Today a court in Denmark found three Muslim men guilty of planning a terrorist attack. A fourth man was acquitted of the same charges. Two of the men, Mohammed Zaher, 34, and Ahmad Khaldhahi, 22, were sentenced to 11 years in prison, while the third, Abdallah Hansen, who is a convert, will have to spend four years behind bars. Khaldhahi who is not a Danish citizen will be expelled from the country after having served his sentence.
The four were arrested in September 2006 in Odense, Denmarks third largest city, in a big police operation. The police successfully planted an agent inside the cell, that according to the verdict was in the process of planning an attack. Two of the convicted have admitted that they tried to make a bomb, but they insisted that it wasn’t to commit a terrorist attack, just to celebrate a child’s birthday with fireworks.
During the arrests the police in the homes of the suspected found TATP, an explosive compound used in the 2005 bombings in London, fertilizer, hydrogen peroxide, sulphuric acid, acetone and other material that may be used to make explosives. They also found bomb-manuals downloaded from the internet, more than a hundred sound files with jihadist-material, speeches by Osama bin Laden, films about the London bombings in 2005, slips of paper filled with chemical expressions.
In the summer of 2006 the cell travelled to Copenhagen to point out possible targets for an attack, Denmark’s parliament and the newspaper Jyllands-Posten’s Copenhagen office. Earlier they had spoken about blowing up me and my house with a car bomb, just for fun, as they put it in court. A year before Ahmad Khaldhahi had written a letter of praise to Al Qaida’s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, saying that he wanted to go to Iraq and join the Jihad. Shortly thereafter he, in fact, travelled to Iraq, but in his own words he went to make a documentary. He only spent one week in Iraq, his country of birth.
In november of 2005 Ahmad Khaldhahi wrote to Osama bin Laden on an Al Qaida affilliated website that he was willing to volunteer to take revenge for the publication of the Mohammed cartoons in Jyllands-Posten. Three months later on another website he was asking for poison in order to kill those who had offended the prophet.
At one point the cell tested a bomb in a soccerfield, and all along they were downloading material from the internet that contained information about the art of bomb-making.
The conviction of the three is a victory for Denmark’s intelligence service. It was the first terror-case involving a policeagent. The defence had tried to point the finger at the agent inside the cell claiming that he had provoked the three to engage in the planning of an attack. This was refuted by the chairman of the court, and the jury followed his lead.
The prosecution had asked for sentences of 12-14 years. They said that they would not appeal the sentences. Magnus Ranstorp, a Swedish expert on terror, said to Berlingske Tidende that the verdict may have a deterring effect on people flirting with the thought of joining a jihadist group.
”The length of the sentences send a clear signal that if you go down this road, you risk harsh punishment. It may deter young Muslims, who are on their way into a radicial Islamist group. Hopefully they will think twice and turn their back on the group,” said Magnus Ranstorp.
On the contrary he indicated that these sentences will have no effect at all on the most committed Islamists.
”They think that the convicted are innocent victims, and the verdict will confirm their conspiracy theories about how Danish society is against Muslims and convict innocent people. But this kind of people is beyond reach anyway.”
The verdict was handed down on the same day as Prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen appointed his new conservative government after national elections was held on November 13. Fogh Rasmussen, a staunch ally of the US, is serving his third term as head of government.