THIS morning on an industrial estate near the NDSM shipyard in Amsterdam a 41-year-old businessman was shot dead as he prepared to interview a man for a job.
The victim, Reduan Bakkali, had committed only one “crime”. He happened to be the brother of 30-year-old Nabil Bakkali, who the Dutch justice system trumpeted a week ago as the first key witness to turn states evidence and help solve some of the murders in a wave of liquidations in the Netherlands and abroad known as the Mocro Maffia war.
At the heart of this wave of murders is the trade in cocaine and the money to be made from it, yet until now the restrained Dutch nation has yet to be galvanized into real action against the ultimate perpetrators of these crimes; those ordering the murders. A number of the killings have been cases of mistaken identity.
The planning of this latest atrocity was stunning in its brazen quality. Last week the Dutch judiciary announced Nabil Bakkali had entered witness protection and had already made a significant number of statements about the people behind the wave of killings which include those of Martin Kok, the crime blogger and others.
On Monday an Interpol alert was issued for the arrest of the leaders of the organised crime group which Nabil is to give evidence about. Ridouan Taghi, believed to be one of the leaders, remains a fugitive from the law, yet it appears was still able to orchestrate this flagrant snub to the rule of law from a hideaway somewhere abroad, probably South America.
Today Nabil’s brother Reduan was shot in the head at close range by a man who had answered a job advert and was being interviewed by Reduan Bakkali. There is little doubt that the killing was carried out as a warning message to those who are thinking about becoming witnesses or who cross the leaders of organised crime groups.The message was simple: “If we can’t get you, we will target your relatives.”
This is the same criminal code which saw innocent Dutch teacher Gerard Meesters murdered in November 2002 after his sister had stolen a batch of drugs belonging to British crime lord Robert Dawes. In that case, the Dutch justice system has, so far, failed to bring the man who ordered that murder to justice.
Questions will now be asked in the Netherlands at the highest levels as to why Nabil’s brother himself was not protected even if, as it’s been reported, he had asked for minimal security measures.
As one prominent Dutch journalist told me today: “This is exactly the kind of incident you see in any Narco state. Amsterdam has become like the Miami of 1970s United States.”
The real question which needs to be answered is what solutions does the state have to tackle the cancerous growth of an organised crime disease which has gone far beyond affecting just those villains in its grip.
DUTCH-MOROCCAN criminal Naoufal Fassih will be stepping out onto the tarmac at a Dutch airport in the near future after a Dublin court agreed to his extradition on suspicion of a number of crimes including attempted murder.
Key evidence which links Fassih to the attempted liquidation of another Dutch man is expected to be provided to the courts after Blackberry phones, using PGP encryption, seized during the investigation into the shooting ,were cracked by forensic teams.
The granting of the extradition against Fassih emerged in a Dublin courtroom today .
WHEN Garda detectives carried out a series of raids across Dublin last week in connection with the violent war between two rival Irish groups they didn’t expect to find a senior figure from a Dutch-Moroccan organised crime group.
Last week police officers descended on properties linked to the gang led by Christy Kinahan, the Dublin criminal known as the “Dapper Don”, who is based on Spain’s Costa Del Sol.
The raids, co-ordinated and targeted across the city, were designed to cause disruption within the ranks of the Kinahan gang and mute the current war between the Kinahan group and a group headed by Gerry “The Monk” Hutch. The feud has so far claimed at least five lives.
On April 7 at a swanky apartment filled with designer clothes in Baggot Street Lower, Dublin, detectives carrying out a pre-planned raid hoped to find evidence of the Kinahan clan, who are believed to use the €2,900 a month apartment as a safe house. Instead they found a man with a false Dutch passport and false Belgian identity papers. They also found three watches worth more than €80,000. The Dutchman was wearing trainers worth €800.
After the suspect had been arrested and fingerprinted Garda officers sent off an urgent check to Interpol. Their Dutch colleagues confirmed that the man they had arrested was 35-year-old Naoufal Fassih believed to be a senior figure of an Organised Crime Group fighting a bloody war on the streets of Amsterdam over a cocaine theft.
Fassih is understood to be a member of the criminal group led by Dutch crime boss Gwenette Martha, who was assassinated in Amsterdam in May 2014. The same group has been at war with another Dutch Moroccan group headed by Benaouf Adaoui over the theft of a batch of cocaine from Antwerp in 2012.
When Fassih appeared in court in Dublin this week, he was refused bail after the judge decided he was a “flight risk”. He has been charged with possession and use of a false passport and may face further charges of money-laundering unless he can provide evidence of his monetary income.
Judge Cormac Dunne deferred a decision on free legal aid after hearing the luxury apartment Fassih was arrested in contained three watches worth more than €80,000, as well as almost €13,000 in cash. Fassih was also wearing trainers worth at least €800.
Fassih is due to appear at Cloverhill District Court on April 22, when a decision will be taken about whether to move the case to the circuit court in Dublin. Fassih was represented in court by barrister Keith Spencer. Police said they had found two Rolex watches worth €8,350, and €35,000. A third watch found was a limited edition Audemars Piguet Royal Oak worth €40,000.
ON Tuesday, in a burnt out Volkswagen Caddy, police found the body of a 23-year-old young mechanic in a quiet residential area of Amsterdam. His head was missing. The following morning, the city had a gruesome awakening when the head of Nabil Amzieb was found placed outside a nightspot called Fayrouz which was sometimes frequented by Dutch-Moroccan gangsters. The severed head was pointing towards the window of the Shisha bar, as if looking in. It was clearly a message from the underworld.
Police believe that the horror find is connected to the ongoing war which erupted more than three years ago in Amsterdam between two Dutch-Moroccan gangs involved in the cocaine trade.
The victim is believed to have been linked to a group led by 31-year-old Benaouf Adaoui, currently in prison, who has been at war with a group led by Gwenette Martha who was assassinated in May 2014. Adaoui’s group were known to frequent the Fayrouz bar and thought to have planned some of their liquidations from confines of the venue. Some media reports have suggested that the 23-year-old victim had been planning to give evidence in a forthcoming case connected to the recent liquidations.
The authorities had recently spoken of hopes, that an end to the wave of liquidations plaguing Amsterdam – and further afield in Spain and Belgium – was in sight. It has sadly proved to be a pipe dream.
A 32-year-old man suffered serious head injuries resulting in him being paralysed and a 48-year-old was struck in the leg causing serious injuries by the automatic fire from the gunmen who were seeking a man who had apparently left the bar.
The two gunmen fled the scene in a stolen BMW driven by a third man and fired shots at pursuing police motorcycle cops before escaping.
STEFAN Eggermont was just pulling into a parking space in the dimly lit street near his Amsterdam home when the assassin came. Death came swiftly and without mercy or recognition. It was a “settlement of business” and the usual omerta code of silence would follow.
The 30-year-old father-of-one arrived in Conrad Street in his blue Fiat Punto at around 1.40am after spending the evening with brother Jordi watching Netherlands beat Brazil 3-0in the World Cup third place play-off in July this year.
Almost as soon as Stefan shut down the engine and opened his car door the assassin was upon him, riddling him with automatic gun fire. But Stefan was no gangster, he was a well-liked man working hard as a customer service manager at a web-based marketing firm. His only crime was that he lived near to and drove the same make and colour of car as the intended target.
He had become the first civilian casualty in a bloody war currently raging between two Dutch gangs over a missing £14 million cocaine shipment most of which was destined for the UK, which has now claimed at least 14 lives. When death came for him swiftly that evening Stefan was yards from his home where his partner and three-year-old child were waiting for him and yet he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Finding no criminal or other motive in Stefan’s back story, Dutch detectives now believe the intended target was the brother of a man caught up in the feud, who drove the same car, lived nearby and often used Stefan’s parking spot.
According to Openbaar Ministerie, the Dutch justice ministry which is investigating the murders, the origin to this river of blood spills from a stolen batch of cocaine in the early part of 2012, when a gang known as the Turtles, ripped off a Dutch gang in the Belgian port of Antwerp. In March of that year customs in Antwerp seized 200 kilos of cocaine but unknown to them at the time, it was only part of the load. They believe now a batch of the drug had been stolen and had begun turning up in kilo amounts, selling for a lower than usual price.
The British Connections
At least two of the victims had links to a British gangster currently at large, named Robert Dawes, who in documents written by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, has been described as a “highly significant international criminal wanted for murder in Holland and drug importation in the UK”. Dawes was named in a Dutch court as the man who ordered the murder of innocent Dutch schoolteacher Gerard Meesters in November 2002.
Mr Meesters had been targeted because the criminals believed his sister Janette and her friend Madeleine Brussen had absconded with a shipment of drugs belonging to Dawes. Dutch phone taps later picked up the British gang saying the “fucking Thelma and Louise” pair had been taught a lesson and someone had paid with their life. British man, Daniel Sowerby, a foot soldier of the Dawes Organised Crime Group, is currently serving life for the shooting but he refused to say in court who had given the orders for fear of reprisals against his own family in the UK.
