Danish government reaches agreement to revoke passports of Isis fighters

The government and Danish People’s Party (DF) have agreed new rules that will enable authorities to withdraw passports from individuals found to have fought for militant groups abroad.

Danish government reaches agreement to revoke passports of Isis fighters
A picture taken on March 23rd, 2019 shows the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces' flag atop a building in theeastern Syrian village of Baghuz. Photo: GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

The new rules will provide for an administrative process that will enable passports to be revoked without going through the courts, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration announced.

Immigration minister Inger Støjberg said in a statement that she was “very satisfied” with the agreement.

“These people have gone to fight against democracy, freedom and everything Denmark stands for, and they do not belong in Denmark,” Støjberg said.

In addition to the new provision on passports, the government and its parliamentary ally DF have also agreed to change citizenship rules.

A new rule will mean that citizenship will not automatically be given to children born to Danish mothers if they are abroad with the purpose of fighting for groups such as Islamic State (Isis) at the time of the child’s birth.

That means that children born in areas where it is illegal to travel to will not be automatically entitled to Danish citizenship if their parents entered the country or region in question illegally.

“Their parents have turned their back on Denmark, so there is no reason for their children to be citizens,” Støjberg said.

Although the agreement is currently supported by a majority in parliament, it cannot be passed into law until after general elections, which must take place no later than June, Ritzau writes.

Police security agency PET has estimated that 150 people have, since 2012, travelled from Denmark to Iraq or Syria to take part in wars there.

Of those, around one third has returned to Denmark, according to the intelligence agency's assessment.

PET has also estimated that “some women who travelled [to the relevant areas] took children with them into conflict areas, and some had children while they were there”.

Around 40 Danish foreign fighters are still in areas of conflict, of which 10 are in prison, Minister of Justice Søren Pape Poulsen said at a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday. The remainder have returned to Denmark, travelled to other countries or have been killed.

READ ALSO: 'It would be better if they had died in battle': Danish justice minister on returning Syria fighters

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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.