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21 Mar, 2024 14:40

EU state warns of ‘increased’ terrorism threat

The Gaza war and a series of public Quran burnings have led to a heightened risk, Denmark’s security and intelligence agency says
EU state warns of ‘increased’ terrorism threat

The threat of terrorism in Denmark has “intensified” over the past year and remains ‘serious’ – the second highest of five levels – the national security and intelligence agency (PET) said on Thursday.

A fresh report by PET cited incidents in which copies of the Quran were desecrated last year, and Israel’s military operation in Gaza as the main factors that have contributed to the increased threat, which it described as having “intensified within the current level.”

The high number of civilian deaths in the Palestinian enclave as a result of the military action, which Israel claims to be aimed at eliminating the militant group Hamas, “stirs emotions” in many people, said Michael Hamann, the head of PET’s Center for Terrorism Analysis.

The war “contains a significant potential for radicalization and mobilization, which can potentially lead to spontaneous or planned actions in Denmark, including terrorist attacks,” he warned.

Israel launched its military campaign last October, responding to a deadly incursion into southern Israel by Hamas. The estimated Palestinian death toll has since surpassed 30,000 – and more than 70% of Gaza’s population is facing “catastrophic hunger,” according to a recent UN-backed report.

Hamann also referred to a series of Quran burnings and other publicity stunts purportedly defending free speech in the EU over the past year. The Danish parliament passed a law last December, criminalizing the “inappropriate treatment” of religious texts, effectively outlawing such protests.

According to the security official, “even minor incidents in Denmark” involving the Quran “can spark global reactions,” considering how fast and wide information can spread online. The country raised its terrorist threat level to its current position last August amid a backlash over the book burnings. Sweden’s national security service also raised its terrorist alert to the second-highest level last August, citing the same reason.

Hamann said the threat was likely to remain high “for at least the coming year,” as Denmark is seen as a “priority target” for terrorist activity.