Terror suspects who targeted Amsterdam Pride Parade facing up to 20 years in prison

Gavel with lady justice in the background
Gavel with lady justice in the backgroundPhoto: SergPoznanskiy/DepositPhotos

Prosecutors in the Netherlands called on the court to convict six defendants accused of plotting a terrorist attack on Dutch soil, and to sentence them to prison terms of up to 20 years. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) recommended on Friday an 18-year prison sentence for Hardi N., alleged to have recruited the five other suspects, all from Arnhem.

Closing arguments for the defendants begin on Monday. Attorneys for Hardi N. have accused Dutch authorities of entrapment, while the other defendants have said they had no intention of carrying out an attack. 

The prosecution called it one of the most serious cases in recent memory, with the suspects accused of first targeting the Amsterdam Pride parade, and also considering carrying out assaults on nightclubs or a military base. "That is to say a major attack, in which the suspects wanted to do as much damage as possible by committing a heavy car bomb attack, and entering a festival elsewhere 'shooting at people like crazy' with Kalashnikovs," the prosecutor said. "The suspects also wanted to use hand grenades and bomb vests."

In its closing argument, the prosecution compared the foiled attack to the assault on Paris in November 2015, saying that they wanted "to cause a bloodbath in the Netherlands." According to broadcaster NOS, the prosecuting attorney said, "Those scars will never heal. They were monsters in Paris and these men wanted to follow in their footsteps."

Several of the Arnhem men were arrested after they left a holiday home in Weert on September 27, 2018, where undercover officers provided them with disabled guns and automatic rifles, and nonfunctioning suicide bomb vests. Prosecutors allege that one suspect at the hours-long meeting referred to a Kalashnikov as his "key to paradise", kissed the rifle, and cuddled it. The meeting was captured by video cameras planted by police.

"At the end of the meeting, the men talked about a farewell video they wanted to make. After they left the holiday home, the suspects were caught and detained by the police. One of them was still trying to shoot the police officers with a loaded pistol."

Suspect Waïl el B. was also accused of trying to fire on officers during his arrest. For that he should serve 20 years in prison, prosecutors said. Nadim S. and Shevan A. face sentence demands of 13 and 8 years, respectively, while both Morad M. and Nabil B. would get 15 year upon conviction if the court agrees with the prosecutor's assessment.

"They were all preparing for the end of their lives. They have said they would kill an unprecedented number, and intended to hit the Dutch way of life hard. Therefore, very heavy prison terms are inevitable."