Denmark Terror Attacks and Machine-Gun Censorship

Yet another attack on religious freedom in Europe.

Daily Beast foreign editor Christopher Dickey reports (“Barely a Month After Charlie Hebdo, Twin Terror Attacks Hit Denmark“) on yet another attack on religious freedom in Europe:

In normally quiet Copenhagen on Saturday afternoon, a gunman opened up on a café where Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks was to talk about why he drew the head of the Prophet Muhammad on the body of a dog back in 2007—and why he’d had to have armed guards since. Dozens of bullets blasted through the café windows, killing one person and injuring others before the attacker or attackers, at first believed to be two men, made an escape along narrow Sankt Peders Straede.


With the Danish capital on virtual lockdown, the killing continued, and the next target—in what is becoming a predictable pattern in Europe’s new age of terror—appears to have been a synagogue. It was the city’s most important, in Krystalgade, less than a ten minute walk from the scene of the first shooting. One person was killed nearby with a gunshot to the head and two police officers were wounded before the shooter fled once again.


Early Sunday morning, according to the BBC, police had staked out an address in the largely immigrant Norreboro district. When the man they were waiting for returned, he pulled out a gun and the Danish cops killed him.

“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… is the person behind both of these assassinations,” Chief Police Inspector Torben Molgaard Jensen told a news conference.

Danish authorities were appropriately cautious about assigning motives since no claim of responsibility has been made, but from the beginning there was little doubt in anyone’s mind that these were terrorist attacks along the lines of the slaughter at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last month, which also published caricatures of the Muslim prophet, and at a kosher supermarket where Jewish hostages were murdered. In all, 17 people were killed by terrorists in Paris over three days before all of the gunmen were shot down in separate police raids. In Copenhagen, the death toll stood at two civilians, with five police officers wounded and one potential suspect dead.

Now, as with the slaughter in Paris, the challenge for authorities will be to determine not just who did the shooting, but what connections that killer or those killers may have to larger organizations like the so-called Islamic State, widely known as ISIS, or Al Qaeda and its subsidiary Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In the terror attacks that struck Paris last month, the killers at Charlie Hebdo claimed connections to AQAP, while the thug who shot a policewoman and then took over a kosher delicatessen where he murdered four Jewish shoppers pledged his allegiance to ISIS. Conceivably the attacks in Copenhagen may have been the work of a lone gunman, but even if the man shot dead Sunday morning proves to have been the only killer at large in these incidents, it probably will take investigators a long time to unravel his potential links to others.

Dickey recounts the long string of such incidents since the killing spree sparked by some cartoons printed in Jyllands-Posten a decade ago.

FILED UNDER: Europe, Policing, Religion, Terrorism, World Politics, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Gustopher says:

    Another obvious question is where they got the guns — Europe generally has some pretty strict gun laws, and someone provided the terrorist with the guns.

    And, that someone is an accomplice — morally if not legally. They need to be pursued, and prosecuted as aggressively as possible.

  2. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    In Paris, the targets were a magazine that insulted Mohammed and a kosher deli.

    In Copenhagen, the targets were a cartoonist that insulted Mohammed and a synagogue.

    Anyone else seeing any themes here?

  3. Mu says:

    While most western states have relatively strict gun laws there’s a flourishing black market, especially in ex-Soviet military guns. When the Russian troops withdrew from East Germany, AKs traded for $200, Makarovs for $100. I’m sure the prices in Poland and the Baltic states were even lower. And because there are few guns there’s no routine “stop and frisk” in place to aggressively look for them.

  4. Tyrell says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Absolutely there is a pattern, plan, strategy, and organized force behind this and it will just continue to increase. It is just a matter of time before it spreads to Asia, Africa, South and Central America, and the US. Connections to ISIS have already been discovered in this country. The US is way behind .

  5. DrDaveT says:

    yet another attack on religious freedom in Europe

    What an odd way to phrase it.

    This was an attack on people, intended partly to make others think twice before saying irreverent things about the founder of Islam, and partly to kill Jews. In neither case was the perpetrator thinking about “religious freedom in Europe”. You might as well characterize the Holocaust as “an attack on religious freedom in Europe”. That might be true in a technical sense, as an aside, but it misses the main point. Badly.

    Don’t get me wrong — we agree that these were terrorist acts by someone whose long-term goal was to establish a particularly wretched flavor of Islam as the universal secular law. Calling that “an attack on religious freedom in Europe” seems to me to be too mild, too narrow, and somewhat tangential to his overriding purpose.

  6. PJ says:

    Meanwhile in Iraq.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    Would someone get Tyrell some Prozac?

  8. jewelbomb says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: What are you going on about? As if anyone denied that these attacks were motivated by an extreme reaction to a perceived slight on Islam.

  9. @Gustopher:

    Guns actually aren’t that hard to make. Part of the reason that the AK-47 is so ubiquitous in the third world is that it can be cheaply made with basic machining tools pretty much anywhere in the world. The resulting rifles won’t be nearly as accurate as one made in a high tech factory, but they don’t really need to be in most cases.

