Skip to Content

Shooter Tanis. Photo: Utrecht police
Utrecht

Turkish suspect detained in Utrecht terror attack which killed 3

A Turkish suspect wanted for killing three people in Utrecht, in the Netherlands on Monday morning has been arrested. The Dutch national coordinator for counterterrorism called it a "terrorist attack".

Published: March 19, 2019, 11:59 am

    Read more

    Police held a news conference on Monday evening, confirming three shooting deaths and five injured, three of which are in a serious condition.

    At the news conference, Dutch police officers were taken by surprise by news of the arrest of 37-year-old Gökmen Tanis, which came as the media briefing was ending. Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus confirmed that Tanis had been “known to the police” but refused to give further details about the circumstances of the arrest or the motive of the shooter. The attacker has a criminal history and recently appeared in court on rape charges.

    “This was an attack on people on a tram, and that is unprecedented in the Netherlands,” he said.

    The national coordinator for counterterrorism and security, the NCTV, however increased the threat level in the province of Utrecht to 5, the highest threat level in the Netherlands. According to the NCTV spokesman Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, the incident in Utrecht has all the characteristics of a terrorist attack.

    All mosques in the city were reportedly closed. The Ulu Mosque closed after close consultation with police, a spokesperson for the religious center told De Telegraaf.

    Meanwhile, security was increased at sites across The Netherlands, as NCTV kept the threat level at 4 countrywide. Additional security measures were seen at Schiphol, the public broadcast center in Hilversum, as well as Parliament.

    The attack took place on and outside a tram on Monday morning in the Kanaleneiland area of the city.

    Eyewitnesses of the shooting said that the gunman appeared to target a woman and then turned his gun on several people who were trying to drag her to safety. One man, Jimmy de Koster, told RTV Utrecht that he saw a young woman lying on the floor. “I heard three shots and four people ran towards her and tried to drag her away. Then I heard more shots and the people let her go. It was chaotic.”

    Another, Danny Molenaar, who was sitting at the front of the tram told broadcaster NOS that the tram stopped suddenly on a bend. He said he looked outside and saw a woman lying on the ground. He saw a man with a gun approaching the group that had formed around the woman and heard shots.

    Utrecht mayor Jan van Zaanen said a lock down on the city had been ordered because of earlier reports that shootings had taken place at various locations in the city. It was lifted later in the afternoon.

    The Red Cross also launched a website for Utrecht residents to let their loved ones know that they are safe.

    PVV leader Geert Wilders said the motivation of the shooter was irrelevant: “Whether the motivation for the suspect Turk is relationship-related or terrorism, how can someone with a criminal record full of crimes from manslaughter to theft, destruction and rape roam free and shoot innocent people with a weapon in a tram?” He added that the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte should explain himself.

    Gökmen has a lengthy criminal record. People who know the suspect also describe him as a man with “mental problems”. Wilders blamed the uncritical acceptance of a multicultural society for the shootings.

    According to the BBC report, the Turkish-born Gökmen was still young when he left for the former Soviet Union republic of Chechnya to participate in the “holy war”, the Second Chechen war that raged from 1999 to 2009. Chechnya is a well-known location for jihadist training camps.

    The police were able to report last night that the main suspect was arrested in a house on Oudenoord. “The investigation has so far revealed no relationship between the main suspect and the victims,” the police said. According to Wilders, it is the clearest indication that it was a terrorist attack, since Tanis did not know his victims.

    A Turkish businessman residing in Utrecht told BBC Türkçe that the shooter Tanis had “fought in Chechnya“ and that a “few years ago was arrested and released for his connection to ISIS. He was not a part of the Turkish community [in Holland], he was a outcast,” he added. Turkish Hurriyet newspaper, also reported that Tanis had participated in the hostilities in Chechnya.

    But Dutch mainstream media questioned the jihadist past of Gökmen. The suspect was not considered radicalized by the intelligence services, they claimed. Chechens often appear on the radar because they are seen as people with a high risk to national security.

