Yesterday, agents from PET, the Danish security police, arrested five terror suspects, among them three suspects with Swedish connections. Two of the arrested were Swedish citizens; Munir Awad, aged 29, and Omar Abdalla Aboelazm, 30 who were suspected of planning a terror plot against the Danish daily newspaper Jyllands Posten in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen.
The Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten has been under constant threat from terror organizations since a set of cartoons portraying the prophet Muhammad was published some five years ago.
The two Swedish citizens who were arrested yesterday in the terror cell crackdown have been detained in Denmark. A third suspect and Stockholm resident, Tunisian citizen Mounir Dhahri, aged 44 was also arrested. A fourth suspect, an 26-year old Iraqi citizen, has been released. An additional man, from Järfälla outside Stockholm, who had not been present in Denmark, was arrested today in Sweden.
Due to cooperation between the Swedish and Danish security police it was discovered that the terror cell, which has connections to an international terror network, used both Sweden as well as Denmark as bases for planning the attack against the Danish newspaper. Security authorities have confirmed that the planned attack had no connection with Iraqi-born Taymour Abdelwahab, the Swedish suicide bomber who blew himself up in central Stockholm in the middle of December this year.
According to SÄPO, the Swedish security police, the threat had been recognized already months ago. Anders Danielsson, chief of SÄPO, stated in an interview:
- “We have had them under intense surveillance and have been prepared to make an arrest”
Munir Awad, who is one of the arrested Swedes, has been arrested twice before on suspicion of terror crimes but has been realeased with help of Swedish authorities. The first time was in 2007 in Somalia and the second occasion was in 2009 in Pakistan. The prior arrests were made because he was suspected of collaborating with Al Qaeda. Now Awad, Omar Abdalla Aboelazm and Mounir Dhahri are detained suspected of plotting a terror crime in Denmark.
The Danish security police PET believe that the attack could have been similar to the Bombay attacks in India in 2008, involving a shooting massacre. Jacob Sharf, head of PET states in an interview:
- Our understanding is that the plan was to enter Jyllands Posten’s building and make an attack similar to the one in Bombay- killing as many as possible. This is a terror attack we have seen to be preferred by terrorists”.
At the time of the arrest PET found a submachine gun, a silencer, a handgun as well as live ammunition.
The Jyllands massacre plot, like the Stockholm bombing, comes in the wake an Al Quaeda audio statement attributed to Iraqi-based senior operative Abu Suleiman al-Nasser earlier this month. The statement released over the internet warned that the Stockholm attack was "only the beginning of a new era in our jihad". Suleiman called for NATO member states to "withdraw their troops from Afghanistan immediately and unconditionally," and to "stop their war against Islam." He also stated that failing to do so would mean that "you'll have no security" and that countries could "expect that we will strike at the heart of Europe." Note that Western countries frequently state that they are not at war with Islam, yet Islamic terrorists seem to have no problem declaring war on the citizens of Europe.
The latest development of terror threats in Scandinavia clearly shows that terrorism has become a threat not only to the “provocative” Danish but also to Swedish society. Sweden seems to have thought that they were untouchable by terrorists. This has clearly been proven wrong—as was demonstrated when Sweden recently faced its first suicide bombing attack. Let’s hope that 2010 brings a change in the mindset of the Swedish security police and lawmakers. Only a change in understanding and subsequent changes in handling Muslim extremism may put a halt to terrorism—or at least make it harder for terrorists to use Sweden as a safe haven for terrorist activities.