    See: Khyber Pass Copy

  10. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @jewelbomb: As if anyone denied that these attacks were motivated by an extreme reaction to a perceived slight on Islam.

    Two things:

    1) By one measure, it’s “extreme.” But by another — that it’s actually very predictable and common — it’s not “extreme.”

    2) The response is “let’s kill those who insulted Mohammed and some Jews!”

    But I’m probably imagining that last part. After all, we have Mr. reynolds assuring us that Tyrell is being hysterical in thinking that…

  11. Gustopher says:

    Other than the Christians in Uganda making homosexuality punishable by death, and other Christians in the US bombing abortion clinics and killing doctors, there’s really only religion in the world that tries to enforce its belief on others through violence.

    Let’s not pussyfoot around — Islam is a problem. It’s incompatible with a pluralistic society.

  12. @Gustopher:

    Nearly every religion in the developing world is violent. Orthodox Christians in the Balkans and Evangelical Christians in Africa have repeatedly been involved in ethnic cleansing of other religions. The current Prime Minister of India has been involved in widespread religious violence toward non-Hindus. Heck, even Buddhist religious violence is increasingly a problem in Sri Lanka.

    The only difference Islamic religious violence has is it has bled over into developed countries so that we can’t ignore it like all the other religious violence in the world.

  13. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Nearly every religion in the developing world is violent. Orthodox Christians in the Balkans and Evangelical Christians in Africa have repeatedly been involved in ethnic cleansing of other religions.

    Feel confident enough in that to take the Michael Graham Crusader Wager?

  14. CET says:


    I agree that Islam seems to have more than its fair share of violent nutjubs. I can’t tell how much of that is the specific religion per se though.

    My suspicion is that (1) Islam today is in a place roughly analogous to Christianity during the 30 years war and/or (2) people (especially marginalized people with no real hope for the future) have an inherent tendency towards violence for which religion provides a convenient excuse.

  15. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Feel confident enough in that to take the Michael Graham Crusader Wager?

    Who decides what deaths qualify as “having been commited in the name of Christianity”? Because I’m sure that, as always seems the case, Michael Graham has all these rationalizations about how all Christian violence doesn’t really count.

  16. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Because I’m sure that, as always seems the case, Michael Graham has all these rationalizations about how all Christian violence doesn’t really count.

    And in the spirit of tu quoque, I’ll mention how many times the Oklahoma City bombing has been called “Christian terrorism,” despite Timothy McVeigh being a staunch atheist.

    But here are a few qualifications I’d consider: if it’s a “lone wolf,” it doesn’t count. If it’s a group action, then it counts. If the actor belongs to a faith, it doesn’t count. If they explicitly link the action to the faith, and cite scripture or a religious authority as their justification, it counts.

    Those soi-disant “Christians” in Africa? Sure, what the hell.

    The guy who killed those three Muslims in North Carolina? Nope.

    The guy who killed Dr. Tiller five years ago? Debatable.

  17. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’ll mention how many times the Oklahoma City bombing has been called “Christian terrorism,” despite Timothy McVeigh being a staunch atheist.

    OK. Now, what’s your source for determining how many terrorists from the Islamic world are actually devout, as opposed to simply using the religion as a convenient uniform?

  18. An Interested Party says:

    It’s time for Doug to write another “both sides do it” post because, in this case, they really do

  19. Matt says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I know a few people who made AK style rifles for themselves. They started with some sheet metal and various parts. They did all the stamping bending and welding. They did this following the letter of the law and the resulting guns are legal semi-automatics.

  20. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Does the attempted Genocide of Bosnian Muslims by Orthodox Serbs count as Christian violence?

    How about something like the oppression of homosexuals in Russia? It’s clearly being done at the behest of the Russian Orthodox church. Does that make it Christian violence?

    US Lt. General William Boykins, the commander of US Special Forces 2000-2003, has said that the US War on Terror is a holy Christian war against Muslims. Does that make any of the fighting done under his command qualify as Christian violence?

  21. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Stormy Dragon: While you were splitting hairs, ISIS was splitting necks — 21 necks, belonging to Coptic Christians.

  22. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    And here we see why it’s a sucker’s bet. All non-muslim religious violence is “splitting hairs” because it’s not happening to Jenos and Michael Graham.

  23. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Stormy Dragon: It was more of an update, really. And it’s Graham’s bet. However, I did note several examples I’d consider guidelines, but you seemed more into getting into the minutiae and fine print.

    Graham’s point was that, currently, the religion that is the source of the most inspiration for slaughter is Islam, that to lump it on “extremism” is sloppy thinking, to say it’s religion” is to smear other faiths. And that point was reinforced by the latest slaughter I cited.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    Americans don’t really “do” history other than the Civil War and WW2, but if you took a longer view, you might ask yourself why “Islam” is fighting with suicide vests and IEDs, while “Christendom” is armed with F-16s, Predators, laser-guided munitions, and, as an all-purpose back-up, nuclear weapons.

