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Jihadis Target Denmark

The Danish police announced on September 5, 2006, the arrest of nine suspected terrorists, all under the age of 30, during overnight raids in Odense, Denmark’s third largest city. Ms. Lene Espersen, the local Justice Minister, said it was likely they were planning an attack in Denmark. The men had been under surveillance for months and were detained on suspicion of planning terror acts. 

Ms Espersen said: “The clues police found indicate that they were very likely planning an attack somewhere in Denmark. It was the most serious matter I have had in my time as Justice Minister. Police went in and stopped the group as it was preparing an attack.”

Mr.Lars Findsen, head of the Danish Security Intelligence Service (Pet), said in a statement that the arrests happened in the city’s suburb of Vollsmose. He said the suspects “had acquired material… to build explosives in connection with the preparation of a terror act”. He did not reveal any planned target of the attack and said it was hard to evaluate how far the suspects had gone in their preparations.

In an audio message disseminated by Al Jazeera on April 23, 2006, Osama bin Laden had said that “a Zionist-crusader war on Islam,” was shown most explicitly by the Danish cartoons depicting the Holy Prophet Mohammed, which were published by a Danish journal last year. He added that the cartoon controversy was “too serious for an apology” and was the most serious aspect of the alleged war against Islam. He called for the extradition of those responsible for drawing and publishing the cartoons to be tried by Al Qaeda, just as, he said, the US and the UN had demanded he be turned over after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US. “We demand that their governments hand them over to us to be judged by the law of Allah,” he said. He quoted various Islamic lessons, known as hadiths, to make it clear that he believed that anyone involved in creating and publishing the cartoons should be put to death. He said a boycott of Danish products should be extended to include the United States and Western Europe, but that should not be seen as a substitute for punishing those responsible.”

Subsequently, one Abu Yahya al Libi, believed to be identical with Mohammad Hassan, a Libyan member of Al Qaeda, in a video recording posted on a web site suspected to be close to Al Qaeda, urged Muslims to launch attacks in Europe as revenge for the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. He called upon Muslims to “send rivers of blood” down the streets of Denmark, Norway and France for publishing the cartoons. Mohammad Hassan, along with three other Al Qaeda terrorists, had escaped from the Bagram Air Base detention camp in Afghanistan last year.

His statement said: “Believers, don’t let your Prophet down and don’t let our response to this grave insult just be protests and forums. Denmark, Norway and France, you enemies of Islam, you have committed a grave offence against God and his Prophet. Muslims, let’s not be slack about this … hone your swords and shake the ground beneath their feet so they can feel our pain, let’s send rivers of blood down their streets.”

In August, 2003, a Danish resident of Moroccan origin by name Said Mansour was reported to have been arrested after being noticed photographing security installations and emergency exits on a DFDS (The United Steamship Company) passenger ferry to Oslo. The DFDS shipping line reportedly confirmed to the Danish newspaper “Politiken” that Mansour was aboard the ferry and that the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) had been contacted about the incident. According to the Danish media, Mansour had been living in Denmark for 17 years and was running a publishing company called Al Nur Islamic Information. He was known as a vocal supporter of bin Laden’s jihad.

In an Islamabad datelined (May 5, 2006) report, the Al Arabiya TV channel quoted Mr. Amid Mir, the well-known Pakistani print and TV journalist, who is very well informed on Al Qaeda, as saying that during a visit to Waziristan he had come to know that Al Qaeda had sent a team of 12 persons—nine Afghans and three Pakistanis– to Denmark via Iran to assassinate the Danish cartoonist and others responsible for publishing the cartoons. Mr. Mir was also quoted as saying: “Some of them have Iranian passports and others have Afghan passports. I have been informed that some of them speak English very well and have completed training in the area of Zabul which is near Kandahar which was controlled by the Taliban. They are new Al Qaeda members who have also released a video in which they explain their mission.”

According to some sources in the Pakistani police, many Pakistanis resident in Denmark had been to the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) after the earth quake of last October to work as volunteers in relief camps run by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the parent organisation of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. Some of them were reportedly taken to North Waziristan for training in a camp there.

There are approximately 150,000 Muslims in Denmark (total population 5.3 million), with those of Turkish origin being the largest group at 36,000. Till 1973 nearly 6,000 Pakistanis had migrated to Denmark. They came mainly from Kharian, Gujrat, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Peshawar, Mirpur, and Karachi . Now the number has grown upto 20,000, with many of them being Mirpuris (Punjabi-speaking Kashmiris).

The cartoons were published on September 30, 2005, by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. They were reprinted subsequently in several other newspapers. The first anniversary should be a cause for concern to the security authorities of Denmark, France and Norway.