Denmark Tries a Soft-Handed Approach to Returned Islamist Fighters

Anthony Faiola and Souad Mekhennet, Washington Post, October 19, 2014

The rush of morning shoppers parted to make way for Talha, a lanky 21-year-old in desert camouflage and a long, religious beard. He strode through the local mall with a fighter’s gait picked up on the battlefields of Syria. Streams of young Muslim men greeted him like a returning king.

As-salamu alaykum.

Wa alaikum assalaam.

In other countries, Talha–one of hundreds of young jihadists from the West who has fought in Syria and Iraq–might be barred from return or thrown in jail. But in Denmark, a country that has spawned more foreign fighters per capita than almost anywhere else, the port city of Aarhus is taking a novel approach by rolling out a welcome mat.

In Denmark, not one returned fighter has been locked up. Instead, taking the view that discrimination at home is as criminal as Islamic State recruiting, officials here are providing free psychological counseling while finding returnees jobs and spots in schools and universities. Officials credit a new effort to reach out to a radical mosque with stanching the flow of recruits.

Some progressives say Aarhus should become a model for other communities in the United States and Europe that are trying to cope with the question of what to do when the jihad generation comes back to town.

For better or worse, this city’s answer has left the likes of Talha wandering freely on the streets. The son of moderate Muslim immigrants from the Middle East, he became radicalized and fought with an Islamist brigade in Syria for nine months before returning home last October. Back on Danish soil, he still dreams of one day living in a Middle Eastern caliphate. He rejects the Islamic State’s beheading of foreign hostages but defends its summary executions of Iraqi and Syrian soldiers.

“I know how some people think. They are afraid of us, the ones coming back,” says Talha, a name he adopted to protect his identity because he never told his father he went to fight. “Look, we are really not dangerous.”


“They are being much too soft [in Aarhus], and they fail to see the problem,” said Marie Krarup, an influential member of Parliament from the Danish People’s Party, the country’s third-largest political force. “The problem is Islam. Islam itself is radical. You cannot integrate a great number of Muslims into a Christian country.”


“It doesn’t feel strange, being back,” said Talha, as he passed an organic juice stand at a local mall. Four blond Danish girls eye him warily. He is well known here, a heroic figure among his Muslim peers, many of whom know he fought in Syria and greet him with hand on heart and a respectful nod. “It’s home.”

He was born in Denmark, to an immigrant family that hailed from a nation bordering Syria. {snip}


“You cannot believe everything you hear about the Islamic State,” Talha said. “There may be bad things, but also good things.”

He returned to Denmark for a few months in 2013, telling his mother–but not his father–what he had done. Since his own religious awakening, he had persuaded her to start wearing a head scarf, and she became more religious herself. But “she cried when I told her where I had been,” he said. When he returned to Syria a few months later, she did not try to stop him.

Talha came back to Denmark last October, when bouts of infighting broke out among rival factions. Since then, he has had one meeting, he said, with a police official who questioned him about his plans and intentions. Under Aarhus’s program, he was offered–and accepted–taxpayers’ help for the math classes he needs to enter engineering school.

Yet, because counseling is voluntary, he has opted to skip the therapy sessions he says he doesn’t need. He wants no harm to come to Denmark, he said, but bemoans what he describes as a mounting anti-Islamic sentiment in the media and national government.

“I don’t see how that helps,” he said.


Danish authorities say the vast majority of the 30 or so Aarhus residents who went to Syria were somehow linked to one of the most polarizing houses of worship in Europe–the Grimhojvej mosque. Talha began to worship there four years ago, two years before he left for Syria. He found the mosque through a childhood friend who helped him leave behind what he described as a world of secular vice. Parties with Danish teens. Drinking. Girls. “That’s my past,” he said. “Not my present.”

But Talha wants to make one thing clear. He, like the mosque leadership, denies that Grimhojvej recruited him and other fighters.


