Rotterdam terror suspect could get 8 years in prison

Lady Justice (Picture: Twitter/@danvelton). (Lady Justice (Picture: Twitter/@danvelton))

The Public Prosecutor demanded eight years in prison against suspected terrorist Jaouad A. from Rotterdam. The 31-year-old man is charged with preparing for a terrorist crime. "Was he a typical Rotterdam criminal or a potential attacker who wanted to sow death and ruin? We think the last one", the Prosecutor said in court on Thursday, AD reports.

A. was arrested in Rotterdam in December last year based on information from intelligence agency AIVD that he was in possession of explosives. In A.'s home and cellar, the police found a Kalashnikov, ammunition, a jihadist flag, and 288 cobras - a dangerous and illegal type of firework. In the Rotterdam court on Thursday, the Prosecutor also revealed that A. watched dozens of jihad videos, including videos of beheadings, had 298 ISIS videos on his hard drive, and belonged to several social media news groups focused on the terrorist organization. 

The charge against A. is also based on a conversation recorded by the AIVD, in which several people can be heard talking. It was not revealed when the conversation was recorded. According to the Prosecutor, A. can be heard taking about the possibility of an attack on the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam. "It's a 500 meters walk from my house. I always see Turks going in. You can shoot there or throw something in. I can do it. But those people inside are just Muslims." After that, there is a discussion about whether innocents may be victims of an attack.

A. told the court that this discussion was part of a longer talk about the news and attacks in general. "It is taken out of context", he said, according to the newspaper. He emphasized that he was not planning to commit an attack at all. He also claimed ignorance about the Kalashnikov found in his cellar. According to him, several people had a key to get in there. And he had the 288 cobras to trade. Why there were documents on his computer explaining how to make a bomb from fireworks powder, he could not say. "I do not know those documents."

The suspect acknowledged that he read about terrorist organization ISIS. "I was curious. I want to know what the reasons are for people to do things. Knowledge is power. That does not mean that I agree with those things", he said. According to him, the ISIS flag the Prosecutor talks about is a painting with the seal of the Prophet on it. "For me that has nothing to do with ISIS. I also bought it in 2014 before all the misery started with attacks. And it hasn't hung on the wall for a long time."

An interesting extra detail about this case, is that self-proclaimed online terrorist hunter Jimmy F. claims he tipped the AIVD off about Jaouad A., according to AD. F. from Zevenbergen was arrested earlier this year in connection with a terrorist threat to the Maassilo in Rotterdam. 

A. says he doesn't know F. at all. A.'s lawyer, who did not mention Jimmy F. by name, said he initially wanted to question him, but decided against it as to not further delay this process.