TIME Denmark

Police Arrest Third Man Suspected of Helping Copenhagen Gunman

The Copenhagen attacks on Feb. 14 - 15 left two people dead

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish police say they have arrested a third man suspected of assisting a gunman who killed two people in attacks in Copenhagen this month.

Police in Copenhagen declined to comment further on the Friday arrest, other than saying the “young man” would face a custody hearing Saturday. The suspect was not named.

A Copenhagen court on Thursday gave another four weeks in custody to two other men accused of helping Omar El-Hussein, who used an assault rifle to kill a Danish filmmaker attending a free speech event Feb. 14 in Copenhagen.

Hours later, El-Hussein killed a Jewish security guard outside a synagogue on Feb. 15 with a handgun. Five police officers also were wounded in both episodes. El-Hussein was killed in a police shootout later that day.

TIME Denmark

What Transformed Copenhagen Gunman From Petty Thug to Lethal Jihadi?

People lay flowers outside a synagogue where an attack took place in Copenhagen, Feb. 15, 2015.
Rumle Skafte—AP People lay flowers outside a synagogue where an attack took place in Copenhagen on Feb. 15, 2015

Two weeks after release from prison for stabbing, Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, managed to find guns and select targets

In the two weeks or so since he was released from prison, Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein must have been a busy man. He had to learn about the discussion that Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who had once published a drawing of Mohammed as a dog, would be giving at a cultural center in Copenhagen, and figure out the best way to attack it. He likely had to stake out the city’s main synagogue as well in order to familiarize himself with its security arrangements. And he had to secure guns: the automatic weapon and the pistol he would use to kill two and injure five before being killed himself by police early in the morning of February 15.

But two days after El-Hussein committed the first terrorist attack on Danish soil in more than 20 years, many here are wondering if the really hard work didn’t go on well before that. Whether it occurred in prison, or in the gangs he was associated with, or in the larger community where he lived, something happened to turn the Danish-born 22-year-old from an ordinary criminal into a terrorist. With the number of Islamist extremists growing in Denmark and elsewhere in Europe — to say nothing of the number of attacks perpetrated by European-born terrorists — the need to answer the question of how and where radicalization occurs is becoming increasingly acute.

Two other men have been arrested as suspected accomplices in the Copenhagen attacks. They are accused of helping El-Hussein secure the weapons he used in the shootings that left 55-year-old filmmaker Finn Norgaard and 37-year-old synagogue security guard Dan Uzan dead, and of helping hide him during the roughly 13 hours between the first attack and the shootout with police that left him dead.

That man was known to police long before he showered the Krudtønden cultural center with bullets while a discussion about blasphemy and freedom of expression was underway. A known gang member, in November 2013, he was arrested after he stabbed — without apparent provocation, according to witnesses — a fellow passenger on a subway train and taken into custody. He was sentenced to two years of prison in December 2014, but was released in January because he had already served more than two thirds of his time while in custody.

What is less clear is whether El-Hussein was a hardened Islamist or simply a common criminal. Journalist Jesper Braarud Larsen covered El-Hussein’s trial for attempted homicide in December 2014 for the news website Dagens.dk, and was present in the courtroom when he was sentenced. “There was absolutely nothing about him that gave any sense of his being religious,” Braarud Larsen says of the young man who appeared in court dressed in black and with scars visible beneath his nearly-shaved hair. “He seemed most like a hardened criminal, who was no stranger to extreme violence. He said he was paranoid because he had been smoking hash that day, and he thought that the 19-year-old victim was someone who had attacked him previously.”

Increasingly, however, the distinction between common criminals and radicals is becoming meaningless, at least in Denmark. “Here, there’s crossover between criminal gangs and extremism,” says terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp, a researcher at the Swedish National Defence College. “In other places you have a division between petty criminals and people [who join extremist groups] to give their life meaning. Here you have individuals who can switch between the two worlds, people who even use extremism as an exit strategy from gangs. Gang experience makes them more serious in extremist circles. They have access to weapons, they know how police work, they’re hardened, they have the skillset.”