The mosque opened in 2008 and, in recent years, absorbed the congregation of a nearby mosque that closed and where several men had been previously detained on terrorism charges. One of its current imams is under investigation in Germany for inciting hate during a visit to Berlin in July. From 2008 to 2013, another imam–Abdessamad Fateh, a 46-year-old Moroccan immigrant also known as Abu Hamza–preached at Grimhojvej. After spending five months in Syria, he is back in Aarhus. According to Arab intelligence officials, he recruited Westerners–including a young Danish convert to Islam–to fight in Syria and Iraq. This month, Fateh was added to the U.S. list of suspected terrorists thought to have ties to al-Qaeda.

Inside the converted ice factory that houses Grimhojvej, Oussama el-Saadi, the mosque’s chairman, dismissed the allegations with a wave of his hand. If they are guilty of anything at Grimhojvej, he says, it is simply of being devout believers. “We have the right to our faith,” he said.


Since January, police and city officials have engaged in a number of unprecedented sessions hosted by the mosque. In the presence of mosque leaders, police and city officials met with returned fighters like Talha to assess their risk levels. They also met with members of the mosque’s youth group to dissuade other young Muslims from traveling to the Middle East. In monthly meetings, city officials, police and members of the mosque hierarchy are now debating religious ideology, Danish law and freedom of speech.

The mosque still openly backs a caliphate in the Middle East, refuses to offer a blanket denunciation of the Islamic State and warns that Denmark’s recent decision to join the U.S.-led coalition in airstrikes against the militant group may only fan the fires of homegrown terrorism.

Yet Grimhojvej has undeniably nuanced its public position, rejecting, for instance, the Islamic State’s beheadings of foreign hostages. Saadi denies allegations that the mosque became a recruiting center for militants, saying it did not discourage or encourage those who wanted to go and fight. But now, its official line–at least in public–is that the young Muslims of Aarhus should stay home.

Police officials say the statistics prove their approach is working.

“In 2013, we had 30 young people go to Syria,” said Jorgen Ilum, Aarhus’s police commissioner. “This year, to my knowledge, we have had only one. We believe that the main reason is our contact and dialogue with the Muslim community.”

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  • Instead, taking the view that discrimination at home is as criminal as Islamic State recruiting

    This kind of ideological cultism will be the death of Western civilization.

    • propagandaoftruth

      Never ceases to infuriate.

  • phorning

    He says they have a right to their faith. Is that true in Denmark? Do they have a legal right to freedom of religion?

    • none of your business

      Yes, since 1849. Before that all religions but the official Lutheran Church were forbidden and criminalized. For more than 300 years other forms of Christianity were forbidden but now they are promoting islam and its primitive adherents. Wonder if anyone in the families of jihadi fighters ever worked a day since they arrived in Denmark. Maybe if they didn’t have welfare and had to work they might have had something to occupy their days. But he generous Danish welfare system supports them in leisure so they can spend their days at the mosque getting ready for jihad.

  • libertarian1234

    Denmark deserves EXACTLY what it is going to get which is arrogant, out-of-control activity right along with threats of terrorism every time these jihadists want to rattle the chains of the idiotic white weenies in charge by rioting and hostile, hateful protests in the streets.

    And there WILL be terrorism too. And it will be predicated on whatever the caliphate may feel like doing on any given day or whenever they feel that Islam has been disrespected by Denmark.

    The radicals in the US go out of their way to grovel and plead with blacks not to riot, even going so far as to side with them when they scream their baseless allegations when one of their thugs is murdered in the commission of a crime, which is usually when he is trying to kill someone. And that cowardly policy has resulted in more riots. And why not? They get freebies and usually whatever they want when then destroy, loot, burn, kill and maim.

    You have copied the US weenies, Denmark, but you haven’t been bright enough to understand that by placating your homegrown enemies you have made their behavior worse and they despise you for your spineless, weak-kneed foppery.

    They have no respect for you, just as the blacks have no respect for the white fools here.

  • DaveMed

    “It doesn’t feel strange, being back,” said Talha, as he passed an organic juice stand at a local mall. Four blond Danish girls eye him warily…

    Oh, brother. The WaPo couldn’t keep the “racist” angle out of this, could they?

    Of course, this kind of article only serves to vindicate our “racist” and “Islamophobic” views.