    You really want to go with a “them bad, us good,” theory when it turns out we are far, far, far more advanced in the art of killing? Where do you suppose all that obsession with perfecting the most advanced weapons systems came from? You think it’s evidence of our pacific culture? Because historically peaceful folks tend not to be the ones with all the best weapons. You know?

  25. michael reynolds says:

    And here’s a useful corrective to consider. In the last century, 1915 to 2015, the “Christian” world, Germany, France, Russia, the UK, the US, Austria, etc., have launched wars and terrors that have killed 100 million people, at least half of them civilians.

    “Islam” isn’t even in the major leagues compared to Christendom. Islam has yet to drop a nuclear weapon on a city full of civilians.

    If Islam is to blame for 9-11, then Christianity is to blame for Hiroshima.

  26. gVOR08 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: What is it you want, Jenos? Do you want the US to launch a war against all Islam? Do you want us to bomb ISIS, along with anyone else who happens to be in the area into a glassy plain? Would it be sufficient if Obama put large numbers of troops on the ground in the ME for a fight the U.S. populace won’t back? Do you want us to reopen Manzanar for U.S. Muslims? Or would it be enough if the rest of us just joined your two minute online hates on Islam? Obviously you don’t feel it’s enough that we and our allies have killed, and continue to kill, thousands of ISIS.

  27. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @michael reynolds: 1) This is Current Events, not History. You want Room 12A.

    2) Those wars you cited? You might want to look up a concept called “nationalism.” It had a hell of a lot more to do with those wars than “Christianity.” Oh, and for most of that time, Russia was officially atheist.

    3) “Christendom” is armed with F-16 and Predators and such? I had no idea that Vatican City was even big enough to support its own air strip. So much for “how many divisions has the Pope?”

    4) A LOT of the physicists who developed the atomic bomb were Jewish, not Christian. Oppenheimer, Teller, and Einstein were all part of the tribe.

    You really should limit your psychotic hatred to Republicans. Extending it to all of Christianity really doesn’t serve you well.

  28. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Ah, that was so easy.

    So, your approach is to 1) Decide to limit the time frame in order to reach a desired conclusion and 2) Introduce nuance and detail to “your side” while denying it to the other side.

    Let’s take them one at at a time. In another thread you said in effect, this is what Islam’s been doing since the 6th century. Right? So your historical frame of reference extends for Islam back better than a thousand years, while your time limits for Christians are what, exactly? How about March 16, 1968? Is that ancient history? How about the period 1991 to 1998 in the former Yugoslavia? How about the Ukraine-Russia borer, today? All rather less ancient than the 6th century. How about Mutual assured Destruction, which doctrine we in effect continue to maintain today? You see anything more savage in Islam than the threat to burn humanity to the ground rather than be beaten?

    The nuance question is even easier. “Our side” is full of nuance, full of detail, full of specificity, full of explanation and excuse and no-true-Scotsman fallacies. “They” however lack any detail, any nuance, any differentiation. They are a mass, we are individuals. This is straight-up bigotry, evidence of a fundamentally dishonest and narrow mind.

    As usual, you’re about 90% mouth and 10% brain. Learn more, talk less.

  29. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @michael Reynolds:

    10% brain

    I do admire your generosity of spirit.

  30. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @michael reynolds: To repeat myself, I was talking current events, not history. The observation that modern radical Islam is actually a pretty good representation of Islam from its earliest days was more of an aside.

    But let’s look at your examples. Specifically, the first one. I presume you’re referring to the My Lai Massacre, which you want to hang around the necks of Christians. So, it was done in the name of Jesus, with Army chaplains ordering Calley to go slaughter the heathens? That’s so effing dishonest of you, I don’t see any more point in discussing the matter — you are operating from a world so far removed from reality that we’re not even speaking the same language.

    But for a good take on how ISIS is doing a damned good job of capturing the original spirit of Islam (and to see John Kerry called “an uncircumsized geezer,” check out this article.

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I read the article yesterday. I quite liked it – since it validated everything I’ve said about the ISIS situation. But somehow I doubt you read it, or having read it, understood it. The analogy to Koresh is apt. All religions spawn extremist interpretations. Those extremists are not identical to the larger faith. A point that is consistently lost on you.

    Now, why is My Lai not a problem for Christians – given that the troops were undoubtedly majority Christian – while everything ISIS does is somehow directly connected via the weak circuits in your brain – to all of Islam?

  32. Tyrell says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I certainly agree with everything Graham said. Even moderate Muslims agree that the radical, violent Muslims are the problem and do not represent their religion any more than that Westboro group represent the Christian church. It is disgusting to see some of our leaders doing some sort of song and dance rather than risk possibly offending some one.