The Danish Muslim suspected of killing two people in separate attacks over the weekend harbored a hatred for Jews and enjoyed talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a former classmate told daily Ekstra Bladet in a report published Monday.
Omar El-Hussein, 22, was killed by police Sunday after staging at an attack at a free speech event in Copenhagen, killing one, and then shooting and killing a Jewish guard outside a synagogue several hours later.
Citing the Danish paper, the Israeli Ynet news website said a former classmate of El-Hussein described him as being passionate about his religion and the Middle East Conflict.
“He loved to discuss Islam,” said the man, identified only as Victor. “In particular, he often discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [And] he was not afraid to say openly that he hated Jews.”
Ekstra-Bladet said El-Hussein had been released from prison two weeks ago after serving a term for aggravated assault — raising fears he may have become radicalized behind bars.
Police said he had been flagged for violence and weapons charges in the past, and may have been behind a 2013 train stabbing.
Flags were flying at half-mast in Denmark on Monday after the attacks that targeted the cultural center during a debate on Islam and free speech and the city’s main synagogue.
A 55-year-old man identified by the media as documentary filmmaker Finn Norgaard was killed at the event, which was also attended by Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist behind a controversial caricature of the Prophet Mohammed, and the French ambassador.
In the second attack, the gunman opened fire outside the city’s main synagogue while a bar mitzvah was being celebrated, killing 37-year-old Dan Uzan, a member of the Jewish community who was guarding the building.
Police carried out a series of operations in the Copenhagen area on Sunday, including a raid on an Internet cafe in the inner city district of Noerrebro, the same area where the gunman was killed.
Two people were arrested and charged with aiding the gunman.