Cartoonist says police underestimated threat

Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist believed to have been the target of one of the deadly Copenhagen shootings said Tuesday that Danish police "had not caught onto" new realities following last month's Paris attacks.

Cartoonist says police underestimated threat
Lars Vilks criticized Danish police but conceded that it was "easy with hindsight" to say they could have done more. Photo: Bjorn Lindgren/TT News Agency/Scanpix
Lars Vilks – who has faced several death threats since his cartoon portraying the Prophet Mohammed as a dog was published in a Swedish newspaper in 2007 – has gone into hiding after Saturday's deadly attacks, in which he was apparently targeted but escaped harm. 
The 68-year-old artist, who already lives under constant police protection, told news wire AFP on Tuesday that Danish police had underestimated the terrorist threat since January's Paris attacks.
"The attacker had good weapons, he had better weapons than the police," Lars Vilks, who has been forced into hiding since the weekend shootings, told AFP.
"There was an escalation since the Charlie Hebdo attacks [in Paris] and the Danes had not caught onto that," he said.
Vilks was among those attending a debate on Islam and free speech at a cultural centre attacked on Saturday by a gunman who also targeted a synagogue in a rampage that left two people dead and five wounded.
The assaults came just weeks after the Paris attacks last month by Islamist gunmen on the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly and a kosher supermarket that left 17 people dead.
"They did not step up security on Saturday. It was the same as we had previously… they must consider whether they need to be better armed," the cartoonist said, referring to the 'Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression' event in Østerbro that was the target of the first Copenhagen shooting.
Vilks, who had his own security detail at the event, emerged unharmed after the gunman fired off dozens of rounds outside the centre.
But he conceded that it was "easy with hindsight" to say that the police could have done more.
Vilks has lived under police protection since 2010 and on Tuesday, police in Helsingborg reportedly carried out an action at the artist's home although it was unclear if there was a threat or if officers were merely retrieving his belongings. Vilks was not present.
Swedish police said Monday they had moved the artist from his home to an undisclosed "safe" location.
Vilks' comments about come as it emerged the supposed gunman was already known to the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) as someone who may have been radicalized while in jail. 
Vilks said that despite the threats he intended to keep speaking out about freedom of expression.
"I have no plans to give up. But I don't know what security decisions will be made — it could be deemed inappropriate to speak publicly. It would be tragic if that was the case, he said. "But there can't be a military operation every time I'm going to lecture."


Copenhagen terrorist had Quran during attacks

Nearly one year after gunman Omar El-Hussein killed two people Copenhagen, new details have emerged about the terror attack.

Copenhagen terrorist had Quran during attacks
The fact that Omar El-Hussein was in possession of a Quran when shot by police was kept secret for nearly a year. Photos: Københavns Politi; Kristian Brasen/Scanpix
Radio24syv revealed that Omar El-Hussein, a Danish citizen of Palestinian origin, was carrying a copy of the Quran when he was shot and killed by police in the wee hours of February 15, 2015, information that had been kept secret by Danish authorities.
According to the radio station, at the time of his death El-Hussein had a Quran on him with a bookmark at Surah 21, ‘The Prophets’, which contains verses about disbelievers of Islam. 
A theologian and expert on the Quran at the University of Copenhagen said that although one cannot definitively prove that the 22-year-old El-Hussein was inspired by the scripture, the location of the bookmark could be significant. 
“One can imagine that El-Hussein considered his actions to be a continuation of the the Quran's verses on punishing the wicked,” Thomas Jøhnk Hoffmann told Radio24syv.
An official report on the February 14-15 terror attack – in which El-Hussein first fired at least 30 shots at a free speech event, killing one, and then killed a volunteer security guard outside of Copenhagen’s Great Synagogue –  made no mention of the gunman’s Quran. 
The Danish National Police declined to comment to Radio24syv on why the information wasn’t included, saying that “the involved authorities gave a description that was as precise as possible” in their report. 
Former Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET)head Hans Jørgen Bonnichsen said that withholding the information made little sense from a practical standpoint. 
“I have a hard time seeing that it would have been out of consideration for the investigation. But it could be that one did not want to contribute to equating Islam with terror and that one wanted to guard against revenge attacks in the days after [the twin shootings],” he told Radio24syv
El-Hussein was born in Copenhagen to Palestinian parents who fled to Denmark via a refugee camp in Jordan. Just two weeks before he spread terror through the Danish capital, the 22-year-old was released from prison for a stabbing offence. 
It was behind bars that El-Hussein is thought to have become radicalized. He was on multiple occasions flagged up by prison authorities for expressing “extreme” views on Islam and at one point shared a cell with an inmate who openly supported the Islamic State, but PET said that it had “no reason to believe that the now deceased 22-year-old offender was planning attacks” based on the information from the Danish Prison and Probation Service. 
In addition to the revelation about El-Hussein’s Quran, TV-2 also reported that seven of the 21 shots fired by police and security guards from within the targeted Krudttønden cultural cafe got stuck in the cafe’s window as the gunman opened fire on a free speech event from the outside. 
It is unknown if the shots were unable to pierce through the windows because of inadequate ammunition or because of the angles from which the shots were fired, but a Danish People’s Party spokesman said that the revelation is proof that Danish police were ill-prepared for a terror attack. 
“The police should have been ready to withstand a terror attack, and they clearly were not prepared. Denmark has been high on the list of countries that terrorists want to attack, so it is thought-provoking that officers didn’t have ammunition that could shoot through glass. It seems completely useless,” Peter Kofod Poulsen told Politiken.