Denmark widens terror probe as alleged Hamas members arrested in Germany

Danish police holding 2 in custody in terrorism investigation; Berlin says 3 arrested there suspected of planning attacks on Europe Jewish targets; no confirmed links between cases

File - Two suspects are led from a helicopter to a car by police officers at a helipad in Karlsruhe, Germany, December 15, 2023. (Uli Deck/dpa via AP)
File - Two suspects are led from a helicopter to a car by police officers at a helipad in Karlsruhe, Germany, December 15, 2023. (Uli Deck/dpa via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark is holding two people in custody and four others are the target of a terrorism investigation, a prosecutor said Friday, in a case that coincided with an arrest in the Netherlands and several in Germany of alleged Hamas members.

Authorities in Germany said three people arrested there were suspected of preparing for attacks on Jewish institutions in Europe. Danish authorities said that one person was arrested in the Netherlands, but it wasn’t clear if there were any ties to the Hamas investigation in Germany.

Denmark hasn’t cited an alleged Hamas link in its investigation. The two people being held in Denmark were ordered to remain in pretrial detention until January 9. Danish media identified them as a man in his 50s and a 19-year-old woman.

Danish intelligence agency PET on Thursday announced the arrests of three people on suspicion of plotting to carry out “an act of terror.” One of them, identified by Danish media as a 29-year-old man, was released, prosecutor Anders Larsson said early Friday after a night-long custody hearing at a Copenhagen court.

Larsson also said that four other people were held in “pretrial custody in absentia,” but he didn’t say whether authorities knew their whereabouts or if an active search for them was underway. Without elaborating, he said there was “still someone at large.”

None of the suspects can be identified because of a court order, and the custody hearing was held behind “double closed doors” — meaning no details were available about the case, which is shrouded in secrecy.

Senior police inspector and head of emergency services in Copenhagen Police Peter Dahl gives a joint press briefing at the police station in Copenhagen, Denmark, December 14, 2023. (Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

A joint statement from the Mossad spy agency and the Shin Bet security service released by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Thursday said that the arrests “thwarted a terror attack plot that aimed to kill innocent civilians in Europe.”

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

German prosecutors allege that the three men detained in Germany on Thursday were tasked with finding a previously set-up underground Hamas weapons cache in Europe. “The weapons were due to be taken to Berlin and kept in a state of readiness in view of potential terrorist attacks against Jewish institutions in Europe,” they said.

On Friday, a judge ordered the three men detained in Berlin to be held in custody pending a possible indictment for being members of a foreign terrorist organization, prosecutors said. A fourth suspect in the German case was taken into custody on Thursday in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam.

German prosecutors alleged the suspects “have been longstanding members of Hamas and have participated in Hamas operations abroad.” They said the suspects were closely linked to the leadership of Hamas’s military wing, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

Earlier this month, the EU’s home affairs commissioner, Ylva Johansson, warned that Europe faced a “huge risk of terrorist attacks” over the Christmas holiday period amid the Israel-Hamas war.

War erupted in Gaza after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw 3,000 terrorists storm the border with Israel, killing 1,200 and kidnapping over 240 people — mainly civilians — amid horrific acts of brutality.

In response, Israel launched a wide-scale offensive on the Gaza Strip, which is governed by Hamas, and vowed to destroy the terror group’s military and governance capacities.

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)

At a European Union summit on Thursday, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen mentioned the Danish, German and Dutch cases but declined to tie them together. She said the wider picture for security in Europe was worrying.

“We have seen how ships are attacked in the Red Sea off Yemen,” she told a press conference in reference to a ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels that slammed into a cargo ship Friday in the Red Sea, following another attack only hours earlier that struck a separate vessel.

“Individually, these incidents are serious and worrying, but together they paint a picture of something bigger. That we are facing a more serious and complex threat picture,” she said. “It is very, very serious.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: