Suspect in Amsterdam CS attack wanted to kill "cruel, unfair" people for insulting Islam

Ambulance police Amsterdam
A trauma team and police vehicle race follow an ambulance on Damrak in Amsterdam after a stabbing at Amsterdam Centraal. 31 August 2018photo: Zachary Newmark / NL Times

Jawed S., the 20-year-old Afghan man who stabbed two American tourists at Amsterdam Central Station last year, came to the Netherlands to "kill unfair and cruel people", he said during the first day of his trial at the high security court in Amsterdam on Monday. "That was the intention with which I came to the Netherlands to protect my prophet. You gave the pig the space to express himself like that", S. said, according to AD reporter Cyril Rosman's live tweets from the courtroom.

With "pig" S. referred to PVV leader Geert Wilders, was clarified after some discussion in the court room. For clarity, the court asked S. to refer to Wilders by name, but he refused. "I don't respect him. You can assume that every time I say pig, I mean him", S. said. The 'you' that gave Wilders the space to express himself, according to S., is the Dutch State. 

S. stabbed two American tourists at Amsterdam Central Station on August 31st last year. One suffered a spinal cord injury that may leave him paralyzed for the rest of his life, the other suffered severe damage to the nerves in his arm and required emergency surgery. A police officer noticed S. shortly before he committed his attack and called in backup. Three officers took him down within seconds after he started stabbing the tourists. The police shot him in the lower body to incapacitate him. The man is facing two counts of attempted murder charges, and three counts of threatening a police officer. 

The two tourists were in Amsterdam Central Station with their significant others, traveling to Germany for a wedding. They were standing at the information desk when S. attacked them from behind. In a statement that the judge read in court, one victim described feeling a hard blow. It felt like his legs were frozen and he collapsed, the victim said. 

When asked why he attacked the American tourists, S. said: "That's your fault because you didn't do anything." He repeatedly blamed his actions on the Dutch State, because the Netherlands did not stop Wilders insulting his faith. According to S., the Netherlands does not care about the victims - because the Netherlands did not stop Wilders, these people are now seriously hurt, he argued. "Why don't you leave my religion alone? Explain that to me." 

The court again asked S. about the victims, and he said that it was not his intention to stab those specific victims. "My mistake was to attack people who were not from the Netherlands." The judge asked if he wanted to attack Dutch people, but S. did not answer. "You did say that you didn't mind that the victims came from the Unites States, because that is also an enemy of your faith?" the judge asked, and S. said that was correct.

When asked about threatening the police officers, S. acknowledged that he threatened them with his knife, which he said he did not buy or "peeling potatoes", according to the AD reporter. "I didn't have the chance to do anything to the police officers, if I had the chance, I would have. I would have stabbed them with my knife", S. said. He added: "You are spoiled, you very quickly see something as a threat."

Experts from the Pieter Baan Center, where S. was sent for psychological examination, could not get a clear picture of S.'s mental health. Like he did in court on Monday, "he kept repeating certain topics", the experts said. They also could not get contact with the man's family and colleagues. "We suspect he has psychiatric issues, but can make no conclusions", the experts said. The experts spoke of "clear, strong Islamic radicalization", but could not determine whether S. has an actual mental disorder. 

"I sometimes found the conversations scary" a Pieter Baan Center expert said in the court. "No normal communication. He kept repeating the same things, the same sentences. That is not normal. A certain rigidity."