Muslims jailed on terror charges

Amsterdam, Netherlands - A Dutch court has convicted nine Muslims of belonging to a terrorist group because they incited hatred for non-Muslims, in a ruling that sets a framework for prosecuting potential terrorists before they act.

Two of the men were convicted of attempted murder for throwing hand grenades during a standoff with police and given sentences of 15 and 13 years.

Among the defendants was Mohammed Bouyeri, 27, the convicted murdered of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who has already been sentenced to life in prison for the November 2, 2004 murder. Bouyeri was found to be a leader of the group but judges said he could not be punished further.

The group's goal was "stirring up, and or inciting hatred, and or threatening" non-Muslims, the judges said.

"Who sows hate lays the basis for crimes that can cause grave fear," said judge Rene Elkebout, reading the ruling. Such crimes "strike at the heart of the democratic order," he said.

The heaviest sentences were given to Jason Walters -- who has an American father -- and Ismael Aknikh, who were found to have operated with premeditation when they threw a hand grenade that wounded 5 police officers on November 10, 2004.

The other members were given sentences ranging from one to five years depending on how actively they were found to have participated in the group.

The trial was seen a test for new Dutch laws making it easier to prosecute extremists and increasing penalties for terrorism-related crimes. The case was also seen as evidence of the threat Europe faces from homegrown radicals.

Most of the suspects were arrested in sweeps shortly after Van Gogh's murder.

Their lawyers said they were merely a loose group of friends who happened to share an interest in Islam and should not be found guilty for their association with Bouyeri.

Prosecutors alleged the men attended cult-like meetings at Bouyeri's home under the guidance of a spiritual leader, Redouan al-Issar, who fled the country shortly before Van Gogh's murder and is now believed to be in jail in Syria.

Evidence entered against the 13 included wiretaps gathered by the Dutch secret service and admitted into evidence under the new laws. It also included Internet chat room messages, weapons and blueprints seized in raids, al Qaeda propaganda, and farewell testaments written by some members apparently in preparation for suicide attacks.