Wouter Laumans, respected Dutch crime journalist and co-author of recent book “Mocro Maffia”, charting the rise of the new Dutch Moroccan organised crime gangs explained: “The seizure In Antwerp was not reported in the media until recently so the gang thought all of it had been ripped. Then all hell has been let loose. There is no doubt in my mind that a lot of this cocaine was on its way to the UK where they can get a higher price for it. These guys are working with the British without a doubt.Its like some kind of Guy Ritchie film except its not funny.”
A trusted intermediary was dispatched by the Dutch Moroccan gang. Notorious Dutch underworld boss, Gwenette Martha; previously convicted of threats to Gerard Meesters before his death, knew the Turtle gang and resolved to extract several million euros as a fine in lieu of the missing cocaine. Whatever deal he struck did not appear to meet the expectations of his employers and Martha was then in the crosshairs of the gang which had hired him, believing he had double crossed them.
A failed assassination attempt before Christmas last year was finally fulfilled in May when Martha was shot dead in an Amsterdam surburb as he came out of a kebab shop. Martha, who had taken to wearing a bullet proof vest, was two days out of police custody himself after being caught with firearms in Dam Square. Police believed he had been on his way to “liquidate” a rival boss. When he came out of the kebab shop he was hit by 80 rounds from two or more AK 47 rifles. Bullet torn brickwork and twisted metal testified to the damage to nearby restaurants, homes and cars and to the sheer luck that no bystanders had been struck by rounds from the weapon.
Wouter Laumans said: “It was a miracle that a member of the public was not hit. But the miracles ended with Stefan Eggermont being shot and there will be more cases of Stefan if more is not done to control the situation.”
Most of the cocaine coming through Antwerp, estimated by the authorities to be 200 tonnes in 2012, is bound for the UK and Ireland. Cocaine will sell at around (Euros) 50,000 per kilo in the UK compared to (Euros) 30,000 in Netherlands with wholesale prices coming down over the past 10 years.
Death visits the man known as Scarface or Scarry
A second British link to the victims emerged in August this year when Samir “Scarface” Bouyakhrichan, 36, a major figure in the Dutch moroccan underworld and believed to be one of the investors in the missing cocaine was shot dead near Marbella, Spain. Like Gwenette Martha, Dutch investigators believe “Scarface” had done business with Spanish based Robert Dawes. Bouyakhrichan was also believed to be an investor in the £300 million worth of cocaine seized in Southampton in 2011, the largest seizure to date in the UK.
Bouyakhrichan had been arrested in Spain and extradited over the tragic death of 12-year-old Danny Gubbels. In July 2010 seven gunmen using AK 47’s shot up a trailer park home in Breda, Netherlands where the Gubbels family lived after a member of the family was suspected of stealing a large batch of cocaine. A ricochet from one of the rounds fired struck Danny and killed him. Two men, including Tyrone Gillard, from Leeds, were convicted of manslaughter and are currently serving 16 years. Bouyakhrichan, who was suspected of being one of the investors in the stolen load, was released after seven days of questioning but never charged.
The death of innocence and the AK-47
The shootings have shocked the Dutch public because of the brazen nature. In several incidents the gunmen have been using AK 47’s in their shootouts; this a measure against the popularity of the bullet proof vest which several of the victims were wearing to no avail. In a failed assassination attempt in an Amsterdam cafe recently two innocent bystanders were shot causing serious head injuries in one man and leg injuries in another.
For Janke Verhagen, Stefan Eggermont’s 32-year-old partner and mother of their three-year-old boy, the joy of the summer holiday with Stefan’s parents in Spain seems a lifetime ago.
“We had come back from Spain three days earlier,” she said.”That night he wanted to see the football with Jordi and a friend. When he didn’t come back on time I sent Stefan a text. It was just before I went out to see what the sirens were about so I had texted jokingly “Hey! you still alive?” it went out at 1.37am about the time he was shot. When I got there all I could see was a body lying under a white sheet next to our car, and then I knew. It has been like being in the middle of a Godfather movie.”
Only a few days after Stefan’s murder, Omar Lkhorf, who police believe was the intended target and has now fled abroad, knocked on her door.
“He was just a boy. He was crying and totally distraught. It was genuine. He said it was meant for him and he had come home 30 minutes early that night. I was angry I thought my god, just 30 minutes and maybe it would have been a different story, ” she said. “I am coping. But people don’t seem to understand that it could so easily be their loved one. All it took for Stefan to die was to be driving the same car and living in the area. That seems crazy to me.We need a response from the public.”
