Country Report on Terrorism 2018 - Chapter 1 - Denmark

Overview: The Kingdom of Denmark (which includes the autonomous constituent countries of Greenland and the Faroe Islands) devoted significant assets to counterterrorism programs and CVE initiatives, domestically and abroad. Denmark cooperates closely with the United States, the UN, and the EU on counterterrorism initiatives, including within the GCTF and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

According to the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET), at least 150 Danish citizens and residents voluntarily left Denmark to fight in Syria and Iraq since the summer of 2012. PET remained concerns that Danish fighters returning to Denmark with terrorist training would seek to radicalize others. According to the PET-administered Center for Terror Analysis (CTA), the primary terrorist threat to Denmark is small, simple attacks perpetrated by radicalized members of the Islamic community. CTA also assesses a limited but increasing threat from other terrorist actors who target Denmark’s asylum centers, religious minorities, and migrants.

2018 Terrorist Incidents: On February 17, Mohamed Abdelkader Salem Al-Tamimi, a Danish citizen of Iraqi descent, attacked a young couple with an ax at a convenience store near Copenhagen. Their injuries were not life-threatening. Police arrested Al-Tamimi after an armed robbery two days later. PET assessed that Al-Tamimi may have been radicalized while serving a series of prison sentences beginning in 2009.

On March 19, four men between the ages of 19 and 23 connected to Kurdish organizations in Syria threw Molotov cocktails at the Turkish Embassy. No injuries were reported and the embassy only suffered cosmetic damage. PET arrested the four men, who now face trial for the most serious form of arson under Danish law.

On September 26, PET arrested three Danish residents of Kurdish origin accused of sending drone equipment to ISIS. In total, at least six people were part of the suspected terrorist cell led by Basil Hassan, a reportedly deceased Danish-Lebanese citizen, who played a crucial role in ISIS’s drone program.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In July, the Danish Parliament passed legislation implementing the revised EU fingerprint database regulations, which allow law enforcement officials to search EU fingerprint databases of asylum seekers. In September, the Danish Directorate for Correctional Services released revised guidelines allowing police greater discretion in controlling the terms of probation for people convicted of terrorism-related offenses. In 2018, Denmark banned seven religious figures, including two U.S. citizens Hamza Sodagar and Khalifah At-Thahabi, from entering the country for two years for being deemed a threat to public order due to their alleged roles in promoting “hate speech.”

Denmark continued to use its 2006 terrorism legislation that allows information sharing between its agencies responsible for counterterrorism and FTFs – the PET and the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (DDIS). Efforts to counter terrorism are also shared among the Danish National Police, the Public Prosecution Service, and the Danish Prison and Probation Service. Danish security and law enforcement agencies share information through the CTA, which – as the Danish government’s intelligence fusion center – constitutes the focal point for reporting from the Danish National Police, PET, DDIS, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Danish Emergency Management Agency. The Danish police and the Danish defense forces share responsibility for preventing terrorist attacks in Copenhagen and on the borders.

Counterterrorism-related actions by law enforcement included:

  • On September 28, Danish intelligence disrupted an Iranian plot to assassinate expatriate leaders of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of al-Ahwaz (ASMLA) living in Denmark.
  • On October 30, in a highly publicized news conference, PET Chief Finn Borch Andersen and Minister of Foreign Affairs Anders Samuelsen announced a Norwegian national of Iranian descent was arrested in Sweden in connection with the plot and extradited to Denmark for trial. Denmark later charged three ASMLA members of Iranian origin with violating the Danish law that prohibits condoning terrorism for publicly praising a September terrorist attack on a military parade in Ashvaz, Iran.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Denmark is a member of the FATF. Its FIU, the Money Laundering Secretariat, is a member of the Egmont Group. Denmark has a robust legal framework to combat the financing of terrorism.

In May, Denmark amended its money laundering laws to address a loophole and criminalize “self-laundering,” which Denmark defines as a “crime committed by the person who uses, substitutes or transfers money, goods or other benefits in or to economic, financial, speculative or entrepreneurial activities deriving from a crime committed by himself in order to hide their criminal origin.” In October, Denmark released updated guidance for AML/CFT. In November, the FATF noted that Denmark made significant improvements in 10 out of 12 areas since its 2017 review.

Countering Violent Extremism: In February, Denmark’s National Center for the Prevention of Extremism (National Center) developed a handbook for municipalities to effectively engage civil society actors to prevent radicalization to violence and to develop their own action plans. The National Center also partnered with universities to fund two PhD scholarships and funded the development of university courses on prevention of radicalization to violence. In June, the U.S. Embassy sponsored a CVE-focused TechCamp for at-risk youth in the digital space, focused on countering malign influence, and positively influencing Danish CVE efforts. In August, the National Center, the Media Council for Children and PET began publishing an online magazine helping youth identify terrorist ideology and online propaganda. In September, the National Center launched a mentorship corps with 140 employees from 27 municipalities to prevent violent extremism in their local communities. VINK, Copenhagen City’s anti-radicalization unit, is launching a new project that reaches out to the mosques in the area, offering guidance to congregation members who serve on mosque boards of directors. In November, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it would spend an additional US $18.2 million to prevent radicalization to violence and terrorism.

International and Regional Cooperation: The Danish government is committed to working within the UN framework, through the EU, and with other international and regional organizations. Denmark actively participates in the GCTF, the Council of Europe, NATO, the OSCE, INTERPOL, the Bern Club, and the European Counterterrorism Center.