Society

Amsterdam Apple Store hostage asks for privacy

A man was held hostage in an Apple Store in Amsterdam for five hours until he ran away from the scene. He now asks for privacy and video footage to be removed from social media.

Apple store Amsterdam in Leidseplein square
Apple store Amsterdam in Leidseplein square

On the evening of Tuesday February 24, Abdel Rahman A., a 27-year-old born in Amsterdam, came inside the Apple Store located at the corner of Leidseplein square in central Amsterdam. It was about 5:30 p.m. when he walked in dressed in a camouflage suit, carried a handgun and a semi-automatic weapon, and wore explosives.

When police came on the premises after calls for a robbery in the store, he fired at least four shots at officer. The whole area was then cordoned off and surrounded by special task forces.

In the meantime, the man took a 44-year-old Bulgarian customer hostage and put a gun on his head.

Several other people escaped from the scene but four employees were still hiding in the toilets of the store. The Apple store is located in the Hirsch Building and occupies part of the ground floor and the first floor. The third floor is the office of Apple Benelux. Other companies are also working in upper floors in the building. About 70 people were confined for hours in their offices until police freed them.

Early on, the hostage-taker himself contacted authorities and demanded to receive 200 million in cryptocurrency and a free exit. He threatened to blow himself up. Explosives later proved to be harmless as they were similar to what Dutch Defense uses in practice before working with real explosives.

The hostage situation lasted during 5 hours. At around 10:30 p.m., the hostage-taker asked for water. When Dutch forces delivered water outside the store entry doors with a robot, the hostage was requested to take it.

But as he opened the door to grab the bottle, the 44-year-old Bulgarian ran away. The hostage-taker ran after him for several meters outside until he was hit down by a Dutch security car. Brought to the hospital, he didn’t survive his wounds on Wednesday.

Despite his death, investigations carry on to understand the motives of his act, which was still unclear on Friday.

Live streams of the hostage situation in the Apple store

Leidseplein is a busy square in the center of Amsterdam with the only flagship store of Apple in the Dutch capital city.

But as the Apple store has large glass doors on the street, civilians followed and reported on the situation on social media. Abdel Rahman A. could be seen holding the hostage by the neck, still carrying a gun and moving inside the building.

Moreover, as civilians recorded videos of the situation, the bold rescue move from the hostage and the fatal end of the hostage-taker have been recorded with different angle shots. Videos on social media also circulated on the surroundings of the Apple Store, showing preparations of task forces.

During their operation, Police even had to ask people to stop broadcasting live videos of the hostage situation on social media.

A little before 8 p.m. when the customer was still being held hostage, Amsterdam Police Unit on Twitter asked “people with a view of the Apple Store building to refrain from publishing images or live streams for the safety of those involved and our police efforts”. A statement repeated two hours later. Authorities also requested people to stay away from the site.

Police suspected that the hostage-taker followed reports on social media.

A statement from Namens de Familie, a organization supporting victims and relatives who have become the center of the news after personal events, said the former hostage requested “absolute peace and privacy to process the “horrific event”. He therefore decided not to answer interviews and media requests. He also called for the images of the hostage situation to be removed from social media.

Police said it will not prosecute social media platforms or live streamers and will use the images for the investigation.

The Apple Store will reopen on February 28.

A compilation of videos about the event respecting the hostage anonymity can be seen on this news website.

Read more about the Netherlands

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