Accessibility links

Breaking News

Reports: Danish Gunman Swore Allegiance to IS Leader

An undated picture released by Copenghagen police in 2013 shows the man suspected of killing two people in shootings in Copenhagen. He has been identified in several Danish media outlets as Omar el-Hussein.

Danish media report the Copenhagen man who attacked a free-speech seminar and a synagogue last weekend swore allegiance to the Islamic State leader just six minutes before he unleashed his deadly barrage of gunfire.

The reports Tuesday said 22-year-old gunman, Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein, made a Facebook post pledging fealty to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The gunman said he was committed to "Abu Bakr in full obedience in the good and bad things. And I will not dispute with him unless it is an outrageous belief."

Meanwhile, the Danish Security and Intelligence Service said it had been warned last September by the country’s prison service that Hussein, who had been serving time for a vicious stabbing of a passenger on a train, was at “risk of radicalization.”

But the security service, known as PET, said it “had, against the background of the alert from the Prison and Probation Service, no reason to believe the now deceased [Hussein] was planning attacks.”

Hussein was released from prison two weeks before he killed one person and wounded three police officers at a café where the free speech seminar was being held, and hours later killed a guard at a bat mitzvah ceremony at the synagogue. Still later, Hussein was killed by police in a shootout.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said Monday authorities were investigating Hussein’s background and connections, but had “no indication” he carried out the attacks as part of an Islamic terror cell.

The Danish premier said the gunman was born in Denmark, and police knew him "for several criminal acts" and gang connections. But she said investigators have not linked the suspect to an Islamic cell "that took him to where he was now."

Thorning-Schmidt and the Danish crown prince joined about 30,000 people in Copenhagen in the bitter Monday cold at a solemn memorial for the shooting victims outside the Krudttoenden cultural center.

Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who is known for provocative drawings, including a 2007 cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad that led to threats against the 68-year-old cartoonist, said he thought he was probably the target of the attack at the cafe. The French ambassador to Denmark, Francois Zimeray, also attended the discussion. Both were unharmed in the shooting.

Thorning-Schmidt called the two shootings a "cynical act of terror against Denmark." But she said the attack was "not a conflict between Islam and the West. This is not a conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims." Rather, she said, "This is a conflict between the core values of our society and violent extremists."

Danish police arrested two men Monday on suspicion of helping the gunman, by giving him "advice and assistance." A Copenhagen judge ordered the suspects held for 10 days while police continue their investigation.

Threats and attacks against cartoonists whose work has angered some Muslims began with the publication of 12 editorial cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005. The paper said the cartoons, most of which depicted the Prophet Muhammad, were part of an attempt to contribute to the debate about criticism of Islam and self-censorship.

The cartoons eventually led to protests around the world, including violent demonstrations and riots in some Muslim countries.

Between October 2005 and early January 2006, examples of the cartoons were reprinted in major European newspapers from the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia, Romania and Switzerland. After major international protests, they were re-published around the globe, but primarily in continental Europe.

Many violent plots related to the cartoons have been discovered in the years since.

Artists other than cartoonists have also been the targets of Muslim ire for their work. British-Indian author Salman Rushdie's novel Satanic Verses led to death threats made against him, including a fatwa calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who was then the Supreme Leader of Iran, in 1989.

Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was killed in November 2004 by a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim angered by Van Gogh's short film Submission, which criticized the treatment of women in Islam.