Close to a year ago, a senior British police officer came to Denmark to talk about why police has to work with extremists in order to fight terrorism. So is it really surprising that the Danish security service is now following his advice? PET has made deals with extremists before (see the case of Force 17), so they might just be setting themselves up for another investigation a few years down the road.
Btw, interesting that this article talks about ethnic minorities rather than Muslims. Does this mean PET doesn't speak with Danish Muslim converts? They sometimes seem to be the most extreme. One of Denmark's most extremist imams is a Danish convert, Abdul Wahid Pedersen. Political correctness apparently had to choose between protecting religion vs. ethnicity, and chose for the former.
Threat of terror is now so imminent that PET, the domestic intelligence agency, is willing to co-operate with controversial groups to stop extremism, reports Politiken newspaper.
Jakob Scharf, head of PET, said that terrorist activities have reached such a level that in one or two places in Denmark at any given time, individuals or groups of militant Islamists are in the midst of planning terrorist activities, either here or abroad.
'I can't say how many people or groups we're talking about, as it changes all the time,' Scharf said. 'But we're constantly watching several groups and our investigations show that there are increasing numbers of young extremists who have the ability and will to participate in terrorist activities.'
PET assessed that certain groups have become more professional and that many have international affiliations.
'The groups have more money, better methods and they're connected to international networks with young recruits, who are potential suicide bomber candidates,' he continued.
A recent terror case where eight suspects were arrested on terror charges last autumn in the 'Glasvejssag' (Glasvej street case) involved links to al-Qaeda.
Scharf said that the increased terrorist activities had contributed to PET having to conduct 'dialogue' meetings with controversial people from ethnic minorities who were able to connect with young extremists.
'In the past few years, we've held several meetings with a group of moderate imams, but there's no point in having meetings with them as they have no clout with the young extremists,' Scharf said.
He said that it was more important to be in dialogue with those who could influence the young people, even if their viewpoints were controversial.
He also acknowledged that it seemed provocative to invite those with extreme religious views to these dialogue meetings, but he emphasised that PET's job was to prevent terrorist activities, and if meeting with these people could help in doing so, then PET's job was done.
'Religion is an important starting point, but not the only one,' he said. 'We need to reach out to ethnic groups and find the people who can get hold of these young extremists before it all results in violence and terror.'
The agency had studied their counterparts in Holland, the UK and Canada, where similar meetings had produced positive results.
Source: Copenhagen Post (English)
See also: UK police: you can't fight terror without working with extremist Muslims, Denmark: Force 17 Office, Copenhagen