    The Public Prosecution Service would not elaborate on the past of the suspect. People who are detained on suspicion of rape usually stay in custody because of the seriousness of the crime. But Gökmen was set free two weeks later and according to the police then launched the attack on the tram to Utrecht.

    Justice officials declined to make a statement on his unexplained release. “We have released his name and distributed a portrait to facilitate the search. We will stick to that,” a spokeswoman for the OM said.

    The counselor who assists Tanis in the rape case, Mireille Veldman, said on Monday evening that she would not make any announcements either.

    In the Kanaalstraat in Utrecht where many Turkish shopkeepers have their business and where many say they know Tanis, he is best known as a “confused” individual.

    The father of Tanis told the Turkish news agency Demirören that his son must pay if he is the perpetrator. He is a child from his first marriage. “I haven’t spoken to him in eleven years,” he added.

    The tram doors would not immediately open after Tanis had opened fire on the tram at 24 Oktoberplein, according to one witness. Journalists first at the scene reported seeing a body covered by a sheet, according to NOS.

    “The conductor couldn’t get the doors open immediately. Two boys next to me kicked a window out, through which I fled outside. More people did that.”

    Local resident Jimmy de Koster said he saw a young woman lying on the ground. “I think she’s between 20 and 35 years old.”

    Consider donating to support our work

    Help us to produce more articles like this. FreeWestMedia is depending on donations from our readers to keep going. With your help, we expose the mainstream fake news agenda.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Europe

    Instability in Northern Africa: AFRICOM brigades, Russian planes and Syrian jihadists

    TripoliOn May 30, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) released a statement in which its commander, Stephen Townsend, expressed to Tunisian Defence Minister Imed Hazgui readiness to deploy the US Security Force Assistance Brigades in Tunisia, citing concerns about Russian activities in Libya.

    Security and privacy experts sound the alarm on contact tracing apps

    The terrorist acts of September 11, 2001 became the starting point for massive surveillance of the world's citizens, and not least in Western countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

    Maghreb singer accuses French police of blanket racism

    ParisFor the deputy of the National Rally in France, the speech of the singer Camélia Jordana on Saturday evening claiming she is afraid when she sees a police officer, is a typical example of the excesses of the cultural left: They prefer to defend the delinquents rather than the police.

    Provocative statements from Turkey against Greece continue

    IstanbulThe Turkish Minister of Defense, Hulusi Akar during his visit to a Turkish naval base, spoke of "harassment in the Aegean" in recent days, which he described as a "very serious challenge", adding that he could not "explain them".

    The controversy over hydroxychloroquine intensifies

    WashingtonAmerican scientists concluded in a study that chloroquine was ineffective against Covid-19. The release of the study coincided with bad news about the US drug Remdesivir.

    Deaths in Swedish nursing homes hidden by municipalities

    In the "humanitarian superpower" Sweden, the management of the Covid-19 pandemic by public health authorities has defied the most basic sense of medical ethics.

    German politician: ‘Why should we risk our relations with China?’

    BerlinDr. Maximilian Krah, member of the European Parliament for the Eurosceptic Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and Vice Chairman of the EP China Friendship Group in an exclusive FreeWestMedia interview.

    Senior European WHO official predicts second deadly virus wave

    LondonAccording to information from a British daily, a senior European official of the WHO predicts that a second peak of the virus outbreak could coincide with outbreaks of other infectious diseases.

    Thousands demonstrate in Germany against confinement

    BerlinThousands of Germans demonstrated nationwide again this weekend against Corona confinement requirements. Citizens who are afraid for their jobs, rallied alongside extremists and opponents of vaccination.

    Covid-19 information ‘better on YouTube than in traditional media’

    MarseilleThe world-renowned French virologist from Marseille, Prof Didier Raoult, believes that he is being identified as a "fake news" propagator because he discloses information buried by the mainstream media.

    Go to archive