Government to crack down on Syrian fighters

Figthers going to Syria could face being charged with terrorism when they return home to Denmark

The government and secret police agency PET have launched a new strategy aimed at preventing Danes from travelling to Syria to participate in the country's on-going civil war

PET teamed up with the Justice Ministry, who fear that the combat training and radicalisation experienced by foreign fighters in Syria make them a national security risk when they return home.

“There is no doubt that the issue is one of the most serious security risks to the Danish society at the moment,” Jakob Scharf, the head of PET, told Politiken newspaper.

PET’s latest threat assessment revealed that at least 65 people are currently, or have in the past, participated in the conflict in Syria. Five of them are known to have been killed.

The strategy will abide by existing laws, but the fighters face dire consequences when they return home.

“We keep an eye on the fighters who leave and when they return. They need to understand that it is immensely dangerous to go over there and they also risk legal prosecution when they return home,” the justice minister, Morten Bødskov, told Politiken.

PET said that once it becomes aware a Dane is fighting in Syria, it will inform the tax authorities, Skat, and find out where the money for their journey stems from. Council governments will also see if the fighters are receiving public assistance.

PET is also looking into whether it will be able to deport foreigners with permanent residence in Denmark if they are deemed to be a threat to society, while they will also work towards charging Danes who have fought in Syria with violating terrorism laws.

“That’s a very strong and powerful statement. The risk of radicalisation is so great that such a reaction is necessary,” Magnus Ranstorp, a Swedish terrorism expert, told Politiken, pointing to the many fighters joining up with Al-Nusra, which is considered by the UN to be a terrorist organisation. “That means these people can no longer be treated as freedom fighters and Denmark should prosecute them.”

And PET believes that the Danish terrorism laws offer enough grounds to prosecute the fighters who join Al-Nusra.

“Of course, it is a difficult situation now that there is an armed conflict which is also dedicated to overthrowing an illegitimate regime, but I believe our legal framework is sufficient,” Scharf said.

But the right-wing Dansk Folkeparti (DF) argued that Bødskov and PET’s efforts are inadequate and delayed.

“I don’t see why they have not already begun taking away the residencies from these terrorists,” Martin Henriksen, the integration spokesperson for DF, told Berlingske newspaper. “If there are 65 people who have gone to fight a holy war, then there should be 65 residence permits that have been cancelled, or alternatively their Danish citizenships.”

  • How internationals can benefit from joining trade unions

    How internationals can benefit from joining trade unions

    Being part of a trade union is a long-established norm for Danes. But many internationals do not join unions – instead enduring workers’ rights violations. Find out how joining a union could benefit you, and how to go about it.

  • Internationals in Denmark rarely join a trade union

    Internationals in Denmark rarely join a trade union

    Internationals are overrepresented in the lowest-paid fields of agriculture, transport, cleaning, hotels and restaurants, and construction – industries that classically lack collective agreements. A new analysis from the Workers’ Union’s Business Council suggests that internationals rarely join trade unions – but if they did, it would generate better industry standards.

  • Novo Nordisk overtakes LEGO as the most desirable future workplace amongst university students

    Novo Nordisk overtakes LEGO as the most desirable future workplace amongst university students

    The numbers are especially striking amongst the 3,477 business and economics students polled, of whom 31 percent elected Novo Nordisk as their favorite, compared with 20 percent last year.