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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Amsterdam attack suspect said insults to Islam spurred him

The Afghan teenager mentioned far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders, authorities say

Policemen and forensics at work after a stabbing incident at the central station in Amsterdam, on August 31. AFP
Policemen and forensics at work after a stabbing incident at the central station in Amsterdam, on August 31. AFP

An Afghan man suspected in last week's stabbing of two American tourists at Amsterdam Central Station said he was motivated by insults to Islam, according to prosecutors.

"The man is of the opinion that in the Netherlands 'the Prophet Mohammed, the Quran, Islam and Allah have often been insulted'," the Dutch prosecution service said on Monday.

The suspect, identified as Jawed S, 19, "had a terrorist motive and travelled to the Netherlands with that aim".

The teenager mentioned far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders, according to the prosecutor's office.

Friday's attack came a day after an announcement by anti-Islam politician Mr Wilders that he was cancelling plans for a cartoon competition to caricature the Prophet Mohammed, a plan that had angered many Muslims.

Known for his virulent anti-Islamic views, Mr Wilders on Thursday said he was nixing plans to stage the competition to "avoid the risk of making people victims of Islamist violence".

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Earlier Monday, Jawed S appeared before a Dutch judge.

He was remanded in custody and will appear again in two weeks, while police continue their probe.

Two American tourists were seriously injured when a knife-wielding man attacked bystanders around noon on Friday at the busy train station next to Amsterdam's historic city centre.

Police reacted quickly and shot the man in the lower body. He and the injured tourists, both men aged 38, were taken to hospital.

The US State Department on Sunday condemned what it called an "unprovoked, horrifying attack" and offered full support to Dutch authorities, both in their investigation and "in our common fight against terrorism in all forms".

The wounded American men remained in a satisfactory condition in hospital Monday, according to Dutch media.

German police on Saturday raided the suspect's home, which Dutch newspapers said was located in the western Rhineland-Palatinate state.

A German Foreign Ministry official on Monday confirmed the suspect was an asylum seeker who was appealing a decision to reject his claim. The man had a German residency permit.

German police had no information linking the alleged attacker to any terror groups, the official said.

The Netherlands has been largely spared the kind of terror attacks which have rocked its closest European neighbours in the past few years.

But amid a number of scares and reports that people linked to some of those attacks may have crossed briefly into the country, top Dutch security and intelligence officials have stressed that the threat level is substantial.

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