 

The number of extremists has risen in Denmark in the past few years to around 200, according to the Danish intelligence service PET. The conflict in Syria has increased their ranks; officials say that 110 Danes have gone to Syria or Iraq as foreign fighters, though the real numbers are likely higher. Kaldet til Islam, an organization with ties to Wahabism and the British radical group Sharia4UK has been attracting a number of returning Danish foreign fighters, and posted a video in which several cartoonists, including Vilks, were depicted as targets.

There is no evidence that El-Hussein was influenced by Kaldet til Islam, and PET has admitted it had only passing awareness of him. That means his time in prison will come under even greater scrutiny as a potential source of his radicalization. Certainly it played a pivotal role for Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly, two of the perpetrators of the attacks in Paris at the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket. Both men were known to have been in contact during their time in Europe’s largest prison with convicted jihadi Djamel Beghal.

Investigators in Denmark are looking into whether El-Hussein had the same kind of experience. “The Danish prison service is vastly different from the French and Belgian, which are serious incubators of terrorism,” says Ranstorp. “In Denmark, they are aware of this issue, and they document the cases of people who get involved, and try to address it. But of course the big issue is who did he come in contact with, what was his behavior there like?”

One measure of the seriousness with which Denmark takes the issue of extremism is the nearly 60.9 million kroner ($9.1 million) deradicalization plan recently agreed to by the government. The plan includes an ‘exit center’ for foreign fighters returning from Syria and Iraq, as well as prevention programs for susceptible youth. That the plan is viewed as potentially effective was evident in Kaldet til Islam’s response. On Feb 4, it was denounced as “a hostile desire to separate Muslims from their Islam” on the group’s Facebook page.

Whether that kind of program would have prevented the Copenhagen attacks is impossible to predict. And El-Hussein’s actions, however they were inspired, suggest a keen determination to carry out violence; sources have told Politiken newspaper that he pretended to be drunk so as to get close enough to the synagogue security to shoot them. But in the choice of his victims, the young man is representative of a nascent breed of homegrown terrorists who combine radicalized views of Islam with common crime. “He’s a hybrid,” Ranstorp says of El-Hussein. “You don’t attack these specific targets based just on criminality. You need an ideology that legitimates the model.”

TIME Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Says the Chapel Hill Shootings Were a ‘Terrorist’ Act

Namee Barakat, center, watches during funeral services for his son, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Feb. 12, 2015, in Wendell, N.C.
Chuck Liddy—The News/ Observer/AP Namee Barakat, center, watches during funeral services for his son Deah Barakat in Wendell, N.C., on Feb. 12, 2015

Thousands also march in Qatar to show solidarity with victims

Saudi Arabia has condemned the killing of three American Muslims in North Carolina as “heinous” and a “terrorist” act.

A statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency on Sunday also called for an end to incitement against Muslims, the Associated Press reports.

On Sunday, several thousand people took part in a march in neighboring Qatar to show solidarity with the families of the North Carolina victims.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which is made up of 57 Muslim countries, also expressed concern, saying the murders reflected “rising anti-Muslim sentiments and Islamophobic acts” in the U.S.

Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Abu-Salha were killed last Tuesday by their neighbor Craig Hicks. The FBI is now investigating whether their deaths were the result of a hate crime.

[AP]

 

TIME Israel

Europe’s Jews Should Move to Israel, Says Israel’s Prime Minister

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Feb. 15, 2015
Abir Sultan—AP Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Feb. 15, 2015

The statement comes after recent attacks against Jews in Paris and Copenhagen

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Sunday that European Jews should embark on a “mass immigration” to Israel.

The statement follows recent murders of Jews in Copenhagen and Paris, including Saturday’s death of a Jewish guard in front of a synagogue and last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris, which left four French Jews dead.

“Jews have been murdered again on European soil only because they were Jews,” Netanyahu said. “Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country, but we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home.”

Denmark’s chief rabbi Jair Melchior said he was “disappointed” by the invitation, however. “People from Denmark move to Israel because they love Israel, because of Zionism, but not because of terrorism,” he told the Associated Press.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt expressed a similar view, saying, “The Jewish community is a large and integrated part of Danish society.”

Last year, over 7,000 French Jews moved to Israel, double the previous year’s figure, prompting French President François Hollande to tell the country’s Jews in an address last month, “Your place is here, in your home. France is your country.”

