Spotlight on the Global Jihad: February 12-18 2015

זירת הפיגוע הראשון מבין השניים בקופנהאגן

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The scene of the first of the two terrorist attacks in Copenhagen
The scene of the first of the two terrorist attacks in Copenhagen

The main events this past week were the shooting attacks in Copenhagen, carried out by the same terrorist. The first targeted an event held to sponsor art and freedom of expression, the second a synagogue where a Jewish bat mitzvah celebration was in progress. Two people were killed (one Jewish) and five wounded. ISIS operatives continue to threaten Western European countries with more terrorist attacks.

In Libya ISIS continues to strengthen its foothold. In a showcase massacre in the “Tripoli province” of the Islamic State in Libya, 21 Egyptian Coptic immigrant workers were abducted and beheaded on a beach. The beheadings were accompanied with a threat to the Christian world from the knife-wielding executioner: “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission.” Egypt’s immediate reaction (the day after the beheadings) was to carry out airstrikes on ISIS targets located in the areas of Dernah and Sirte in Libya.

In Syria and Iraq there were no significant new developments. In Syria ISIS, under pressure from the Kurds, continues its retreat from the rural area around Kobanî; in Iraq it had local successes in the regions around Samara and in the Al-Anbar province.

Two shooting attacks in Copenhagen

On the afternoon of February 14, 2015, and at about one a.m. on February 15, 2015, there were two shooting attacks in Copenhagen, Denmark, both carried out by the same terrorist operative. The first occurred during a cultural event in a café in the northern part of the city, and the second during a Jewish bat mitzvah celebration in a synagogue. Two people were killed and five wounded. On February 16, 2015, tens of thousands of people attended a memorial gathering for the victims held in the center of Copenhagen.

Initial information about the attacks:

The shooting attack at the Krudttoenden Café in the northern part of Copenhagen:

At 15:30 hours on February 14, 2015, a terrorist entered the café and opened fire. At the time an event entitled “Art, Blasphemy and the Freedom of Expression” was in progress. The terrorist fired scores of bullets. One of those present was Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who published allegedly insulting cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in 2007 (for which he received death threats). Also present was François Zimeray, the French ambassador to Denmark, who, after the terrorist attack on the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo, spoke in favor of the right to freedom of expression in Denmark. Vilks and Zimeray might have been the targets of the attack. Finn Norgaard, 55, a local movie producer was killed and three policemen were wounded.

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The shooting attack at the Jewish bat mitzvah celebration in the Krystalgade Synagogue:

At 01:00 hours on February 15, 2015, an armed man entered the synagogue on Krystalgade Street in central Copenhagen and opened fire. Dan Uzan, 37, a member of the Copenhagen Jewish community, was securing the entrance and was shot in the head and killed. Two policemen also securing the event were wounded. The armed terrorist fled the scene.

The Danish police said in an announcement that based on video surveillance films, one man carried out both attacks. He was cornered and killed in a shootout with the Danish police at the Copenhagen train station (near his house) about four hours after the attack on the synagogue. According to the Danish media, he was Omar Abd al-Hamid al-Hussein, 22, born in Copenhagen, the son of parents of Palestinian origin. He was known to the Danish law enforcement authorities for committing violent felonies and gun possession (he was released from prison two weeks before the attacks). Weapons were found when his house was searched. After the attacks two individuals were taken into custody on suspicion of aiding and abetting. The Danish security services have not yet revealed what motivated him, however, they are of the opinion he operated alone and had been influenced by the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

According to the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz correspondent in Copenhagen, Omar Abd al-Hamid al-Hussein’s name was on a short list of prisoners who had undergone radical Islamization while in prison, but nevertheless his activities were not being monitored. According to the Danish daily newspaper Ekstra Bladet, Omar al-Hussein posted a video supporting jihad to his Facebook page a short time before the attacks (, February 17, 2015).

The terrorists’ modus operandi in Copenhagen was similar to the attacks carried out in Paris in January 2015. In both instances they were carried out by local jihadist or jihadists who had been influenced and inspired by global jihad organizations to carry out attacks on individuals regarded as having insulted the prophet Muhammad, combined with attacks on Jewish community institutions. Omar Abd al-Hamid al-Hussein may have been copying the attacks in Paris.

In ITIC assessment, one of the factors responsible for the attack was the intensive propaganda and incitement of ISIS and other jihadi organizations calling on Muslims in Western countries to carry out attacks where they live if they cannot join the fighting in Syria and Iraq. Such incitement may have also motivated jihadist Muslims living in Denmark.


Written by: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC)