Danish police nab suspects over alleged Hamas plot against Jewish, Israeli targets

Israel says terror suspects planned to kill ‘innocent civilians in Europe’; Danish PM cautions against bringing conflict into Danish society as police up security at Jewish sites

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks with the media as she arrives for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Thursday, December 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks with the media as she arrives for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Thursday, December 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Danish police arrested at least four suspected Hamas operatives who were planning to carry out a terror attack on Jewish or Israeli targets, Jerusalem said Thursday, as authorities in Denmark said they would up security at Jewish sites.

The arrests, which were carried out in coordinated actions across Denmark and the Netherlands, “thwarted a terror attack plot that aimed to kill innocent civilians in Europe,” according to a joint statement from the Mossad spy agency and the Shin Bet security service released by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

Danish police announced the arrests of four suspects — three in Denmark and one in the Netherlands — while the PMO statement cited seven arrests. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

In the Netherlands, broadcaster NOS reported that a 57-year-old Dutch man was arrested in Rotterdam based on a request from German authorities.

The Netherlands recently raised its terror alert level, citing Israel’s war with Hamas.

“This is extremely serious,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a European Union summit in Brussels. “It shows the situation we are in in Denmark. Unfortunately.”

“It is absolutely true when both [Denmark’s intelligence agencies] say that there is a high risk in Denmark,” Frederiksen added. “It is of course completely unacceptable in relation to Israel and Gaza, that there is someone who takes a conflict somewhere else in the world into Danish society.”

Jerusalem accused the Hamas terror group of increasingly seeking to sow terror across the continent.

“In recent years, and more since the murderous onslaught on October 7, Hamas has been striving to expand its operational capabilities around the world and especially in Europe to realize its ambitions of targeting Israelis, Jews and Westerners at any cost,” the Israeli intelligence statement said.

Flemming Drejer, operative head of Denmark’s Security and Intelligence Service, known by its acronym PET, said that Denmark was not changing the terror threat level, which has been at “serious,” the second-highest level, since 2010.

“It is a serious situation,” Drejer said during a press conference, adding the arrests were “carried out in close collaboration with our foreign partners,” and said those arrested were part of “a network.”

He said police had “a special focus” on Jewish institutions but did not elaborate.

Danish police are expected to increase security at Jewish sites and across Copenhagen, Reuters reported. Jewish community leaders said they had been briefed about the arrests before the public, according to the news agency.

Drejer said that the case had “threads abroad” and “was related to criminal gangs,” singling out the banned gang Loyal to Familia.

Chief police inspector and operational chief of PET Flemming Drejer, right, and senior police inspector and head of emergency services in Copenhagen Police Peter Dahl give a press briefing on coordinated police action, at the police station in Copenhagen, Denmark, December 14, 2023. (Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

In January 2020, a Danish court upheld a nationwide police ban on the gang, saying that the LTF should be dissolved as illegal under Denmark’s constitution.

The gang had been behind feuds, violence, robberies, extortion and drug sales in the Danish capital and “had used violence and illegal means to achieve its goal,” the Copenhagen District Court said then. In September 2018, police in Denmark issued a temporary ban against the LTF and said anyone seen wearing its logo could face prosecution.

“Persons abroad have been charged,” he said, adding that the suspects would face a custody hearing within 24 hours, likely behind “double closed doors,” meaning that he could not give details about the case, any target or motive.

War erupted between Israel and Hamas after the terror group’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages, mostly civilians. Israel’s retaliatory offensive in Gaza, aimed at eliminating Hamas’s military and governance capacities, has drawn international criticism for its mounting death toll.

Earlier this month, the European Union’s home affairs commissioner, Ylva Johansson, warned that Europe faced a “huge risk of terrorist attacks” over the Christmas holiday period due to the fallout from the war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas.

Denmark’s foreign intelligence service, known as FE, reported Thursday in its annual assessment for 2023 that “the war between Israel and Hamas has once again shown that unresolved conflicts in Europe’s immediate area can escalate rapidly and create widespread regional instability.”

In July 2022, a gunman at the huge Field’s shopping center on the outskirts of Copenhagen killed three people and injured seven. The man, who believed the victims were zombies, was charged with murder and attempted murder and ultimately sentenced in July to detention in a secure medical facility.

In 2015, a 22-year-old Danish Muslim gunman killed two people and wounded five others at a free speech event and a synagogue in Copenhagen.

Earlier this month, the Danish parliament passed a law making it illegal to desecrate any holy text, after a handful of anti-Islam activists carried out public desecrations of the Quran, sparking angry demonstrations in Muslim countries.

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