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TERRORISM

Denmark ‘high on Isis’s list’: Danish jihadist

A militant jihadist born and raised in Denmark has fought alongside Isis in Syria and said that "soon it will be Denmark's turn".

Denmark 'high on Isis's list': Danish jihadist
This undated image posted by the Raqqa Media Center shows Isis fighters during a parade in Raqqa, Syria. Photo: Raqqa Media Center/AP/Polfoto
The terrorist organisation Isis has its sights set on Denmark according to a Danish-Turkish militant who has fought in Syria.
 
The 27-year-old jihadist, identified only as ÖA, told Politiken that as “an enemy of Islam”, Denmark is on Isis’s radar. 
 
“We have become very international and Denmark is high up on the list, believe me,” ÖA told the newspaper. 
 
ÖA was born and raised in Denmark but said he felt no allegiance to the country. 
 
“Denmark is not my country. The Muslims’ country is the caliphate and inshallah there will soon be an attack here. Denmark should prepare itself,” the jihadist said. 
 
“It is an open war now. Isis has said that all infidels should be battled. They should be eliminated and soon it will be Denmark’s turn,” ÖA continued. 
 
ÖA recently returned to Denmark after fighting for Isis in Syria and told Politiken that he plans to go back soon. Politiken asked the young man if he would personally carry out an attack against the country in which he has spent the vast majority of his life. 
 
“My battle lies in Syria. But you never know, brother. The prophet said that Allah showed him the eastern and western parts of the world and that they should be united in a caliphate. So Denmark might get its turn soon,” he said. 
 
Four Isis terrorists were reportedly behind Norway’s recent terror alert and in May, a man reportedly connected to Isis killed four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. Fighters connected with the militant group allegedly planned to carry out an attack at one of the Danish brewer Carlsberg's locations in Malaysia.
 
Isis militants recently released a video showing the brutal killing of American journalist James Foley and according to a still-unconfirmed media report, the same group of Isis jihadists is currently holding a Danish hostage. Another Dane, Daniel Rye Ottosen, was held by the group for 13 months in Syria before being released in June
 
Denmark this week approved a military mission to aid Iraqi and Kurdish forces battling Isis in northern Iraq. 
 

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SYRIA

‘I can’t go back’: Syrian refugees in Denmark face limbo after status revoked

Bilal Alkale's family is among the hundred or so Syrian refugees in Denmark whose lives are on hold amid an insufferable legal limbo -- their temporary residency permits have been revoked but they can't be deported. Now, they have no rights.

Syrian refugee Bilal Alkale and his daughter Rawan at their home in Lundby, Denmark on November 17th 2021. 
Syrian refugee Bilal Alkale and his daughter Rawan at their home in Lundby, Denmark on November 17th 2021. Photo: Thibault Savary / AFP

Alkale, who until recently ran his own small transportation company in Denmark, found out in March he wasn’t allowed to stay in the Scandinavian country where he has lived as a refugee since 2014, as Copenhagen now considers it safe for Syrians to return to Damascus.

His wife and three of his four children were also affected by the decision taken by Danish authorities.

Once the ruling was confirmed on appeal in late September — like 40 percent of some 200 other cases examined so far — Alkale and his family were ordered to leave.

READ ALSO: Danish refugee board overturns decisions to send home Syrians

They were told that if they didn’t go voluntarily, they would be placed in a detention centre.

The family has refused to leave.

Normally they would have been deported by now, but since Copenhagen has no diplomatic relations with Damascus, they can’t be. And so they wait.

Days and weeks go by without any news from the authorities.

In the meantime, the family has been stripped of their rights in Denmark.

Alkale can’t sleep, his eyes riveted on his phone as he keeps checking his messages.

“What will become of me now?” the 51-year-old asks.

“Everything is off. The kids aren’t going to school, and I don’t have work,” he says, the despair visible on his weary face as he sits in the living room of the home he refurbished himself in the small village of Lundby, an hour-and-a-half’s drive south of Copenhagen.

“All this so people will get annoyed enough to leave Denmark.”

For him, returning to Syria means certain death.  

“I can’t go back, I’m wanted,” he tells AFP.

And yet, he has no way to earn a living here.

“As a foreigner staying illegally in Denmark, your rights are very limited,” notes his lawyer Niels-Erik Hansen, who has applied for new residency permits for the family.

In mid-2020, Denmark became the first European Union country to re-examine the cases of about 500 Syrians from Damascus, which is under the control of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, saying “the current situation in Damascus is no longer such as to justify a residence permit or the extension of a residence permit”. 

The decision was later widened to include the neighbouring region of Rif Dimashq.

Despite a wave of Danish and international criticism, the Social Democratic government — which has pursued one of Europe’s toughest immigration policies — has refused to budge.

READ ALSO:

The Alkale family is considering leaving for another European country, even though they risk being sent back to Denmark. 

Alkale’s oldest child was already over the age of 18 when they arrived in Denmark and therefore has her own residency permit, currently under review.

Of the three other children, only the youngest, 10-year-old Rawan, still has the carefree ways of a child.

Majed, 14, says he’s “bummed”, while Said, 17, who was studying to prepare for professional chef school, says he now has no idea what his future holds.

Only a handful of Syrians have so far been placed in detention centres, regularly criticised for poor sanitary conditions.

Asmaa al-Natour and her husband Omar are among the few.

They live in the Sjælsmark camp, a former army barracks surrounded by barbed wire and run by the prisons system since late October.

“This centre should disappear, it’s not good for humans, or even for animals. There are even rats,” says al-Natour.

READ ALSO:

 The couple, who have two sons aged 21 and 25, arrived in Denmark in 2014.

“My husband and I opened a shop selling Arabic products, it was going well. Then I decided to resume my studies, but now everything has just stopped,” says al-Natour, who “just wants to get (her) life back.” 

“Going back to Syria means going to prison, or even death, since we’re opposed to Bashar al-Assad. He’s a criminal.”

Niels-Erik Hansen, who also represents this couple, says his clients are being “held hostage by the Danish authorities.”

The government is trying “to spread the message that ‘in Denmark, we almost deport to Syria’,” he says.

Amnesty International recently criticised Syrian security forces’ use of violence against dozens of refugees who returned home.

Danish authorities meanwhile insist it’s safe for Syrians to go back.

“If you aren’t personally persecuted … there haven’t been acts of war in Damascus for several years now. And that is why it is possible for some to go back,” the government’s spokesman for migration, Rasmus Stoklund, tells AFP.

Some 35,500 Syrians currently live in Denmark, more than half of whom arrived in 2015, according to official statistics.

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