in Bilal B.’s case.
According to a police version of Sunday’s events, Bilal B. walked into the police station around noon (1000 GMT) in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood of western Amsterdam.
“Almost immediately, he leapt over the counter and began to stab the female duty officer with a knife,” police said in a statement Sunday.
The officer tried to escape after being stabbed in the chest, “but the man (Bilal B.) ran after her and stabbed her twice in the back. Another officer who came to her assistance was stabbed in the neck and shoulder,” the statement said.
The injured female officer then shot Bilal B. and he died later of his injuries.
Chief of Police Bernhard Welten said Monday both officers had been hospitalized with severe injuries but were expected to recover.
De Wit said Bilal B. had been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital from April-August, and had been recommitted as recently as Friday at his own request.
He was released with escorts on Sunday, but slipped their guard shortly before the fatal incident, De Wit said.
In 1998, while still a juvenile, Bilal B. was arrested for a “pretty serious” act of violence, De Wit said. He also served nine months of a 15-month sentence after being convicted of “a number” of thefts in 2003, De Wit said.