Report: Suspected Gunman Behind Copenhagen Attacks Recently Released From Jail

Danish police shoot and kill suspect in fatal attacks: one dead in Copenhagen synagogue shooting, hours after man killed at free speech event; Danish PM: The Jewish community is not alone.

Policemen are seen along a street in central Copenhagen following shootings at a synagogue
Policemen are seen along a street in central Copenhagen following shootings at a synagogue in Krystalgade, February 15, 2015. Reuters

One person was fatally shot in the head and two policemen were wounded outside a Copenhagen synagogue late Saturday night, hours after a shooting at a free speech event in the Danish capital killed one and wounded three. 

Police said they shot and killed a suspect in the attack, and that another suspected accomplice had been arrested. At the same time, police raided the Copenhagen home of the terrorist and found a gun.

The suspected gunman was a Danish-born 22-year-old known to police because of past violence, gang-related activities and possession of weapons, police said in a statement on Sunday. 

According to Danish media, the suspect's name is Omar El-Hussein, and he was only recently released from jail, after serving a sentence for aggrevated assault. Police haven't confirmed the name.

Earlier, the Danish intelligence agency said investigators have identified the suspect and that he is someone who had been on the agency's "radar." He did not reveal his identity.

Copenhagen Synagogue.
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Danish media reported police also raided an internet café in the Norrebro neighborhood in the capital and arrested two people. It was not reported if the arrests were linked to the shootings.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt condemned the “cynical act of terror” against Denmark."We will defend our democracy. When the Jewish community is attacked, the whole of Denmark is attacked," the premier told reporters. "The Jewish community does not stand alone."

"We don't know the motive for the attacks but we know that there are forces that want to harm Denmark, that want to crush our freedom of expression, our belief in liberty. We are not facing a fight between Islam and the West, it is not a fight between Muslims and non-Muslims," she added.

Hours after the attack, Danish police shot and killed a man near Noerrebro train station, close to the sites of the attacks, who had fired at them first. The police said they assumed the man killed was the gunman responsible for both shooting in Copenhagen.

"We assume that it's the same culprit behind both incidents, and we also assume that the culprit that was shot by the police task force on Norreport station is the person behind both of these assassinations," Chief police inspector Torben Molgaard Jensen told reporters. 

Investigator Joergen Skov said the shooter was confronted by police as he returned to an address that they were keeping under surveillance. Investigators described him as 25 to 30 years old with an athletic build and carrying a black automatic weapon. They released a blurred photograph of the suspect wearing dark clothes and a scarf covering part of his face.

The victim of the synagogue shooting was Dan Uzan, a 37-year-old member of the local Jewish community who was guarding the building while a bat mitzvah ceremony was underway inside, according to the head of Denmark's Jewish community.

Dan Rosenberg Asmussen told Danish television that 80 people were gathered in the synagogue.  

“I dare not think about what would have happened if (the killer) had access to the congregation,” Rosenberg Asmussen said. According to AFP, police were stationed outside the synagogue after community leaders contacted authorities following the earlier gun attack.

 

The first shooting, on Saturday afternoon, killed 55-year-old Finn Nørgaard and wounded three police officers at a meeting attended by Lars Vilks, an artist who has received death threats since publishing images of the Prophet Mohammed.

Danish police said Vilks was the target of the attack. They added in a statement that they were looking for two perpetrators in dark clothing who drove away in a dark Volkswagen Polo that had been carjacked. The car was later found.

The cafe in northern Copenhagen, known for its jazz concerts, was hosting an event titled "Art, blasphemy and the freedom of expression" when the shots were fired.

Denmark's security service, PET, said the circumstances surrounding the shooting "indicate that we are talking about a terror attack."

Israeli politicians offer condolences

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Sunday evening with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and was briefed on the details of the terror attack in Copenhagen. Netanyahu told Thorning-Schmidt that he commends the actions of the Danish authorities and sends condolences from the Israeli people to the people in Denmark. "We share common values, and we must fight together against borderless terror," he said. "Countries that will not fight terror today will have to deal with much more serious terrorism later."

The head of the Zionist Union Isaac Herzog also spoke with Helle Thorning-Schmidt on Sunday evening, and expressed his deepest sympathies following the events in Copenhagen. Herzog was briefed on the efforts to locate and finally kill the terrorist. Herzog also spoke with Denmark's chief rabbi Jair Melchior and offered his support. Herzog told both Thorning-Schmidt and Melchior that the Israeli people share in the Danish people's pain and stand beside them in dark hours.

"Extreme Islamic terror is committing terrible, horrendous crimes," Herzog told Thorning-Schmidt. "All Western nations must battle it with all the power, resources and determination available. We, the countries' leaders, must restore the sense of security to our citizens, which has been lost." Terrorism in Gaza, Paris and Copenhagen is the same, added Herzog, and "in order to uproot the roots of hate from which it grows we must urgently establish an international coalition that will conduct this struggle as a powerful global and unyielding fight and bring with it bold political steps."

Earlier on Sunday, Herzog spoke with Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard to express condolences for the deadly terror attacks. Herzog said that Western countries must unite to ruthlessly confront terror and prevent the recurrence of such horrific attacks.

He added that Israel, which understands the pain of European communities affected by terror, stands by the Danish people and supports them during these trying times.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also spoke with Lidegaard following the Copenhagen attacks, telling him that Israel – which is all too familiar with terrorism – supports the Danish people.

Lieberman told Lidegaard that Israel appreciates Denmark's cooperation in protecting that country's Israeli and Jewish residents. He added that Israel is prepared to help in any way necessary and that the cooperation between the two counties would only grow stronger.