FM in Washington: ‘React, don’t over-react’

At an anti-terrorism conference hosted by the Obama administration, Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard was joined by top ministers from Jordan, Egypt, France and Belgium, all of which – like Denmark – have suffered serious setbacks at the hands of either extremist groups or lone wolves.

FM in Washington: 'React, don't over-react'
Denmark's Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard speaks at the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism on Thursday in Washington, DC. Photo: AFP/Mandel Ngan
Joining ministers and top officials from more than 60 countries on the third and final day of a White House terrorism summit, Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard thanked participants for the "heartwarming" outpouring of support after the weekend attacks in Copenhagen synagogue. But he sounded a note of caution.
"It is difficult for modern man and modern society to deal with merciless cruelty… by persons devoid of reason and compassion, but we must. Our response must be based on trust, not mistrust. We have to react but we should not over-react."
Lidegaard also used the Washington summit to discuss Denmark's new anti-terror initiatives and offered to host a regional anti-terrorism conference, he wrote on Twitter. 
The United States hosted the meeting in an attempt to galvanize global action against violent jihadist groups, amid warnings the world was confronted with "a new war against a new enemy."
US President Barack Obama pledged the United States would be "a strong partner" in seeking to halt the march of groups like Islamic State (Isis).
Governments must remain "unwavering in our fight against terrorist organizations," Obama said, vowing to work with unstable countries such as Yemen and Somalia to help "prevent ungoverned spaces where terrorists find safe haven."
Nations also needed to confront the "warped ideologies" espoused by groups like Isis and Al-Qaeda, Obama stressed, and must tackle the economic and political grievances which "makes those communities ripe for extremist recruitment."
But he stressed: "The notion that the West is at war with Islam is an ugly lie. And all of us, regardless of our faith, have a responsibility to reject it."
Amid all the talk and despite US assurances that the summit was aimed at drafting an action plan for going forward, it appeared few concrete steps were to be unveiled in Washington.
Indeed, Obama challenged nations to bring their ideas to the UN general assembly in September.
As a first step though, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he would convene in the coming months a meeting of global faith leaders warning that the "emergence of a new generation of transnational terrorist groups… is a grave threat to international peace and security."
"These extremists are pursuing a deliberate strategy of 'shock and awful' – beheadings, burnings, and snuff films designed to polarize and provoke."
Denmark was also represented in Washington by Aarhus Mayor Jacob Bundsgaard, who discussed the city's controversial jihadist rehab programme and anti-radicalization efforts


Denmark strips dual national of citizenship after terror conviction

A court in Denmark jailed a dual Danish-Turkish national for 10 years on Tuesday and stripped him of his citizenship for "planning a terrorist attack".

Denmark strips dual national of citizenship after terror conviction
The court at Frederiksberg ruled a 24-year-old man must be stripped of his Danish citizenship following a conviction on terrorism charges. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

The 24-year-old — who was not named by the court — will serve his prison sentence in Denmark, but will then be deported to Turkey upon release, the court in Frederiksberg said in a statement.

The man, a native of Copenhagen, had been under surveillance by the intelligence services and was arrested in April 2020 immediately after purchasing a gun and ammunition. 

The police had found a flag of the Islamic State group in his home. 

Prosecutors had demanded a jail term of 12 years and had charged him with purchasing weapons and ammunition “with the intent of perpetrating one or more terrorist attacks”.

The potential targets were not revealed.

After the man is deported, he will be banned for life from entering Danish territory. 

“I think he’s been in Turkey fewer times than many other Danish people,” his lawyer, Rolf Gregersen, told the court.

“Denmark must take responsibility for him once he was awarded Danish citizenship. They can’t just stick a postage stamp on his back and send him on his way,” the lawyer was quoted by the Danish news agency Ritzau as saying. 

The Danish intelligence services, which have foiled a number of attacks in recent years, categorise the risk of an attack against Denmark as “serious”, six years after an Islamist-motivated double attack in Copenhagen left two people dead.