Danish jihadist reportedly killed in Syria

Abu Khattab was reportedly killed in northern Syria but his brother denies the claim

A renowned Danish Salafist has reportedly died while fighting in Syria, Politiken newspaper reports.

In August, Abu Khattab appeared in a video that was filmed in Syria, in which he called for fellow Danish Muslims to join the battle against the Syrian regime. It marked the first Danish-language video to emerge encouraging participation in the ongoing Syrian Civil War.

"My dear brothers, jihad is the greatest reward. […] You should come too. This is the best thing to do, to strengthen the Islamic people and the Islamic state,” Khattab proclaimed in the video.

READ MORE: Danish-speaking Salafist incites jihad in Syria

Fighting for Islam
Khattab appeared in a second video in which he and three others – at least one of which also spoke Danish – fired guns at images of six Danes that they declared were enemies of Islam.

A member of Khattab’s family and two acquaintances have now independently verified to Politiken that he was killed while fighting in northern Syria.

The newspaper also reports that his family has been visited by friends wishing to express their condolences.

READ MORE: Islamists point their guns at Danish critics

Died in battle
Khattab allegedly died in November but Politiken has yet to verify the exact battle in which he was killed. Two other Danish fighters were reportedly injured in the same incident.

Despite the independent reports that Khattab has died, the Islamist group Kaldet til Islam (Called to Islam), denied that he is dead. 

“Abu Khattab is still alive, insha’Allah,” Kaldet til Islam spokesperson Abu Abaydullah told Politiken. Khattab’s brother, Abu Farroq, also wrote in an email to Politiken that reports of Khattab’s death were “lies” but declined to elaborate. 

Khattab was a prominent member of Called to Islam.

READ MORE: Government to build on anti-extremism strategies

Foreign fighters
According to the domestic intelligence agency PET, around 80 Danes have travelled to Syria to fight since 2012 and around seven have died in battle.

The government and PET have expressed concern about the risk of radicalised Danes returning from fighting in Syria and last week promised to strengthen anti-extremist strategies.

“All forms of extremism, in which people or groups attempt to push their views through violence or other illegal acts, present a threat to our democracy,” Justice Minister Karen Hækkerup (S) wrote in a press release.

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