Police have confirmed the identity of the main suspect in the violent killing of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, and have released evidence that indicates the murderer was part of a larger network of Islamic extremists who committed the crime in retaliation for a film van Gogh created criticizing the treatment of Muslim women. Van Gogh received several death threats after the release of this film, titled Submission, which portrayed the life of a Muslim woman who was forced into a violent arranged marriage. Van Gogh described the film in a television interview as “intended to provoke discussion on the position of enslaved Muslim women,” Salon reports. According to Salon.com, the killer impaled a letter into van Gogh’s chest with threats against Somali refugee Hirsi Ali, a liberal parliamentarian and activist for women’s rights within the Netherlands’ Islamic community, as well as van Gogh’s collaborator on Submission.
The Washington Post reports that Dutch intelligence began watching the suspect, Mohammed Bouyeri, and the other young Muslims he associated with, dubbed the “Hofstad Network,” after they began meeting with Syrian militant Abu Khatib. Dutch police have since issued an international warrant for Khatib’s arrest. Bouyeri was questioned by police last year when their crackdown of the Hofstad Network began, according to the Washington Post, but was later released because Bouyeri was considered a “peripheral figure.”
Van Gogh, grandson of the brother of famous painter Vincent Van Gogh, also wrote a book that attacks Islamic militancy and accuses Muslim leaders of preaching hatred of women.