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.