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|Martin Barillas||February 15th 2015|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Danish police report that they have shot to death a man believed to have attacked a synagogue and a cafÃ© in Copenhagen. Police say they killed the man in the Norrebro district after he opened fire on them near a rail station at approximately 5 am on February 15. It came hours after one person was killed at a Krudttonden CafÃ© where a conference was taking place on free speech rights and the Islamic definition of blasphemy, while another was killed at the Grand Synagogue in the Danish capital. Five police officers were injured during the two affrays. Video surveillance suggested the same man carried out both attacks. However, they do not believe any other people were involved.
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt declared after the synagogue attack, "The Jewish community belong in Denmark."
Danish intelligence said investigators theorize that the gunman may have been inspired by the shootings in Paris last month. The attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine, a kosher supermarket, and a policewoman claimed 17 lives. The gunman in question had been under suspicion for some time and police are now working to determine whether he had travelled to Syria or Iraq. Danish authorities say they have knowledge of the shooterâ€™s identity, but have not released details about him or his possible connections to terror groups such as Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State.
Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said it was "a very sad morning" and described the shootings as "a cynical act of terror against Denmark." She added, "We do not know the motive for the alleged perpetrator's actions, but we know that there are forces that want to hurt Denmark. They want to rebuke our freedom of speech.'' She also said that her government everything in its power to protect Jews living in Denmark. Thorning-Schmidt was among the many mourners who placed flowers at the synagogue.
On Feb. 14, a gunman attacked a free-speech debate hosted by controversial Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks. Vilks had received multiple death threats and survived assasination attempts since his cartoon depicting Mohammed was published in a Swedish newspaper and offended Muslims. The victim of the first attack is film director Finn Norgaard (55). The perpetrator then fled by car, which was a black Volkswagen Polo that was found abandoned. The gunman then hailed a cab and went home.
Subsequently, the gunman opened fire outside a synagogue in Krystalgade street, about 2 miles from the scene of the first attack, killing a security guard and wounding two police officers. The victim was named as Dan Uzan (37). Uzan was shot in the head. He had been on security duty while a bat mitzvah ceremony was taking place inside the synagogue. Denmark's Chief Rabbi described Uzan as an â€œamazing, irreplaceableâ€ man.
Using information from the cab driver, police identified the address near the railway station in Norrebro. They released photos showing the alleged attacker wearing a purple balaclava and a puffy insulated jacket. When the assailant returned to his home in Norrebro, police were waiting for him. When he saw the officers, the assailant pulled out a gun and opened fire. They returned fire and shot him dead.
In September of this year, it will be a decade since the the depictions of Mohammed appeared in the Jyllands Posten newspaper that offended Muslims worldwide. There were 12 cartoons of the founder of Islam, including one of him with a bomb in his turban. Denmark had been alert since 2005, when its embassies in the Mideast were burned and Danish products boycotted by Muslims.
Kurt Westergaard (79), who was the cartoonist who drew the caricature of Mohammed with a bomb in a turban, has spent 10 years living under an official death sentence issued by Muslim authorities. He escaped an attempt to kill him by hiding in a panic room when a Somali terrorist broke into his home in Aarhus. Lars Vilks has also been under police protection and has survived attempts on his life since his cartoons of Mohammed appeared.
French President Francois Hollande said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve would visit Copenhagen, and US National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the White House had been in touch with their Danish counterparts and were ready to help with the investigation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Jewish people in Europe to migrate to Israel following attacks on Jews in recent weeks. "This wave of attacks will continue. I say to the Jews of Europe - Israel is your home," he told his cabinet. British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned shootings as â€œappalling attack on freedom,â€ while carnival in Germany has been cancelled after â€œconcrete threat of attack.â€
Cutting Edge Contributor Martin Barillas also edits Speroforum.com