[NYT]

TIME Denmark

Scenes of the Aftermath of the Copenhagen Attacks

Scenes as the European country reels from terror event

TIME Denmark

Danish PM Defends Freedom of Speech After Attacks

"We must insist on acting as we do. Think and talk like we want to. We are who we are"

The Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has insisted that the series of shooting attacks in Copenhagen will not alter the country’s belief in the freedom of speech.

“They want to violate our freedom of speech, they want to violate our belief in religious freedom,” she said at a press conference on Sunday.

“It’s time for unity in Denmark. The coming days will be tough to get through. We have to understand what has hit us, but we must insist on acting as we do. Think and talk like we want to. We are who we are.”

Police continued their investigation after a gunman who had already killed one person and injured three officers in an attack on a panel discussion dedicated to free speech, struck again on Sunday morning, this time killing another and injuring two outside the city’s main synagogue. Hours later, in a dragnet the likes of which this peaceful Nordic city has never seen, the shooter himself was shot dead by police.

The attacks began just after 3:30pm on February 14. A gunman armed with an automatic weapon sprayed a café in a cultural center in the eastern part of Copenhagen with bullets killing 55-year-old documentary filmmaker Finn Nørgaard and wounding three members of security forces. At the time, the café was hosting a discussion on freedom of expression, that included among its panelists the French ambassador to Denmark, François Zimeray, and Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist and art historian who has been the object of several assassination attempts since he published a cartoon in 2007 that depicted the prophet Mohammed as a dog. Vilks later told the press he was certain he was the object of the attack.

“They fired on us from the outside. It was the same intention as Charlie Hebdo except they didn’t manage to get in,” Zimeray told Agence France-Presse. “Bullets went through the doors and everyone threw themselves to the floor.

After finding the car in which the gunman had initially escaped, police fanned out throughout the city, erecting roadblocks and passenger controls at airports and train stations in an attempt to keep the perpetrator from slipping across the border to Sweden or Germany. But he hadn’t gone that far. Just after 1am, a gunman fired shots in front of the city’s main synagogue, wounding two police officers and one member of the synagogue who was controlling access to a bar mitzvah being celebrated by roughly 80 people inside. That member, 37-year-old Dan Uzan, later died of his wounds. “It’s what we’ve always feared, said synagogue president Daniel Rosenberg Asmussen in an interview with Danish television DR2. “It is also what we have always warned could happen in Denmark.”

Overnight, the center of the city was locked down, and police advised citizens to stay in their homes or, if they were already out, in the bars and clubs where they found themselves. Around 4 am, a suspect returned to an apartment in the northern part of the city that police had been monitoring since the afternoon. When police approached the man, he began firing at them. In the ensuing exchange of shots, the man was killed. “We believe that the man shot by riot police this morning is the one behind the two attacks,” said chief police inspector Torben Mølgård Jensen at an early morning press conference.

The similarities between the Copenhagen shootings and the attack that took place in Paris last month in the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket were lost on no one. “After the Charlie Hebdo event, we knew that there would be more attention directed toward the cartoon affair,” says Lars Erslev Andersen, a senior researcher on terrorism at the Danish Institute for International Studies.

But the novelty of the Copenhagen shooting lay in its execution, not its planning. Since 2005, when the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten commissioned and published 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed, Denmark has been the target of several planned attacks, all of them foiled until yesterday. Although outrage about the cartoons had ebbed in recent years, it was, as the Charlie Hebdo case suggests, revived by ISIS and groups linked to al-Qaeda. And while police don’t yet know whether the perpetrator was acting alone, or as part of a network, they do know that extremism is rising in Denmark. Terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp is chairing a committee created by the city of Copenhagen to produce an action plan aimed at reducing radicalization of Muslim youth. “This came about in response to a huge increase in referrals of people judged to be extremist,” Ranstorp says. “Those who are closest to it are all saying, yes, it’s increasing.”

Now, ordinary Danes have no choice but to recognize the same thing. “As a nation we have lived through a few hours we will never forget,” said Thorning Schmidt at the press conference. “We have tasted the nasty taste of fear and powerlessness that terrorism would like to engender.”

