Dutch journalist and terrorism expert Vermaat spent two years chronicling the trial of the Hofstadgroep—Holland's first homegrown terror group—which came to national attention after their leader, Mohammed Bouyeri, shot, attempted to ritually slaughter, and murdered filmmaker Theo van Gogh in November 2004 on an Amsterdam street for "insulting Islam." Vermaat's account of the Hofstadgroep trial exposes the inner workings of a domestic terror cell in the members' own words and holds interest for law enforcement, researchers, and the general public. (Nederlandse Jihad is being translated by the author into English and should be available in 2007.)
Vermaat's reportage reveals the mindset of teenage Muslims who reject the opportunities that Western democracy offers them and instead spend their time watching gruesome jihad and beheading videos while discussing martyrdom and plotting attacks on non-Muslims and Dutch institutions. He shows the limited utility of the civil court system to prosecute cases against violent Islamists who do not deign to recognize the Western judicial system. Via court transcripts, he highlights how litigation-savvy Hofstadgroep members exploited legal safeguards with the help of left-wing lawyers who called their prosecution "an attack on Islam." For example, he notes that "one defendant lied more then 20 times … and … three witnesses committed perjury."
Defense attorney Viktor Koppe shared this attitude of disdain, taking the unprecedented step of warning the judges to heed "the vox populi," i.e., the Hofstadgroep supporters in the spectators' gallery—one of whom according to Vermaat, was fond of making throat cutting gestures.
Codefendant Azzouz—who had been thrice acquitted on technicalities in previous trials and who had previously spent only a short time in jail—received an 8-year prison sentence for having made a martyr's testament (in which he said he "wanted people to feel terror"), complete with plans to attack the parliament, politicians, the airport, the Dutch security service headquarters, and a nuclear reactor. Though denounced as "chaotic" by attorney Koppe—who maintained his client's innocence—Azzouz's guilty verdict declared, "His arrest and prosecution had prevented a terrorist attack."
Vermaat's book clearly demonstrates the psychopathology of the radical Islamist mindset and its threat to the West, summed up in the judge's closing statement to the convicted Hofstadgroep defendants: "They have not shown the slightest bit of regard for human life … or a sign of recognizing the gravity and cowardice of their deeds … all of these things together bode ill for the future." Vermaat's report on the Hofstadgroep trial offers a disturbing look at young terrorists and a justice system that appears to offer plotters more protection then their intended victims.