Martin Kok

Bomb, Bomb, Bomberoni

A twice-convicted murderer, Martin Kok is also one of The Netherland’s most popular crime bloggers. But he goes too far when he publishes Ridouan Taghi’s name. Soon, Taghi’s violence begins to spread far beyond the underworld.

Just a heads-up – This podcast contains material some listeners may find disturbing – there’s violence, strong language, and drugs right from the start.


The crime blogger Martin Kok’s funeral, in December 2016, was not the usual, solemn affair.

Before the graveside ceremony, the mourners pass through a security scanner. 

Then, they’re handed a glass of champagne.


On YouTube you can watch as his coffin is accompanied by six elegantly – albeit scantily – dressed women. 

These pall-bearers… are wearing matching black gowns, with slits up the waist.

On top of the coffin? A framed photo of Martin, smiling in a hot tub.  

Martin’s friends and family raise a glass, then splash champagne over his gravestone. 

As mourners wipe away their tears, fireworks explode in the air. 


Martin was a good time guy who died as he lived: 

shot dead in the parking lot of an Amsterdam sex club.

As one of the mourners says, “He got laid, and then he was assassinated painlessly…you can’t have a better way to go…”

But Martin wasn’t killed for being a gangster. He was ultimately killed for writing about them: 

PAUL – I need to say he was killed because of what he wrote, and that was the first time in Holland.


This is the journalist Paul Vugts, who writes for Het Parool. 

PAUL – He was good fun, but I always told him, We can’t be friends because you’re proud of having killed two people. I don’t like people who are proud of killing.

Martin was a twice convicted murderer. 

But he’d recently found a big audience as a provocative crime blogger. 

It’s a dangerous time to be on the Dutch crime beat. 

The gangsters Martin writes about aren’t just shooting each other — they’re also threatening journalists

Here’s Wouter Laumans…


…who also writes for the Dutch paper Het Parool.

WOUTER – The Telegraph, which is one of the biggest newspapers, in the Netherlands, has been attacked. They drove a burning car, through the front door. 

WOUTER – One of the magazines I worked for, they shot, like ground to air missiles through the window 

Martin made a fatal mistake… 

He published the name of a man who’d sooner kill you, than see his name in print… Ridouan Taghi


I’m Mitchell Prothero, a reporter with Project Brazen

This is Gateway. 

Episode Three – Bomberoni

Martin Kok grew up in Volendam, a coastal town northeast of Amsterdam. 

The town is lined with colorful wooden houses, and old fishing boats bobbing in the harbor. 


Martin found school difficult: He had dyslexia and a major stutter. 


According to Martin’s biography… he once electrocuted another boy during science class.

He was kicked out of school at age 15. 

Instead, Martin started working with his dad. 

They sell smoked EELS in Amsterdam’s red light district.  

Martin and his dad dress in the costumes of traditional Dutch fishermen: 

Red shirts, black wide trousers, wooden clogs.

It’s cos-play in a dodgy part of town, where people…


…are more interested in buying heroin, than eels.

Teenage Martin thinks there must be an easier way to make money than selling eels to drunks… And there is. 

Martin gets a job working at a nightclub. 

He’s just 16, but sells packs of cocaine to clubbers — and starts making a lot more cash. 

Martin also becomes familiar with violence

One thug at the club badly beats Martin’s younger brother.

Martin and a friend…


…retaliate. They ram the man’s head with a bar stool and throw him onto the street.

The man dies from his injuries.

“I don’t regret it for a second…” 

Martin tells an interviewer.


“In Volendam they want to erect a statue for me, that guy terrorized the town..”

Martin gets 5 years in prison. 

He’s only 21 years old.

In prison…


… Martin befriends Cor van Hout, an infamous criminal with a similar sense of humour. 

They play practical jokes – like smearing mustard on the phones of the prison guards. 

Martin says later that these were some of the best times of his life.

When Martin gets out of jail, he makes some money selling stolen goods, while also pimping. 

He finds an easy way to boost revenue… touting the women…


…as, ‘KLM air stewardesses…. earning money on the side’. 

They’re not…. 

