The Brabant killers, also named the Nijvel Gang, terrorized the Brabant region of Belgium from 1982 to 1985. Before they were done, a total of 28 people died and 40 were injured. There was a core of at least three men, although the appearances would sometimes vary. The active participants were known as: “The Giant” (a tall man who may have been the leader); “The Killer” (the main shooter) and “The Old Man” (a middle-aged man who drove and was a lookout).
One suspect, the perceived leader of the operation, “The Giant,” was described as being between 20 and 30 years old, very tall and slender (about two meters, or 6-foot, 4 inches) with light-brown or blond hair.
The other man, “The Old Man,” looked older than the first, approximately 50 years old, with a grizzled demeanor that made him look tough as nails. He was in good shape and stood reasonably tall (around 6 feet) but was notably shorter than the other man. He had a tattoo on his forearm.
Perpetrator “The Killer,” who was the primary trigger man, was described as being in his early to mid 30s, with a medium build, black hair, thick eyebrows and a mustache.
They spoke with educated and rather proper French accents, and they utilized military tactics against gendarmerie, including sub-machine guns. The gendarmerie, despite having advanced training, were under-equipped and over-matched by these three gunmen.
For years, Belgian detectives were troubled by the professionalism of the Brabant Killers. Specifically, they noticed that these men knew how to handle weapons, thus convincing some that the gang included former or current soldiers or police.
Many, if not most, people in Belgium felt they couldn’t trust police or other officials on much of anything related to this case and for good reasons when one understands the narrative. Many believe that the Crime Syndicate compartmentalized the gendarmerie, working as a co-intel op that actually carried out the terror and bloodshed.
Recall that in the 1990s the country was subjected to more Keystone-cop incompetency (or what we at Winter Watch call “malice”) in the Dutroux case, leaving Belgians very cynical about their justice system. The Belgian gendarmerie were abolished in reforms that came as a result of a perceived poor performance in the Brabant killers case, and that of Marc Dutroux.
By the end of October 2018 — 34 years after the last-known slayings — the Federal Judicial Authorities came to the novel conclusion that the investigation had been manipulated. Last month came a revelation that a main police officer in the Brabant Killers investigation — so far only identified as “Philippe V.” — was a member of the Delta Group in Dendermonde (East Flanders) that was being investigated for destroying and planting evidence, disposing of fingerprints and running misdirection and cover ups.
One vehicle that the killers drove was sent for destruction in a wrecking yard before a forensics teams could look it over, destroying any evidence that could have been recovered. And in one case, a cigarette butt found at a crime scene was never tested for DNA. An officer was shocked that this piece of evidence was never even considered by the lead investigators.
Now, one Roger Romelart, who was also a member of the Delta Group that investigated the 1980s Brabant killings, “committed suicide” on Feb. 10, 2019, shortly after “Philippe V.” was interviewed. Romelart’s suicide note was dated Feb. 1.
We all know the refrain of the pajama people: “If it was an inside job, someone would eventually talk.” Of course, anybody paying the slightest bit of attention would know people have talked, but few bother to listen. E. Howard Hunt, James Files, Helena Stoeckly and Douglas DeWitt Bazata are just a few examples of people who have talked and have been ignored.
In the Brabant case, we have the deathbed confession to the brother of a terminally ill police officer, Christiaan Bonkoffsky. He came forward in 2017, claiming to being “The Giant.” His height fit. And below is a photo of Bonkoffsky along side a composite drawing. Nothing to see here move along?
Bonkoffsky was demoted in 1981 after he discharged a firearm in the confines of other officers while playing cowboy stunts. He spent the next several decades complaining about his victim-hood and vowing revenge — just the kind of op the Crime Syndicate is looking for. And like the aforementioned suspects, he, too, was also active at the Brigade Diane, the special unit of the Belgian gendarmerie.
As is our practice, we are focusing on the theories and suspects of this murder spree. More details on the crimes themselves can be gleaned in the following video. The shootings were gratuitous executions in which the robbery proceeds were modest and trivial relative to the extreme risks and lives taken; with wine, coffee and alcohol being the main items stolen.
The killings escalated dramatically. Bystanders were shot dead in the parking lot before the gang entered the supermarkets; other victims, including children, were shot from as close as a foot away while cowering on floors.
The gang in the first year of 1982 was not yet as lethal, but they seemed to have a game plan. On Sept. 30, 1982, three gunmen showed up at a weapons store called Dekaise Armory in Wavre, just outside of Brussels. They selected 15 firearms in total. Most were pistols of varying makes and models, but they also took five sub-machine guns.
The employees were roughed up; but when the perps left, they encountered a lone gendarmerie and shot and killed him. A road block using a vehicle was set up, but they plowed into the police car, then jumped out, weapons blazing. They wounded two police officers before speeding off.
The modus operandi of dumping their vehicles in nearby woods followed. The cars had interiors stripped and were doused in gasoline and burned, destroying almost all evidence.
The second killing victim looked targeted in some manner. This was 72-year-old Jose Venden Eynde, who was beaten and shot seven times in the head. The killers also took wine, coffee and champagne. Eynde was the caretaker of a castle and was also a veteran of the Spanish Civil War in support of Franco. He was described as a nationalist and “right wing.” For the record, when someone is described as dialectic “right wing” or “left wing,” our antenna goes up. Typically, it signals dis-info or misdirection. But the question begs on this and a few other killings: Were these contract hits of some sort?
Police speculate that sometime in the early morning hours of Jan. 9, 1983, taxi driver Angelou Constantin was murdered. Whoever pulled the trigger likely did so from the backseat of the taxi, shooting him numerous times in the back of the neck. Constantin allegedly had ties to Lebanese gangsters, something that has never been proven as fact. However, the police were investigating this angle early on.
On Sept. 10, 1983, the killers entered the textile manufacturer Wittock Van Landeghem. It seemed the perps were aware of the company’s secret contract with police to manufacture bullet-proof vests. After killing the nightwatchman, the masked men made off with seven bulletproof vests, which they would begin wearing throughout future attacks.
Throughout the investigation into finding the Brabant Killers, vital pieces of evidence would go missing. Fingerprint records taken from a SAAB 900 Turbo, one of the get away cars, would not be available when needed later and remain absent in later searches of archives.
Next was an attack on Oct. 2, 1983, at a restaurant at the Waterloo battlefield. As the restaurant was closing for the night, the gunmen showed up and forced seven employees to lie down.
After gathering up a small amount of money, the two terrorists met up outside. Employees could hear a verbal exchange between at least two men in a foreign language, not French or Dutch or a European language. They then shot Jacques Van Camp, the restaurant owner in the head multiple times, leaving the rest unharmed. So again, we have the appearance of a hit. A very suspicious narrative developed around de Camp, including that he was a right winger, which was denied by his family.
The next supermarket hit actually netted $32,000. The killers murdered the store manager and wounded three others. They grabbed a hostage but let him go as they took off. In other attacks, hostages were taken but not harmed.
On Dec. 1, 1983, the killers broke into the home and shop of Polish jeweler Jean Szymusik. Here, they engaged in a gun battle in which “The Killer” may have been hit in the vest and went down. Symusik and his wife were killed, and the terrorists made off with a small take. The unconfirmed backstory is that Symusik had Mafia ties.
After this close call, the gang laid low for over a year. When they re-emerged, the scenes were bloodbaths.
On Sept. 27, 1985, within a single hour, the killers struck two different locations, stealing almost $80,000 dollars cash. It was their first attacks in almost two years, but both went off without a hitch, resulting in eight deaths and three injured survivors.
At this point police and military put up a dragnet of security around supermarkets. But somehow the thugs found or were tipped off on a hole to exploit.
On Nov. 9, 1985, the last strike went down at a supermarket in the small town of Aalst. The thugs killed seven people in cold blood and seriously wounded eight others.