    • DD-762

      Apparently those four blond Danish girls mentioned in the article did not get the memo.

      What memo, you ask? Google “Why blond Danish and Scandinavian women dye their hair black to prevent getting raped? Hint: It has something to do with Muslin men?

    • newscomments70

      Be that as it may, I’m glad they eye him warily.

  • Chip Carver

    I’ll say it again; who is running the show there in Denmark? Certainly no sane white person would do this. Who is behind this? Either it’s people who are totally brainwashed, complete robots, or it is the work of people claiming to be Dutch but something else entirely, their allegiance belonging to some other power.

    • Dwight

      Didn’t bother to check yourself? Just thought you’d throw that out there to feed the conspiracists?

      • Trevor Pilsbury

        Helle Thorning-Schmidt is the Prime Minister of Denmark. She was appointed by Queen Margrethe II on 3 October 2011.

        The Danish Immigration Service, which handles refugees, immigrants, and integration, is headed by Director General Henrik Grunnet.

        Both are quite white and quite liberal.

      • Cecil Broomsted

        It is very easy to make accusations and just leave it there. This requires little thinking. When you shoot high and miss, your argument falls apart.

        • Diversity Fatigue

          This is one of the reasons I have always respected Jared. I am convinced that he maintains the correct perspective on this. It is easy to assume the herd mentality and believe there just has to be some secret power controlling and destroying us instead of taking responsibility ourselves and seeing the problems caused by our own kind. As someone else here said, “There is plenty of blame to go around.”

    • Sparky

      I’ll say it again and with actual proof: whites are their own biggest enemies. They need little help from anyone else.

      • Ella

        There is self-hatred. You think Whites await for the Knight in Shining Armour to save the nation from exaggerated self-indignation.

        • Cecil Broomsted

          This national and racial self-destruction is both evil and very common in all white nations. Whites are very prone to see others as individuals rather than as members of groups. This is peculiar to whites and is rarely observed in nonwhites. As we have seen in Ferguson, Mo., blacks from all over the nation immediately band together as a racial group when a single member of their race is perceived to have bern wronged. Even the president quickly displays his racial loyalty to Trayvon Martin and Mr. Brown. The attorney general flies into Ferguson to show his racial loyalty. Whites don’t understand this type of behavior because they assume that non-whites see others as individuals just as they do. This isn’t the case at all.

          Now we see this typical white behavior with non-white Muslims in Denmark, France, the UK, and so on. Liberal whites and those who are racially blind want to view these Muslims as individuals and therefore will focus only on the ideology of Islam. In this way the egalitarian myth is preserved, the fact that thesr people are racial aliens in the West and do not belong amongst our people can be ignored. In the the minds of leftists the Muslims themselves are to be accepted as equals — only their religion is to be judged. They therefore welcome in these alien people with open arms into their countries with absolutely no clue that what they are actually doing is akin to welcoming the Ebola virus into a healthy body. Miscegenation which destroys the white race is also to be welcomed because we are all just members of “the human race.” Observe please, that whites and only whites view racial aliens in this way. Non-whites are acutely aware of all things race and use that quietly against whites to their own advantage. In the end, whites will lose their nations or wake up at a late hour and then be forced to take up arms to preserve themselves.

      • Chip Carver

        Oh, I think that there are some “True Believers”. But the anti-white animus and self hatred was planted by someone else, nurtured. And people try to sidetrack or make light of this fact by calling it a “conspiracy theory”, as if conspiracies don’t exist. The people in charge belittle conspiracies because as a group they have been involved in so many of them. And you don’t need a conspiracy as much as you need a determined group of people, it can be a small group, dedicated to getting something done, plying their trade amongst an atomized, larger group of people who are unaware of what is going on, functioning as individuals, just going about the daily activities of their lives, not part of any political group.

        Just as there is no doubt self-hate amongst some whites, there is absolutely no doubt there exists a separate group working to destroy whites and the West. And no amount of subterfuge or denial can change this fact.

