In De Hofstadgroep, Vermaat chronicles the genesis of the Dutch homegrown terrorist network known as the Hofstadgroep, whose members were behind the 2004 murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh. The book details how the Dutch-born polar opposites—Hofstadgroep leader Mohammed Bouyeri and Van Gogh—symbolize the Kulturkampf between Islamist and Western ideologies.
Vermaat focuses on Bouyeri, Van Gogh's murderer, who rejected the opportunities offered him by Dutch society and chose instead to become a "martyr" for Islam. Bouyeri's shooting and near decapitation of Van Gogh traumatized the country and forced the Dutch to acknowledge the threat of radical Islam. Until the murder, even law enforcement—which had been following Bouyeri—failed to see the danger he posed. Van Gogh's murder caused politicians to flee the country and prompted the deputy prime minister to declare, "Holland is at war."
Vermaat also traces the Hofstadgroep's ties to the international jihad network and describes how a group of young Muslims meeting in an Amsterdam apartment transformed themselves into a domestic terror cell.
His firsthand account of the trial of Bouyeri—detailing policemen tearfully recounting their shock that the killer wanted to provoke them into being his executioner—raises fears that the Dutch may be culturally and socially incapable of defending themselves against Islamists in the aftermath of what Daniel Pipes has termed "education by murder." Calling the Hofstadgroep "amateurish but dangerous," Vermaat wonders if the cell has been broken or whether Holland must expect more deadly attacks.
De Hofstadgroep is a valuable resource for law enforcement and the public, demonstrating how a jihad network evolves and operates. It also offers useful strategies on how domestic terrorists can be detected and their attacks preempted. An English translation is being planned for 2007.