TIME Terrorism

Free Speech Debate ‘Still Alive’ After Attack in Denmark

Shooting At Free Speech Event in Copenhagen
Lars Ronbog—Getty Images A victim is carried into an ambulance after a shooting at a public meeting and discussion arranged by the Lars Vilks Committee about Charlie Hebdo and freedom of speech on Feb. 14, 2015 in Copenhagen.

“Still alive in the room.”

As gunfire erupted outside a Copenhagen cultural center on Saturday afternoon, French ambassador François Zimeray tweeted that message to the world.

The message conveys some of the terror that Zimeray and other participants in a panel discussion on freedom of speech must have felt. But the presence of mind that it took to send contains an even more chilling suggestion: no longer are such violent crimes unexpected.

Although Danish authorities have not detained the perpetrator or established his motives, all evidence suggests that the Feb. 14 attack, like that at the Parisian satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and like several attempted attacks in Denmark before that, was motivated by cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Soon after 3:30 p.m., a gunman (authorities originally said there were two, but later revised the figure) wearing a maroon baklava and armed with an automatic weapon tried to shoot his way into the café at Krudttoenden, a cultural center in eastern Copenhagen, where a discussion entitled “Art, Blasphemy, and Freedom of Expression,” was underway.

He was prevented from entering by police, but not before he fired dozens of shots, killing a 40-year-old man, and injuring three officers. For Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who was attending the panel discussion, there was no doubt about who the intended target was: himself. After publishing a cartoon in 2007 that depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog, Vilks had a $100,000 bounty placed on his head by the then-leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and has been the object of several assassination attacks.

“What other motive could there be?” he told the Associated Press.

The Danish prime minister identified the attack as terrorism and put the nation on high alert. Police have set up controls around major transit hubs to prevent the perpetrator, who escaped the crime scene by hijacking a VW Polo, from leaving the country. Just after 1 a.m. on Feb. 15, a second shooting took place, this one at Copenhagen’s main synagogue. According to police, one person was shot in the head and two police officers were wounded, but they have not yet determined whether this attack is related to the earlier one. The suspect in the synagogue shooting fled on foot.

“We must end this as soon as possible, because we must not get into a situation like the one we saw in Paris, where they took hostages, ” Hans Jorgen Bonnichsen, chief of operations for the Danish intelligence service PET, told the Danish newspaper Berlingske.

He wasn’t the only one with the Charlie Hebdo attacks in mind. In January, Islamist extremists angered by the satirical magazine’s publication of its own Muhammad cartoons entered its offices and killed 12. “After Charlie Hebdo happened, it was obvious that other people could be inspired by it to do the same thing,” says Lars Erslev Andersen, senior researcher in international security at the Danish Institute for International Studies. “At the same time, one of the reactions was for other media to publish the cartoons [in solidarity]. So on both sides we see the confrontation heating up.”

It may be heating up, but its roots go far back. In 2005, the country’s biggest newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, commissioned and published the original Muhammad cartoons. Many Muslims around the globe were outraged, and protests—some of them violent—broke out around the world. Editors and cartoonists at the paper began receiving death threats. In 2008, a thwarted assassination attempt against the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard prompted 17 other Danish newspapers to publish the cartoons themselves.

Denmark has a strong tradition of free speech, and for many in the largely secular country, publishing the cartoons was a way to defend the nation’s key values. But for others, they were a needless provocation. “What we found is that in many instances we don’t have support,” says Flemming Rose, former foreign editor of Jyllands-Posten and author of Tyranny of Silence, about the effects of the cartoon affair. “We’ve been confronted with ‘Maybe it’s your own fault. If you publish that, you’re asking for violence.’”

In the wake of threats and attempted attacks, Jyllands-Posten dramatically increased security for its building and its employees. That may have played a role in the decision to attack Krudttoenden, says terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp, who advises the city of Copenhagen on how to curb radicalization among its Muslim youth. “Jyllands-Posten is one of the best protected buildings in the country. But when you tighten security around particular targets, you’re going to have displacement onto more vulnerable ones.”