Last month Dutch police arrested a 26-year-old man in connection with Stefan’s death after confirming the firearm which killed him had been found at the suspect’s home. But he has told detectives he was holding the weapon for someone he will not name. The suspect does not fit the description of the assassin and he has only been charged with possession of a firearm.
Janke added: “He will get maybe two years but who is directing these young people to do these things? They are the people that need to be caught. The silence cannot continue.”
Netherland’s Openbaar Ministerie, (OM) the equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service, which is handling the investigation, are braced for more assassinations to come. They are up against gangsters using state-of-the-art trackers and jammers to stay ahead of law enforcement. In Antwerp port they also had the ability to corrupt a customs officer, now serving 14 years and install malicious software into the ports computers to change cargo details so that they would be passed through any checks.
Last week the Dutch authorities had their first major success in what has become a huge investigation draining their resources. One of the ringleaders of one of the gangs involved was jailed for ten years for his role in the first murder which sparked the trail of killings. Benaouf Adaoui, 30, was convicted on Monday of his role in the murder of Najeb Bouhbouh.
When I spoke to the authorities a few weeks ago they were candid. They didn’t believe the killings were over. Spokesman Franklin Wattimena said: “This all started with the missing cocaine in Antwerp and the subsequent murder of Najeb Bouhbouh. We are warning all potential targets when intelligence is received as is our duty.We are also in a difficult situation because the people we are investigating have technology which is beating us. We thought the end to this feud came with Gwenette Martha’s death. That was not to be the case and we do not think it is at an end yet.”
The words of Mr Wattimena proved to be sadly prophetic at around 7.30pm (GMT) last night when 34-year-old Luana Luz Xavier was shot dead in front of her daughter and son in the street in the Amstelveen district of Amsterdam.
Brazilian by birth, she ran a successful clothes shop in Amsterdam’s Nine streets area. But more significantly she was the girlfriend of a kickboxer called Najb Himmich, who was at one time Gwenette Martha’s right hand man and, according to Dutch media sources, had taken charge of Martha’s organised crime group following his death. He had gone underground in recent months.
Wouter Laumans voiced fears that the war has now reached a new desperate level.
“So now they are targeting the wives and girlfriends of gangsters if they can’t find the targets themselves. This is a new low in the Netherlands,” he said.
THE DEATH TOLL:
October 18 2012: Najeb Bouhbouh, 34, gunned down outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Antwerp
December 29 2012: Said El Yazidi, 21, and Youseff Lkhorf, 28 were shot dead in an AK 47 wild west shootout near an Amsterdam canal in which gang boss Benaouf Adaoui survived. It was in response to the murder of Najeb Boubouh. Pursuing police were also shot at by the assassins.
March 16 2013: Rida Bennajem, 21, shot dead Amsterdam. Believed to be one of the hitmen involved in murder of Bouhbouh
May 26 2013: Souhail Laachir, 26, shot dead Amsterdam. He was involved in the finances of Benaouf Adaoui
August 24 2013: Chris Bouman, 36, involved in luring Najeb Bouhbouh to the Crowne Plaza, committed suicide in prison awaiting charges on October 18 2012 murder. Police believe he had been threatened while in custody.
February 20 2014: Alexander Gillis,30, friend of Gwenette Martha shot dead Amsterdam
March 22 2014: Mohammed El Mayouri, 30, a shooter for the Benaouf group shot dead Amsterdam
May 22 2014: Gwenette Martha, best friend of Najeb Bouhbouh, shot dead Amsterdam
July 13 2014: Stefan Eggermont shot dead in case of mistaken identity. Investigators believed that the shooters were targeting Omar Lkhorf brother of Youseff Lkhorf killed in December 2012. Omar Lkhorf drove the same car as Stefan, often parked in a similar spot and lived nearby.
August 16 2014: Derkiaoui Van Der Meijden, 34, shot dead Amsterdam. Associate of Gwenette Martha and hit man believed to be involved in the December 29 2012 shootings. Wearing a bullet proof vest he was gunned down by two men brandishing AK 47’s.
August 28 2014: Samir Bouyakhrichan, 36, head of another organised crime group and friend of Benaouf group shot dead Marbella, Spain.
September 3 2014: Massod Amin Hosseini, 26 shot dead Amsterdam. Massod was known on the periphery of both groups.
December 9 2014: Luana Luz Xavier, 34, shot dead in Amstelveen in the street as her two children stood next to her. She was the girlfriend of Najib Himmich.