Denmark may officially support the opposition forces in Syria, but that does
not mean that Danes can legally travel to Syria to fight alongside the
“The government will not accept young people going out to fight for militant
Islamist groups and being radicalised in other countries. That makes them a
potential threat to Danish society when they come back,” Justice Minister
Morten Bødskav says.
While it is legitimate for Denmark and Danes to support the rebels in Syria,
Bødskov says they should not travel to the country.
“It’s fine to help people in Syria – you should not, however, go down there.
If you are in doubt as to how you can help, you can call the police or
foreign ministry and I’m sure there are people there who can help make sure
that the support is channelled to the right humanitarian organisations,”
Today’s move comes three months after the Danish Security and Intelligence
Agency PET raised the issue of some 45 people it said had taken part in the
fighting in Syria. Since then that figure has risen to 65, five of whom are
said to have been killed.
The justice minister and ET are now to introduce rules which will include
serious sanctions for those who travel to Syria to fight.
“Young people should realise that it is dangerous to go down there and that
they risk criminal cases when they come back. They will also be in PET’s,
the police and other authorities’ searchlight,” he adds.
The strategy to be used involves, among others, the Tax Authority, social
services, police and other relevant authorities.
Asked whether the threat of losing social security payments is likely to keep
people from travelling to Syria, PET Chief Jakob Scharf is sceptical.
“No I don’t think that in isolation it will be a deterrent. It is an attempt
to tell the young people who have plans to travel to Syria that society will
be making a major effort – not just that PET will be monitoring them, but so
will a long list of other authorities,” Scharf says.
He adds that such travels can also affect their future ability to travel, as
PET shares information with other intelligence agencies both in Europe and
“There is a close and highly developed cooperation in which we exchange
information about these people,” Scharf says, adding; “We have already seen
instances in which people from Denmark have been unable to get into other
Bødskov says that Danish legislation allows the prosecution of people who have
been fighting for militant Islamists in Syria, despite the fact that the
Danish government supports the fight against the Assad regime.
“These young people should not have the misconception that because what is
going on is happening in Syria, it cannot be illegal, or that it is too
complicated for the authorities to investigate cases, Bødskov concludes.
FACEBOOK – Follow
Politiken’s News in English