How Denmark’s unexpected killer slipped through the net

Reuters reports: On Valentine’s Day, two weeks after his release from prison, Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein walked up to a Copenhagen cafe hosting a debate on freedom of speech and sprayed it with bullets.

As a manhunt began, the 22-year-old went to ground. Nine hours later he launched a second assault, this time on a synagogue. Police eventually shot him dead, ending a rampage that left Danish filmmaker Finn Noergaard and security guard Dan Uzan dead, and six people wounded.

The attacks on Feb. 14 and 15 shocked Danes, who prize their country’s openness and sense of security. The country was further confounded when it emerged that prison officials had warned Denmark’s domestic intelligence agency that Hussein was at risk of being radicalized. If Denmark’s prison system – famed for its focus on rehabilitation and education over punishment – could not prevent a young man from turning into an Islamist killer, then perhaps it was not the model that many Danes believe it was. Parliament demanded an inquiry into the attacks and how both the prison system and the municipality had handled Hussein’s case.

In interviews with dozens of people, including a former cellmate and a source familiar with the as-yet unpublished official investigation, Reuters has learned new details about Hussein and his final months. His story seems to show how quickly people can be radicalized and how easily they can slip through the net, even a net as supportive and ostensibly secure as Denmark’s. [Continue reading…]

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