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Denmark Arrests Nine Suspected of Plotting Terror Act

Bloomberg | September 5, 2006
By Tasneem Brogger

Danish authorities arrested nine people suspected of planning a terrorist attack, the country's police intelligence service said.

Officers detained the suspects at 2 a.m. local time in the Odense area, on the island of Funen, the service said in an e- mailed statement. All will make a preliminary appearance at a closed court session in the city later today, and police will request that they be held in jail.

The arrests in Odense, about 90 miles (144 kilometers) west of the capital Copenhagen, were made after police uncovered evidence that a number of the suspects had ``materials that can be used for the construction of explosives in connection with preparation for an act of terror,'' service head Lars Findsen said in the statement.

``This is very serious, one of the most serious cases that has occurred in Denmark ever,'' Justice Minister Lene Espersen told broadcaster TV2.

Since the arrests, police have been in contact with ``key people in the Muslim community,'' Findsen said. The suspects are men aged between 18 and 33, Findsen told TV2. ``Some of the men are of non-Danish, ethnic origin and some are ethnic Danes,'' Findsen told state broadcaster Danmarks Radio. The suspects are Danish residents with close links to the country, Espersen told Danmarks Radio.

`Sympathize With Terror'

``One of the most terrifying aspects to this case is that we're dealing with people who actually had a close link to Denmark,'' Espersen said in an interview with Danmarks Radio television. ``We know there are people who have an antipathy toward the Danish society and who actually sympathize with terror.''

Police didn't know ``precisely'' how advanced preparations were for an attack. ``We didn't want to run any risks and therefore decided to act now,'' Findsen said.

``The case doesn't have any immediate impact on the security threat, which is already heightened'' in Denmark, Findsen added.

``I find it natural that the police intelligence service doesn't want to run any unnecessary risks when confronted with the suspicion that there might be preparation of a terrorist act under way,'' Espersen said in an e-mailed statement.

Danish intelligence and security have been stepped up since the Nordic country was singled out as a target by al-Qaeda after the July 7, 2005, London bombings. Denmark, like the U.K., is part of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. There are 470 Danish soldiers there, and 360 more in Afghanistan, according to the Defense Ministry Web site.

Cartoons, Soldiers

``I'm afraid that there might be a terror act in Denmark because there are troops in Iraq and I'm scared about what al- Qaeda might do if Denmark doesn't recall its troops back home,'' Imam Abu Bashar, who lives near three of the suspects, told Danmarks Radio.

A Danish newspaper last September published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that linked Islam to terrorism. Muslim protests, including consumer boycotts, flared after Danish imams went to the Middle East in December to rally support against the Nordic country for not censuring the paper.

The cartoons were published in the Jyllands-Posten newspaper and some were reprinted in Norway, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy, where editors said they were defending freedom of expression. The publication prompted protests in countries including Afghanistan, Indonesia, Pakistan and Iraq.

On Aug. 24, Denmark's Justice Ministry charged four men, arrested in October, for allegedly having attempted to commit terror acts in collaboration with two suspects detained in Bosnia. The two Bosnian detainees, a Dane of Turkish origin and a Swedish citizen, are being tried at a court in Sarajevo.

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