There was a terrorist group active in the Brussels area at the time that was known collectively as the CCC, which stood for Communist Combatant Cells. From 1984 to 1985, the group bombed and attacked at least 20 different targets, including NATO pipelines, large company buildings and institutes. The leader of the CCC, Pierre Carette, was arrested in December of 1985. He was given a life sentence. However, the M.O. was different, as these terrorists gave warnings to clear the area. In one bombing, two firemen disregarded the warning and were killed. Because of the M.O., I don’t think CCC were the Brabant Killers.
The top suspect for “The Killer” is Madani “Dany” Bouhouche. He was born in Brussels, the French speaking son of an Algerian father and Belgian mother.
Soon after the Aalst attack Bouhouche was arrested in January 1986 as the suspected murderer of Juan Mendez, a Fabrique Nationale weapons engineer and sales manager from Latin America. Bouhouche was released in November 1988. Once again, the victim of the French-speaking terrorists was a “right leaning” Flemish nationalist. Mendez had accused Bouhouche of stealing some of his weapons.
Soon after his release, a diamond dealer in Antwerp was murdered in 1989. Bouhouche was again arrested. He was convicted of this murder in 1995 and received a 20-year sentence. His accomplice, Robert Beijer, received 14 years. In that trial, they were also convicted of murdering a security guard in 1982.
Bouhouche is also named in the X dossiers (X files) by one of the Dutroux witnesses.
The incredibly protected Bouhouche was paroled early on Sept. 15, 2000. He moved to the French Pyrenees, where he died in November 2005, decapitated by a piece of wood while cutting a tree with a chainsaw in his garden. Like we always say, watch those power tools.
In December 1999, Beijer was conditionally released from prison and went to Thailand.
Surprise, surprise, Bouhouche and Beijer were corrupt and criminal police. The former started his police career with the Bijzondere Opsporings Brigade (BOB), a special investigative branch of the gendarmerie, the former national police of Belgium. Soon after joining the BOB, Bouhouche developed illegal activities with other gendarmerie of the BOB. In 1977, both men were promoted from the local Brussels gendarmerie brigade to the gendarmerie’s investigation department, the surveillance and search brigade ( BOB ) focusing mostly on illegal drugs. Both men left the police in 1983 in midst of the Brabant crime spree and formed a “private investigation business”.
In February 2010, Beijer published the book “Le Dernier Mensonge,” an autobiography. He states that he worked on behalf of the secret intelligence service of the army of the Soviet Union. Beijer describes freely and in detail how he was involved in certain crimes or even the brain behind them, such as the robbery of a valuables transport at Zaventem airport, where in Beijer’s account Bouhouche killed a security guard.
Beijer himself has described his actions several times as that of someone who is called “ghost” in English; or in French, “barbouze,” which is someone who has been trained in special crime techniques and intelligence and who performs assignments for secret services and other (private) clients.
These are the sketches of what appear to be “The Old Man” and “The Killer” from crime scene witnesses. Beijer was 33 at the time of the last spree in 1985. The sketch doesn’t square. The second sketch is closer. But “The Old Man” was a minor player in the spree. It really looks like four perps were involved with “The Old Man” and Beijer interchanging. However, in the Bouhouche comparison, imagining a mustache is quite doable.
While Bouhouche was behind bars in the mid-1980s after being accused of the murder of Juan Mendez, police discovered a garage locker rented out to him. In the locker, they would find weapons belonging to not only Madani Bouhouche and Robert Beijer, but also weapons stolen from Juan Mendez in 1985 and weapons stolen from an anti-terror unit in 1981.
Winter Watch Takeaway: The strongest suspects Bouhouche, Beijer, “The Old Man” and Bonkoffsky were likely international Crime Syndicate operatives. Like every country in the world, Belgian law enforcement is infested with these compartmentalized criminals. Now it’s being revealed that others were involved at the cover-up and interference level. Their actions were planned hits with greed quite secondary.
But primarily, these are discordian boogeymen and thugs that pop up at anytime and anywhere to create chaos and misery. They differ little from similar psychological terror being carried now in the U.S. and Europe.