A “spotter” observed the 19-year-old at the time when he pulled out a knife on Aug. 31, Police Commissioner Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said. Nine seconds later, police shot the attacker in the hip.
Shortly after the man got off a train, his “abnormal behavior” came to the attention of one of a team of transportation police trained to spot terrorists.
“He called two colleagues over,” Aalbersberg said. “While they were working out how to go and talk to him, they see he starts stabbing.”
Seconds later, a police officer shot the man as he was running to stab a third person.
Motivated by Controversial Contest
The man, identified only as Jawed S., may not have expected to survive the attack, according to his lawyer. He has been treated for gunshot wounds to his lower body.
“My client appears to have made the assumption that he wasn’t going to survive his attack, because a will was found at his home in Germany,” said lawyer Simon van der Woude, according to the BBC.
He said he thought Jawed S. was motivated to carry out the attack in response to a cartoon competition depicting Islam’s Prophet Mohammad that was organized by politician Geert Wilders.
The competition was canceled the day before the attack because of security concerns, but van der Woude said his client didn’t know this.
Dutch prosecutors said Jawed S. had been “of the opinion that in the Netherlands the Prophet Muhammad, Islam, and the Koran were insulted.”
He had traveled to the Netherlands from Germany to carry out the attack. Police in Germany searched his house and seized several data carriers, according to Reuters.
US Citizens Injured
The two people injured in the incident were U.S. citizens, the U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands said in a statement on Sept. 1. Ambassador Pete Hoekstra said the pair were tourists visiting the city. They were admitted to a hospital with serious injuries, local police said.
Hoekstra told Dutch TV on Sept. 4 that it was an “attack on Western values,” according to the BBC.
“There were two victims and that is very serious, but the number was kept to a minimum,” Aalbersberg said. “Within nine seconds, it was over and the officers made the difference during one precise moment.”
In a statement, the two U.S. victims thanked the Dutch police, saying the police had been “empathetic” and “had remained by their side the entire time.”