Denmark looking at support networks for Syrian jihadists
Earlier this week, the Copenhagen Post reported that the Copenhagen police have been conducting a covert investigation into Danish funding sources for jihadists in Syria, including those fighting with the al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusrah Front.
According to Jens Møller, the head of the Copenhagen Police's violent crime division, among the several separate cases under investigation since March is an inquiry into the activities of controversial Islamist preacher Abu Ahmed. His Quba mosque is located on the island of Amager, on the outskirts of Copenhagen and just across the water from Malmo, Sweden. He is said to have provided spiritual guidance to aspiring Danish terrorists, and the mosque's Facebook page has supported Danish jihadists in Syria and solicited funds for the Al Nusrah Front. A Salafist charitable organization, Hjælp4Syrien, is suspected to be involved in funneling money to Syrian jihadists and terror organizations in Syria.
Part of the investigation will examine operations of the Danish charity Hjælp4Syrien to try to determine the source of the funds and whether any of them have served to finance terrorism. One of the difficulties police face is the fact that some of the likely recipients, including the Al Nusrah Front, are not on the European Union terrorist blacklist.
Two days ago, the first Danish-language jihadist video from Syria appeared on the Internet, according to the Copenhagen Post. In the video, which was recently uploaded to YouTube, jihadist Abu Khattab appealed to Danish Muslims to come to Syria for jihad, calling it the "forgotten implication." Khattab is known in Salafist circles in Denmark.
Responding to news of the video, Justice Minister Morten Bødskov warned: "[S]tay far away from him and far away from Syria." He added that Denmark is "working closely with intelligence agencies of other countries, and the police are investigating these communities intensely."
In a related development, Lebanese media reported this week that a Danish citizen of Palestinian origin was one of three people involved in an attempted suicide bombing at a checkpoint in the Lebanese border town of Arsal. The Danish foreign ministry said it is investigating, and refused to comment on the report.
Danish authorities have estimated that 65 Danes have gone to Syria for jihad, but the actual number may higher, as Islamist forces continue to extend their reach in the increasingly chaotic country. Authorities believe that so far six Danish jihadists have died in Syria. In May, jihadist forums released a video announcing the death of Danish jihadist Kenneth Sørensen, who had fought with the Muhajireen Brigade (Emigrants Brigade), which is allied with the Al Nusrah Front. [See LWJ report, Danish jihadist killed while fighting for Muhajireen Brigade in Syria.]
Denmark, like many of its Western neighbors, is growing more apprehensive about what may happen if and when battle-hardened extremists return. The emergence of home-based jihadist support networks will amplify those concerns.