May 19. 2024. 1:09

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Terror threats in Denmark take new shape


Denmark is facing new forms of terrorist threats, including anti-authority extremism and a so-called new ‘hybridisation’ phenomenon, while Islamist terrorism remains the main threat to the country, the annual assessment of Denmark’s Centre for Terror Analysis published Tuesday writes.

In its annual report, the Centre for Terror Analysis – working under the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) – identified the main terrorist threats in the country.

Although the Islamic State and Al Qaeda have been weakened on the ground, including in the Middle East, the terrorist groups have “far from disappeared.”

According to the Security and Intelligence Service, Islamist terrorism has the capacity, intent and opportunity to plan attacks against Denmark and Danish interests.

Last year, Denmark doubled down on punishing terrorism, increasing prison terms and sentences.

According to PET, the terrorist threat has not increased since last year, even if it has been assessed as “serious”. Danes themselves are at low risk of being targeted by terrorism.

Regarding threats to elected officials or so-called ‘anti-authority terrorism’, PET mentioned it in its report for the second year in a row, as it has become a genuine concern since the start of the pandemic.

But this year, another new concept has been included in PET’s assessment: hybridisation. According to PET, this term covers extremists who cannot be categorised as belonging to one specific political view or ideology as their worldview is based on a mixed set of narratives.

“We can see that there is a growing trend in the West and in Denmark that individuals are increasingly putting together a cocktail of their own world and enemy images, which are characterised by ideological and religious beliefs,” Michael Hamann, Head of the Centre for Terror Analysis (CTA), said.

The CTA report suggests that the hybridisation involves a combination of conspiracy theories and personal factors, including mental illness and ‘enemy’ images – including digitalisation, the climate crisis, pandemics, and Russia’s war against Ukraine. The prevalence of disinformation and misinformation on the internet also characterises this new form of extremism.

This type of threat has the potential to influence, mobilise and radicalise not only existing extremists but also people who have not previously been extremists and may inspire or legitimise influential persons – including persons with mental disorders – to act violently, the CTA report writes.

One notorious example of hybridisation of extremism was seen among those who attacked the US Congress on 6 January 2021. In Denmark, the Permanent Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office, Barbara Bertelsen, was assigned permanent bodyguards for protection last year due to her role in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Rhetoric directed at specific individuals such as elected officials or certain professionals” has grown especially online, said Hamann, adding that these individuals “serve as common reference points for anti-authority extremists in particular”.

In Denmark, the terrorist threat level posed by left-wing extremists remains ‘minimal’, while that of right-wing extremists remains ‘general’ – like in other Western countries.

(Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)