Incident Summary:

11/02/2004: Filmmaker Theo van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death while cycling on an Amsterdam street. Around 8:30 a.m. Mohammed Bouyeri fired several shots at van Gogh, approached him and stabbed him several times, cut his throat with a knife, and stuck a note on his chest with a second knife. Bouyeri was shot in the leg and a policeman was wounded in a shootout following the attack. Bouyeri was taken into custody. The note attached to the victim was an open letter to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch politician who had worked with van Gogh on a film critical of Islam. The letter included death threats to Hirsi Ali and others, calls for holy war, and was signed "Saifu Deen alMuwahhied," or "the unifying sword of religion." A second note found on Bouyeri indicated that he considered himself a martyr and was prepared to die for his faith. Authorities report that Bouyeri is part of a radical Islamic group they call the Hofstad Network that is responsible for the assassination.




Western Europe

region/u.s. state:

North Holland


Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Assassination
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Private Citizens & Property
Name of Entity
Specific Description Theo van Gogh, filmmaker
Nationality of Target Netherlands
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage No
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Firearms Unknown Gun Type
Melee Knife or Other Sharp Object
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Doubt Terrorism Proper (more) No
Additional Information In July 2005 Mohammed Bouyeri was sentenced to life in prison without parole after he confessed in court to the murder and expressed that he would do it again given the opportunity.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Hofstad Network No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 1
Number of Captured Perpetrators 1
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 1 Fatalities / 2 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 1
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 2
Number of U.S. Injured 0
Number of Perpetrators Injured 1
Sterling, Toby, "Dutch police arrest eight suspected Islamic radicals in filmmaker's killing," The Associated Press, November 3, 2004.
Deutsch, Anthony, "Letter at murder threatens Dutch official," Associated Press Online, November 4, 2004.
Sterling, Toby, "Men arrested in van Gogh murder belong to one militant group; Syrian spiritual leader vanishes," The Associated Press, November 13, 2004