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Justice minister can't stop Danes from fighting in Syria

Denmark will collaborate with other EU nations to prevent an increasing number of young people from going to war in Syria


While the justice minister wants to limit the number of Danish fighters in Syria, she can't deny them exit (Photo: Scanpix)

January 27, 2014
19:33

by Andreas Jakobsen


Denmark is not the only country dealing with a growing number of young people risking their lives in Syria.

At least 2,000 EU citizens have travelled to Syria to fight in the ongoing civil war there, DR Nyheder reports. The problem is especially prevalent in France, Germany and Belgium.

READ MORE: Danish jihadist reportedly killed in Syria

​Since the fighters can't be prosecuted when they return from war, Justice Minister Karen Hækkerup (S) has changed the government's strategy and said she will collaborate with the other EU nations on how to prevent the fighters from leaving in the first place.

"We have shared similar stories and agreed that we are going to collaborate further to prevent young people from going to war," Hækkerup told DR Nyheder. "What remains a challenge for all of us is that we can't deny these people exit, since there is free movement between the borders."

Hækkerup said she's already working closely with domestic intelligence agency PET and the Social and Integration Ministry to avoid young Muslims being radicalised and persuaded into going to war.

PET keeping track on Danish fighters
PET's Centre of Terrorism Analysis (CTA) released a report on Friday that states that at least 90 people have travelled from Denmark to Syria to fight since 2012 and that at least eleven Danish nationals have died fighting there.

A significant number of the fighters pose a significant risk to domestic safety, with CTA stating that they have learned military skills in Syria that could potentially be used to plan acts of terrorism back home. 

READ MORE: PET warns against Danish fighters returning from Syria

That is why PET will keep track of people who are planning on travelling to Syria to fight, said PET head Jens Madsen.

"It remains one of PET's most important tasks to keep an eye on people who are planning to go to Syria to fight and those who return," Madsen said. "Denmark has never seen so many people on so little time leaving for a war zone. That is why PET is working intensely with key national figures who are in contact with the circles that the young fighters are associated with."

When the former head of PET, Jakob Scharf, and former Justice Minister Morten Bødskov (S) were in charge, they warned Danish Muslims fighting in Syria that they would face prosecution upon returning to Denmark, but so far none of the former fighters have been charged.



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