    • none of your business

      Communist feminazis who found that atheist Soviet communism did not work to destroy the west so they switched to religious fanatic arabs. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

  • MekongDelta69

    How about Midnight Basketball? Or maybe Midnight Beheadings?

  • I hope the Islamitard goes back.

  • Luca

    What a novel approach the Liberal Danes have! Perhaps they should welcome the rapist into their homes and make sure they have warm milk and cookies after their daughters and wives are raped. Yes, I am sure you could take tolerance to that level.

    Oh yes, the brave Denmark who held out against the Nazis for two whole hours and then let the allies do the dirty work.

    What a bunch of delusional idiots.

    • B.A_2014

      Why has he not been arrested?

      Are they planning to arrest him?

      Please tell me he’s under watch?

    • newscomments70

      “Perhaps they should welcome the rapist into their homes and make sure they have warm milk and cookies after their daughters and wives are raped. ” They have already done that. The prison sentence in Scandinavia for rape is usually probabation, or less than two years in a country club-like prison.

      • thegodsofeden

        Probably the only way to rehabilitate a rapist, short of execution, is castration. I’m talking the whole shebang.

        • newscomments70

          a forced sex change for convicted terrorists would be an effective deterrent, as well.

    • Adolf Verloc

      I think you are a little unfair about the Nazis. Denmark is a tiny country without any mountains or other chokepoints. The Danes resisted both violently and non-violently during the war, particularly in terms of hiding Jews from the Nazis. Their descendants show a shocking indifference toward evil.

      • Luca

        I am not being unfair, I am being accurate. Even Holland held out for two weeks and offered resistance. The Danes rolled over played dead and collaborated.

        • Denmark could not have offered useful resistance, any more than Luxembourg. Since under Nazi ideology the Danes were Volke von gleichen Bloede, they were safe.

          • Luca

            I believe the German word you were looking for is Blut, or Geblut as in blood or lineage.

      • Charlie

        National Socialism was the last great hope for the Western World…the practice of Democracy, has been proven to be a disaster, because of Jewish lobbyists and White Liberals, who work, 24/7, for the destruction of the Western World…when dealing with non-White races, you can’t use “democratic” measures, when dealing with them…you have to understand, that Democracy is alien and foreign to all non-Whites, for their brutal and tribal nature is intolerant of passive and enlightening ways…the Mexicans, who number some 40 million as we speak, are not going to leave, just because you wave a magic wand, and say “abracadabra”…the Muslims aren’t going to leave Europe, just because Europeans say “pretty please leave, pretty please”? Europeans and White Americans, have totally and completely lost their tribal nature, which is vital and imperative for the survival of a race and civilization…as time grows on, Europeans and White Americans will get more and more passive, and apathetic, to their eventual and inevitable, demise…

  • OS-Q

    “officials here are providing free psychological counseling while finding returnees jobs and spots in schools and universities”

    Danish anti-whites welcome their returning veterans.

    • Who Me?

      Isn’t that nice? A 23 year old ISIS fighter sitting in the classroom with your 15 year old daughter. When (not if) she gets raped go complain to your ANTI-RACIST (and ANTI-WHITE) government–as if they care.

      • OS-Q

        The governments of Europe would tell you that she wasn’t covering her wrists, ankles, and chin – so it was her fault. Afterwords they would likely prosecute you for complaining.

        • thegodsofeden

          All hail Sharia Law! F that!

  • Brian

    The problem isn’t how they are dealt with but that they are dealt with at all. The left loves to present these problems as inevitable; something we just have to face. How do we reintegrate jihadists into our society? It’s a problem we’re going to have to face!

    No it isn’t. Just ban them. And while we’re at it, send their children, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins.. the whole despicable lot of them back where they came from. It’s not impossible. a few thousand full airliners returning to the middle east.

    This is a deliberate tactic by the left to force its agenda on a reluctant public by making decision seem like a fait accompli. Let’s talk about How, because there’s no use in debating if we’re going to do something, so don’t bother!

  • Truthseeker

    The son of moderate Muslim immigrants from the Middle East, he became
    radicalized and fought with an Islamist brigade in Syria for nine months
    before returning home last October.

