Waging jihad while collecting sickness benefits. Photo: Stringer/Scanpix
According to the paper, the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) has identified several examples of Danish citizens who had been granted an early pension, or ‘førtidspension’, because they were judged too sick or disabled to work, and then gone to take part in the war in Syria.
“It is a huge scandal that we disburse money from the welfare fund in Denmark for people who go to Syria,” Employment Minister Troels Lund Poulsen told the newspaper. “Staying in a war zone and directly or indirectly taking part in military operations is not something that is in any way compatible with receiving disability benefits.”
PET provided the information as part of preparations for a parliamentary bill which aims to make it easier to cut off benefits to Danes fighting in Syria.
Udbetaling Danmark, the agency responsible for paying out benefits in Denmark, said that current rules do not allow it to stop benefits payments simply because of a report from PET.
“The legislation does not give Payments Denmark the ability to stop payment of a pension simply because PET provides information that the recipient is participating in the fighting in Syria,” the organisation’s deputy director Carsten Bodal told Berlingske.
“The rules allow you to stop paying, for example, if the recipient is on the run from detention, or if they violate the general rule for international travel for early retirees,” he said.
PET has been pushing to cut off benefits to Danes fighting in Syria since 2014, when it identified 28 jihadis who were receiving unemployment payments.
Last December the Ekstra Bladet newspaper reported that Danish municipalities and the country's state unemployment fund were attempting to claim back a total of 672,000 kroner ($100,000) in wrongfully disbursed payments from 29 of the 36 Danes PET then estimated were had been collecting benefits.