More pertinent, however, is the cartoons’ continued traction, even a decade after the original ones were published. “Extremists are not stupid, that’s why they keep on targeting this,” says Ranstorp. “They know how the cartoons resonate in the broader community, and they can use the issue to seek legitimacy and mobilize support. Thousands protested in 2005, when the cartoons first came out, and since then, it’s kept on coming.”

That resonance is unlikely to decrease anytime soon, with extremism increasing throughout Europe. More than 110 Danes who have gone to Syria or Iraq to fight with ISIS, which is itself reviving the anti-cartoon campaign. “Although the cartoon affair never died on jihadi websites, it had mostly disappeared from the Muslim mainstream,” says Erslev Andersen. “The strange thing is that the drawings pop up again with the Islamic State. A new war on terrorism started in August 2014, and it’s as if this old conflict was woken up by it.”

If the perpetrator of the Copenhagen shooting proves to have carried out the attack for those motives, it will no doubt prompt more media to publish the cartoons in defiance, and the embattled cycle of free speech and religious belief will continue. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Jyllands-Posten did not join other Danish newspapers in republishing the French magazine’s cartoons (“We have lived with the fear of a terrorist attack for nine years, and yes, that is the explanation why we are not reprinting the cartoons,” the newspaper explained in an editorial. “We are also aware that we are therefore bowing to violence and intimidation.”).

But not all supporters of free speech will be silenced. As police swept the building for suspects on Saturday’s attack, attendees at the Art, Blasphemy and Free Expression panel continued their discussion. “We couldn’t go anywhere,” organizer Helle Merete Brix told Berlingske, “so we just kept debating.”

TIME Terrorism

Deadly Shooting Kills 1 at Copenhagen Free Speech Event

DENMARK SHOOTING
Kenneth Meyer—AP An armed security officer runs down a street near a venue after shots were fired where an event titled "Art, blasphemy and the freedom of expression" was being held in Copenhagen, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015.

Cartoonist who has drawn Muhammad was in attendance

One person is dead after shots were fired at a cafe in Copenhagen on Saturday that hosted an event organized by a Swedish cartoonist who has received death threats of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, according to media reports.

MORE: Pakistanis Protest Charlie Hebdo Cover

According to the Associated Press and Reuters, Danish police say that one civilian was killed and three police officers were injured during the event titled “Art, Blasphemy and the Freedom of Expression.”

The cartoonist, Lars Vilks, has been the subject of numerous death threats over the years, primarily over a cartoon he drew in 2007 depicting Muhammad with the body of a dog. Some branches of Islam prohibit any likeness of Muhammad.

MORE: Turkey Censors Facebook Pages That ‘Insult’ the Prophet Muhammad

According to multiple media reports, gunmen fired numerous shots into the cafe and then drove away from the scene.

The incident follows the attack inside the offices of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in January, which killed 12 people.

MONEY Airlines

United Cancels Too-Good-to-Be-True Plane Tickets

Thousands of customers thought they were buying first-class transatlantic seats for less than $100, but United Airlines says otherwise.

TIME China

China Tumbles in Annual Corruption Index

Chinese one-hundred yuan banknotes
Jerome Favre—Bloomberg/Getty Images

See where countries rank from most corrupt to least

China fell 20 spots in this year’s corruption rankings, despite President Xi Jinping’s massive campaign to weed out graft that has disciplined more than 60,000 government officials.

Transparency International’s annual study, released late Tuesday, scored 175 countries and territories based on how corrupt experts perceive them to be. The lowest rankings indicate the highest amounts of corruption. China, the world’s second largest economy, placed 100 on the Index, down from 80 in 2013.

“Fast-growing economies whose governments refuse to be transparent and tolerate corruption, create a culture of impunity in which corruption thrives,” José Ugaz, the chair of Transparency International, said in a statement released with the report. Brazil, Russia and India, the other members of the so-called BRIC developing nations, all placed in the lower two-thirds of the rankings.

Denmark held onto first place as the country seen as least corrupt, while recent and current conflict zones represented some of the poorest-faring countries, including Syria (159), Libya (166) and Somalia, which tied North Korea for last place.

Iraq, where the government said on Monday that an internal review had found some 50,000 soldiers were on the payroll but not showing up for duty, placed 170.

Read next: Hong Kong Protest Leaders Attempt to Surrender to Police

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com