    They always start as “moderates,” don’t they? All the more reason not to let them in: Even the “moderate” ones are ticking time bombs.

    • IstvanIN

      There are no moderate Muslims, simply apathetic ones.

      • Adolf Verloc

        Excellent point, and one that is often overlooked. I know many Muslims who drink alcohol, dress scantily and avoid the mosque. They are not moderates but the equivalent of “Christmas and Easter Christians.” Within the religion, there is no clear firebreak between mainstream Islamic theology and that of ISIS.

        • thegodsofeden

          And the Qur’an allows a Muslim to do those things (drink alcohol, dress scantily and avoid the mosque) if it is done with the intention of fooling and then destroying the infidel.

  • IstvanIN

    I have a simple solution: stop all non-Danish immigration to Denmark and any Muslim who leaves the country has his citizenship revoked and is never allowed back in. That way the authorities can claim they are not harming “moderate Danish Muslims”.

  • Islam means submission. Ultimately, the Danes will either submit or rediscover their Viking roots and play hardball by kicking the muzzies out. If the Danes go Muslim, the race will ultimately disappear through miscegenation with Muslim males. That would be a sad day for connoisseurs of beauty. It’s hard to picture a beautiful Danish girl with a moustache.

    • SlizzardAjeosshi

      Tragic and funny at the same time

  • NoMosqueHere

    “The son of moderate Muslim immigrants from the Middle East, he became radicalized and fought with an Islamist brigade in Syria…”

    He is the son of so called “moderate muslims?” Let’s assume, against sound judgment, they are moderates. It’s all the more reason to ban all muslim immigration, if this muslim vermin was produced by moderates.

    • thegodsofeden

      And just remember, when the press says “moderate Muslim(s)”, that it is a self-reported ‘moderation’ by the Muslim(s) in question. I can self-report anything I want to about myself, but without proof, it means nothing.

      P.S. My IQ is like in the 170s

  • Homo_Occidentalis

    In Denmark, not one returned fighter has been locked up. Instead, taking
    the view that discrimination at home is as criminal as Islamic State
    recruiting, officials here are providing free psychological counseling
    while finding returnees jobs and spots in schools and universities.
    Officials credit a new effort to reach out to a radical mosque with
    stanching the flow of recruits.

    Why is it that the “whiter”/more nordic the country, the more pathologically altruistic the natives are? Reading this makes me feel like I’m in some parallel universe where any concept of sanity has been inverted. THE JIHADIS ARE RIGHT THERE, FOR CHRISTS SAKE. Why has won’t their god-forsaken state do something, other than giving them cushy desk jobs and tax-payer funded goodies?

  • M.

    “Instead, taking the view that discrimination at home is as criminal as Islamic State recruiting.”

    Of course it is. We shouldn’t discriminate against terrorists. Hell, we shouldn’t discriminate against any other form of criminals! We’ll just let them do their thing and walk scot free. That’s how tolerant we are!

  • TL2014

    If the Danes don’t rise up against their government’s criminal policy of unleashing the savages, they deserve it.

    Kind of like we Americans deserve Obama. Shoulda gone to that rally, supported that candidate, debated and confronted that idiot relative and fought till the death. Instead we gave up.

    • benvad

      We can only blame ourselves in the end because we let it happen.

  • Peter Connor

    Denmark is dead man walking.

  • Larry Klein

    The “psychological counseling” should be reserved for the masochistic idiots who thought up this novel (suicidal) plan

  • bubo

    The leftist insanity is too much to bear. Brevik should be released from prison immediately and made president of Norway.

    • benvad

      That’s what happens when people are pushed to their limits.

  • Thorsted

    I live in Denmark and there has been a re-print of that article in some danish news papers -and most people are angry about the naive policy and says that they should be strip for the right to be in the country. The current government would lose big in the next election. The anti-immigration party is in some polls the biggest -between 23-25% of the voters.

  • How about boycotting Danish goods?

  • none of your business

    “Under Aarhus’s program, he was offered–and accepted–taxpayers’ help for the math classes he needs to enter engineering school.”
    So his math is not good enough for regular admission to engineering school.