Overview: The Kingdom of Denmark, which includes Greenland and the Faroe Islands, remained an important U.S. partner in the global fight against terrorism. As an active participant in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and the Global Counterterrorism Forum, Denmark cooperated closely with the United States on counterterrorism initiatives. Denmark devoted significant assets to counterterrorism programs and countering violent extremism initiatives, domestically and abroad.
According to the Center for Terror Analysis (CTA), administered by the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET), the terror threat to Denmark remained “significant,” the fourth of a five-level ranking system (minimal, limited, general, significant, and very significant). The CTA characterized the terror threat to Greenland and the Faroe Islands as “minimal.” CTA assessed that the primary threat to Denmark was attacks perpetrated by individuals in Denmark and abroad who sympathize with and are inspired by what PET labels as “foreign militant Islamist terrorist groups,” including ISIS and al-Qa’ida.
According to PET, at least 160 individuals from Denmark have traveled to Iraq or Syria to join “militant Islamist groups” since 2012. Nearly half of these individuals have either returned to Denmark or relocated to another country. PET also characterized the domestic terrorist threat from what the government terms “right-wing extremists” as “general.” While CTA assessed the COVID-19 pandemic was not a driver of terrorism in Denmark in 2021, it notes it is likely the pandemic has contributed to strengthening existing anti-government narratives among right-wing extremists.
2021 Terrorist Incidents: There were no terrorist incidents in the Kingdom of Denmark reported in 2021.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Danish National Police are responsible for law enforcement services in all regions governed by the Kingdom of Denmark, including Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Denmark continues to use its 2006 terrorism legislation that allows information sharing between its agencies responsible for counterterrorism and foreign terrorist fighters — PET and the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (DDIS). Efforts to counter terrorism also are shared among the Danish Police, the Public Prosecution Service, and the Danish Prison and Probation Service. Danish security and law enforcement agencies share information through the CTA, which — as the Danish government’s intelligence fusion center — constitutes the focal point for reporting from the Danish National Police, PET, DDIS, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Danish Emergency Management Agency. The Danish police and the Danish defense forces share responsibility for preventing terrorist attacks in Copenhagen and along the borders.
PET arrested 13 individuals in Denmark on February 6 and 8 who were charged with planning one or more terrorist attacks or being accessory to attempted terrorism.
In September, Danish courts sentenced Danish citizen Abdullah Akbulut to 10 years in prison for planning a terrorist attack after his 2020 arrest and charged him with attempted terrorism. Akbulut, who also holds Turkish citizenship, was stripped of his Danish citizenship and will be deported with a permanent ban on reentry once he completes his prison sentence.
In August, a Danish woman was sentenced to five years in prison for having traveled to Syria in 2016 to join ISIS. She also was charged with helping recruit a family member to join ISIS. She has been in custody since her arrest at Copenhagen Airport in 2020.
In October, the government repatriated three Danish citizen mothers, along with their 14 Danish citizen children, from northeastern Syria with the assistance of the United States. The three mothers were arrested on arrival and charged with promoting terrorism. PET maintains it is unlikely that repatriating the children would pose a terrorist threat, noting that this would depend on whether the government offers them deradicalization and reintegration support.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Denmark is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international money laundering and terrorist financing monitoring organization. Its Financial Intelligence Unit, the Money Laundering Secretariat, is a member of the Egmont Group. FATF’s February report recommended that Greenland and the Faroe Islands strengthen their anti-money laundering and terrorist financing measures to address the vulnerabilities of the territories. Denmark is also a member of the Defeat-ISIS Counter-ISIS Finance Group.
Countering Violent Extremism: Established in 2017, the Danish Centre for Prevention of Extremism is responsible for preventing extremism nationally, locally, and virtually. Aarhus, Copenhagen, Gentofte, Guldborgsund, and Viborg are members of the Strong Cities Network. Denmark was also a contributor to the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund.
International and Regional Cooperation: Much of Denmark’s multilateral engagement to prevent and combat terrorism is guided by the UN’s Global Counterterrorism Strategy, which was most recently revised in June. Denmark continued to strongly support counterterrorism efforts in regional and multilateral organizations, including the Global Counterterrorism Forum, NATO, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, INTERPOL, Club de Berne, and the European Counterterrorism Center. Denmark also is among the founding members of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition and is in the Foreign Terrorist Fighter, Counter-ISIS Finance, Stabilization, and Communications Working Groups. Denmark continued to lead the NATO Mission Iraq in 2021. Throughout 2021, Denmark continued to contribute personnel to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali and the French-led counterterrorism mission in the Sahel. Denmark also contributed troops to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan before withdrawing in June.