HELSINKI —  Denmark’s Ministry of Defence will have a broader national security role under a government move is primed to play a key role in a proposed radical move by the Danish government to strengthen anti-terrorism laws and deal more effectively with radicalized Danish citizens and residents. fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and other extremist jihadist groups. 

The change mooted by Denmark, which has been a prominent European target for Islamic jihadist terror groups since the controversial publication of the Prophet Muhammad Mohammed cartoons by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005, would make fighting for foreign terrorist groups a treasonable offense. 

The maximum prison sentence for treason in Denmark currently stands at 16 years.

Sweden, which has also been threatened by ISIS and other extreme Islamic terrorist groups, is considering the introduction of similar legislation. to enhance its national security apparatus. 

Per capita, Denmark has become the second biggest European country of origin for jihadist fighters, after Belgium, going to fight in Iraq and Syria.

The tightening of Danish national security legislation is being backed by a growing commitment by Denmark to use its military resources to fight the Islamic State militant group ISIS as part of US and NATO international coalitions. alliances in the Middle East.

As part of its national security and stability mechanisms, Denmark also intends to introduce laws that make it harder for the children of foreign parents born in Denmark to gain citizenship. 

Intended legislation is directed at protecting general national security and those Danish military forces engaged in fighting militant Islamic groups in the Middle East, said Søren Pind, Denmark's justice minister.

"The change would mean that the rules that govern treason will be modified so that persons can be punished for working against the national interests of Denmark. There is no doubt that what we are seeing is treasonous. This runs counter to Danish interests, it radicalizes people against Denmark and it contributes to them fighting for Denmark’s enemies," said Pind said. 

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has sought advice and recommendations from the Criminal Code Council, (Straffelovrådet) which serves as the ministry's MoJ’s constitutional expert body on new legislation formation and amendments to existing laws. 

"Denmark is now one of the countries that produces the most radicalized persons fighting in Syria. This is a situation we are taking very seriously," Pind said.

A recent report produced by the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET/ Politiets Efterretningstjeneste) estimated that at least 115 Danish nationals or radicalized non-nationals residents in Denmark have joined the Islamic State group as foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq since 2010. 

The PET report calculated that about 20 of this number have been "killed in action."

The Danish MoD will, Under the proposals to bolster surveillance of proposed bolstering serveillance of of terror groups and to invoke charges of treason, the Defence Ministry will -centered surveillance and treasonable actions legislation, have a broader role to play in national security and intelligence gathering.

Peter Christensen, who replaced Carl Holst as defence minister on Sept. 30, will oversee the broadening of the military's intelligence-gathering resources both in Denmark and abroad, including specialized Danish forces operating overseas.

The government plans to invest a further US$155 million to implement tougher anti-terror national security measures between 2016 and 2019. Around 50 percent of this funding is being allocated to the Danish Defence Force’s Intelligence Service. (Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste).  

The primary focus will be militant Islamic groups, with additional funds being made available to military and national security agencies to better monitor radicalized Danes traveling abroad to fight with the Islamic State group.

A large part of the military intelligence’s increased budget will be directed at improved information gathering to trengthen Denmark’s capacity to prevent militant Islamic State militants terrorists from returning unnoticed to Denmark. from the Middle East and North Africa.

The intelligence service Under the intelligence report, PET will see increased funding of $31 million to bolster its surveillance capabilities and develop specialized operatives units. 

"We need a higher level of security to protect all of our national interests. Any persons leaving Denmark to join ISIS and fight against Danish soldiers are committing treason," Mette Frederiksen, a former minister for justice and leader of the Social Democratic Party, said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

Under existing Danish legislation, radicalized fighters from Denmark can only be convicted if they are caught and charged with attacking Danish forces, or if they assist the enemy in battle against Danish forces.

As part of its counter-measures policy, Denmark dispatched an F-16 fighter squadron of seven aircraft to Kuwait in October 2014 to support the US-led international coalition action against ISIS in Iraq. 

The squadron, which is being recalled to Denmark to enable aircraft repairs, to the F-16 aircraft deployed, is estimated to have flown over 480 intelligence and enemy strike missions since October 2014, dropping more than in excess of 425 bombs on ISIS combatants.   

"We intend to send our F-16s back to Iraq. ISIS needs to be fought and Denmark must carry its share of the load," Kristian Jensen, Denmark's foreign minister, said.

Denmark, which has also provided 120 military instructors to support the US training mission targeting the Iraqi Army, is expected to send a similarly sized fresh F-16 squadron to Iraq no later than June 2016.

The bill for direct Danish action against ISIS is expected to run close to $100 million in 2014. This includes the cost of maintaining its F-16 squadron and 90-man crew in Iraq.

The F-16 squadron had documented operating costs of almost US$34 million during the four month term to February 2015. During this period, Danish F-16s dropped an estimated 200 bombs in 200 missions. Munitions costs over the four months in question amounted to US$6.8 million.

Moreover, costs associated with Danish forces' operations in Afghanistan in 2001-2012 are estimated at over US$2 billion. Danish military operations costs in Iraq in 2003-2007, meanwhile, ran to around US$363 million, while the costs attached to Danish operations in Libya in 2011 amounted to almost US$100 million.

Denmark's Nordic neighbor Sweden is considering drafting legislation to make it unlawful for citizens to fight in armed conflicts alongside terrorist organizations such as ISIS.

"It is completely unacceptable that citizens of Sweden are leaving the country to either join ISIS, help finance this organization or fight for it," Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said.

The Justice Ministry plans to present draft legislation to the government in June 2016. The action forms part of tougher initiatives to stem the flow of foreign jihadists into Sweden.

Intelligence from Säpo, Sweden's national security service, estimates that over 40 radicalized Swedes, out of a total number of 150, have died fighting for ISIS against coalition forces in Syria and Iraq since 2010.

Sweden is committed to sending up to 120 troops to northern Iraq to train Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters as part of the US-led coalition against ISIS. The specialized Swedish troops will be under US command.


More In Home