A man, known as the ringleader of the "Angels of Death" and the most wanted criminal in the Netherlands, has been captured in Dubai, the state-run Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported on Monday, December 16.
Commander-In-Chief of Dubai Police, Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, said 41-year-old Ridouan Taghi, implicated in the murder of an Iranian regime opponent, was arrested in cooperation with Dutch authorities who issued an arrest warrant for him last year through Interpol.
"He is one of the world's most dangerous and wanted men and listed on Interpol for his connections to serious organized crime," said Al Merri. "He was arrested in Dubai in a residential villa after he entered the country using a different ID," he added.
According to the Dutch media, Taghi had cooperated in killing an Iranian dissident, Mohammad Reza Kolahi Samadi, in 2015, in the Netherlands.
Kolahi Samadi, 56, was gunned down in December 2015 in the Dutch town of Almere.
The Netherlands had offered a reward of 100,000 euros ($111,500) for information leading to Taghi's arrest.
"Police departments from the Netherlands and other European countries were chasing Taghi for ten years," said Brigadier Jamal Al Jallaf, director of the Criminal Investigation Department of Dubai Police.
"He didn't expect to be arrested in Dubai," Al Jallaf said, adding, "When a special unit of Dubai Police arrested him inside the villa, he said that he didn't expect to be caught after all these years of hiding away.
Kolahi Samadi had fled Iran after the June 28, 1981 bombing of the Islamic Republic Party headquarters in Tehran, which left more than seventy dead. Among the victims was the nascent Islamic Republic's Republic's Chief-Justice Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, considered as the number two man of the newly established Islamic regime, after its founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Reportedly, Kolahi Samadi took refuge in the Netherlands and lived there under the assumed name, Ali Motamed.
Kolah Samadi was believed to be a member of an anti-Islamic Republic group, Mojahedin Khalq Iran (MKO).
Earlier this year, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said there were "strong indications" that Iranian security services were involved in the assassination of 56-year-old Samadi, as well as the killing of another Dutch national of Iranian origin, activist Ahmad Molla Nissi, 52, who founded an Arab nationalist group seeking an autonomous state inside Iran. Nissi was gunned down in 2017.
The Dutch intelligence agency has also said a new report suggests Iranian security services may have had a hand in the murders.
Taghi, who allegedly assisted killing Kolahi Samadi, hit the headlines in September when a Dutch lawyer for a state witness in a case against him was shot dead near his home in Amsterdam.
Born in the small Dutch city of Vianen, Taghi forayed into the world of crime in the '90s and soon emerged as one most significant narcotics traffickers in Europe. It is believed that he built his drug empire by taking over drug trafficking routes between Morocco and Europe, Gulf News reported.
Police said he was wanted in connection with at least 20 murders ordered by him and his associate Said Razzouki, who remains on the run.