Danish politicians defy Trump by rejecting return of Isis fighters

Denmark’s three largest political parties have said they do not want to accept the return of citizens who have travelled to Syria to fight for the Islamic State (Isis) terror group.

Danish politicians defy Trump by rejecting return of Isis fighters
Michael Aastrup Jensen of the Liberal (Venstre) party. File photo: Niels Ahlmann Olesen/Scanpix 2014

The Social Democrats, Danish People’s Party and the Liberal (Venstre) party have all ruled out accepting the return of Danish Isis fighters after US president Donald Trump called for European countries to take back the around 800 Isis fighters captured in Syria and put them on trial.

“This will not happen for as long as we have any say. They (the fighters, ed.) have long since wasted their Danish citizenships. They are no longer Danish in my eyes,” Søren Espersen, foreign policy spokesperson with the nationalist Danish People’s Party, said.

A similar sentiment was expressed by Michael Aastrup Jensen, foreign policy spokesperson with the Liberal party.

“These are some of the most dangerous people in the world, and we don’t want them back,” Jensen said.

Social Democrat justice spokesperson Trine Bramsen also rejected Trump’s call for Isis fighters to be taken back by Denmark. Militants should be put on trial locally, Bramsen said.

“Denmark’s job is to assist with the establishment of a legal system and prison service locally, and these people must then serve their punishments in the countries where they have committed crimes,” she said.

Jensen also raised the option of revoking citizenship.

“Other European countries have had experience with revoking citizenship from these people in absentia. I think that is an interesting option,” he said.

Trump’s call to European allies came as the final Isis-held town looked likely to fall.

“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 Isis fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial. The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them,” the US president tweeted, adding that the US did not want the fighters to then “permeate Europe”.

Some EU countries, notably France, have said they are preparing to take back citizens who have fought for Isis, international media have reported.

The most recent terror assessment made by Danish intelligence service PET notes that, since the summer of 2012, 150 people have travelled from Denmark to Syria or Iraq to join with militant Islamist groups.

Although the actual figure may be higher, it is considered to have decreased since 2014, with very few people making the journey in more recent years.

READ ALSO: Denmark may have to accept return of Isis militants: report

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Six arrested in Denmark raid for suspected Isis links

Six men suspected of being members of the so-called Islamic State (Isis) group or funding it were arrested in an anti-terror raid in Denmark on Tuesday, police said.

Six arrested in Denmark raid for suspected Isis links
File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The suspects, whose identities were not disclosed, are aged between 27 and 35, police in East Jutland said.

Two of the suspects were arrested in the Danish capital Copenhagen and the four others in Aarhus, Denmark’s second-biggest city.

“Two of the people arrested, a man aged 29 from the region of Aarhus and a 30-year-old man living in Copenhagen, are suspected of penal code violations… for having travelled to Syria in 2014, where they were recruited by the terrorist organisation Islamic State,” police said in a statement.

The 29-year-old is also suspected of having tried to return to Syria in early 2015 to rejoin Isis.

Under his instruction, the four other suspects are accused of having acted as “intermediaries” and having sent money to the organisation.

According to Danish intelligence service PET, at least 160 people have travelled from Denmark to fight in Syria or Iraq. About a third of them have been killed in action, 32 are still there and around half of them have either returned to Denmark or another country.

Jihadism is considered the biggest threat to Denmark’s national security, according to PET.