By the end of the 1990s, Martin falls in love with a woman called Sandra. 

They have two kids.

But when the relationship breaks down, things get ugly.

In July 2001, Martin drives to Sandra’s house with a loaded gun, furious he can’t see his kids. 

Sandra lives with her new boyfriend. They won’t answer the door. 


Martin later tells a Dutch newspaper what happens next… 

He smashes the door open, blind with anger. 

Sandra’s new boyfriend stands there holding a screwdriver. 

Martin shoots him in the stomach. Then twice in the head. 

Before the cops arrive, Martin posts a recording of Sandra calling for help. 

And a photo of her boyfriend’s dead body. 

For this killing…


…Martin gets fourteen years in prison.

But he’s also discovered something that will later become a big part of his life… posting shocking material for all to see.

While sitting in prison, Martin gets a new business idea…

A 2004 news report describes Martin as the first prisoner in the Netherlands to build his own website… 


…from jail. 

He tells the reporter… “I convinced the head of the prison to give me an office, with a computer, and everything… so I could start my own internet business.”

What he creates is essentially a prison newspaper for convicts.

When Martin’s released from prison in 2015, he becomes a full time crime blogger.

Here’s reporter Paul Vugts again.

PAUL – after, getting out of detention, he decided to be…


…more or less a journalist, but he did not, work by any rule. He just published whatever, came up to his mind.

Martin calls his new crime blog Vlinderscrime – or ‘butterfly crime’… 

It becomes the hottest site for criminal gossip… 

A must-read for cops, criminals and journalists.

He speaks with his prison friends, and uploads their conversations. 

Martin publishes all manner of unverified rumours.


“I like openness, freedom of expression…” he tells an interviewer.

To hell with the consequences.

Defying Dutch convention – Martin also prints the unredacted photos of criminals… and their full names

But his next target, Ridouan Taghi…. hates publicity.

Martin is the first to publish Taghi’s full name…

He dubs Taghi ‘Fraggle’, after the creature in the…


…muppet show. 

He tweets muppet pictures mocking Taghi.  

And starts fat-shaming the husky Noffel… aka the Belly…

He knows he has their attention… and calls them both ‘loyal visitors’ to his site. 

Martin is messing with people who don’t get mad online… 

They deal with things on the street.

And soon, Ridouan Taghi adds Martin Kok’s name to his kill list.


In July 2016, Martin finishes a boozy lunch at a restaurant on the outskirts of Amsterdam. 

He’s far too drunk to drive.

And that… ends up saving his life.

Strapped under Martin’s car are more than enough explosives to kill him.

Here’s reporter Wouter Laumans again

WOUTER – They found a bomb under his car. It was clear that that was because of the things he put on his website. So he was a warned man. 


Martin just loves the limelight. 

He does television interviews lying on the road, in front of police cars, while cops disarm the bomb. 

Still drunk, he calls it a “bomberoni”, a little bomb, on national television. 

Martin can’t stop posting. 

He’s playing a very dangerous game.


How much trolling can Ridouan Taghi take?

We’ll find out after the break

Thousands of miles from Amsterdam, Taghi’s comfortably living in Dubai… 

The new home to cocaine’s aristocracy.

ALEX – Dubai did become a bit of a Mecca, for all sorts of interesting individuals on the run

Here’s Alex Yearsley, a private investigator, and expert…


…on money laundering.

ALEX – you don’t have heavy handed regulators. it’s very light touch. And, you know, it’s a wonderful place to do business of all descriptions. And so it attracts a lot of interesting people.

In May 2017, there’s a wedding in what’s been called the world’s only 7-star hotel — Dubai’s the Burj Al Arab

The guestlist is a who’s who of cocaine trafficking. 

Daniel Kinahan, Irish criminal royalty, is getting…



And the Kinahans don’t hold back on extravagance. 

The Royal Suite here goes for $24,000 a night

And rest assured, each of the rooms comes with their own 24-hour butler.

It’s a tightly regulated guestlist, so the crime world can feel safe. 

But they DON’T know there’s a confidential informant in their midst. 

Taking careful notes about who’s here for the US Drug Enforcement Agency:


There’s the heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury.

Raffaele Imperiale allegedly from the Italian Camorra 

Rico the Chilean, an infamous cocaine trafficker

And Tito, a major Bosnian crime lord

Along with them… Ridouan Taghi himself 

The only major player missing from the wedding is Noffel – The Belly. 

He’s locked up in the Netherlands. 


Nobody had to travel very far for the Kinahan wedding – they already live in Dubai. 

And Ridouan Taghi has just joined the neighborhood.

He buys property in a secluded Dubai suburb, and stays well below the radar.

He’s surrounded by CCTV, bodyguards, and works off his encrypted phone. 

He rarely meets with people in person. 

And the unspoken arrangement with the authorities in the UAE is – 

‘don’t commit any crimes here’… 


…then you can stay.

It’s easy to do business here – almost any type of business. 

Alex Yearsley explains…

ALEX – Dubai itself was not going out to organized crime groups going, come here cuz it’s gonna be great. It was the byproduct of them having a relaxed system to encourage the legitimate business. 

So low tax, no corporation tax, easy company formation. Now, what goes hand in hand with that…


… is lack of oversight, but also it makes it so much easier for people that maybe are not as honest as the people they’re trying to attract legitimately for them to come and set up. 

Despite Taghi’s new life in Dubai, Martin Kok and his relentless trolling remain a problem.

Dutch cops have placed Martin under protection, after the powerful bomb is found under his car.

He spends six months living in secure locations around the Netherlands.

He hates it.


He later tells reporter Paul Vugts….

“I don’t have security anymore, because I don’t like it… I’ve been a crook myself for 20 years, and I need the tension. 

I don’t wanna die… but I’m never afraid.”

Even leaving his 3-year-old son without a father doesn’t faze Martin. 

He says to another interviewer, “My son needs to understand, this is how his daddy is… this is Martin, he’s not looking after geraniums…”

And without protection…


…Martin continues provoking Taghi.

It’s Thursday, early December, 2016

Martin starts his day with what turns out to be his last Tweet.  

It’s a photo from the driver’s seat of his cheap car. 

He’s taped a crudely drawn Mercedes-Benz symbol to the steering wheel. 

On his wrist, a piece of paper with the word “Rolex”…   


He’s making fun of the flashy gangsters who read his blog.

Martin is headed to lunch with a group of crime journalists. 

Everyone jokes about whether Martin is a safe person to sit next to.

In the early evening, Martin heads to a hotel with a friend.

There’s footage of him leaving, an hour or so later.

As he walks off down the street, a hitman runs up behind him with a raised gun.

There’s a pause. 

It looks like the gun jams, before the man runs away.


Martin doesn’t even notice. 

He’s lost in conversation with his friend.

An hour later, Martin sends journalist Paul Vugts a text.

He’s on his way to Boccaccio, his favourite sex club.

Martin signs off the message with… “A beautiful life, being a journalist…”

Martin sends a picture from the sex club to another friend. 

He’s lounging on the bed…


…giving the camera a double thumbs up, with a big grin on his face.

Shortly after midnight, Martin leaves the club and gets into his car.


A gunman emerges from the shadows, and fires through the window. 

This gun doesn’t jam. 

Martin is killed instantly.

Martin’s death marks the beginning of a new phase in Europe’s War on Drugs. 


Now, journalists, bloggers and public figures are fair game.

Next time on Gateway…

BRS – It’s like some kids, they think, Okay, I’m gonna do it once and I’m gonna step out. But they’re like, No man, you’re not going anywhere.

TAGHI: “Little brother, where is that Nabil? Why isn’t he responding?”

TAGHI “He knows we’ll let everyone sleep on him…


…if he has mentioned my name.”

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GATEWAY is a production of Project Brazen in partnership with PRX.

It’s reported and hosted by me – Mitchell Prothero.

Additional reporting and production by Dontxupinazo Productions

Editing and fact-checking by Georgia Gee.

Executive producers are Bradley Hope, Tom Wright and Nicholas Brennan.

Special thanks to Sarah Hurtes and the whole team at Project Brazen.



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