“The government is doing an effort but I don’t think it is enough. For the moment we should be very straight for this matter, it is about safety on Denmark,” Poulsen said.
“If people come back from the Middle East, we should tell them to leave. They can’t go back, if they want to live in the Middle East, if you want to be radical extremists, if you want to fight for terrorist organizations, they should go back. That should be the Danish line in these questions,” the politician stressed, adding that those who leave for the Middle East “are still getting payment from the government of Denmark, taxpayers’ money.”
Denmark is Europe’s second largest exporter of foreign fighters to the Middle East, after Belgium. According to the Danish Security and Intelligence Service, more than 100 Danish citizens have left Denmark for Syria and at least 15 have been killed since 2011. The service notes that the majority of them are fighting with militant Islamist groups in Syria, but many are also associated with the Islamic State in Iraq.
Danish Security and Intelligence Service believe that those who left for Syria have gained significant skills in warfare during their participation in hostilities and this capacity could be used to carry out terrorist attacks in Denmark.
Peter Kofod Poulsen underlined that those who leave to fight with terrorist groups in the Middle East, should stay there, because they have already opted to reject the opportunities Denmark provides them with such as education and employment.
“I don’t consider them as being Danish people, I don’t see it as Danish to go and fight in the Middle East for terrorist organizations. That’s not Danish at all,” Poulsen added.
He also stressed that using modern technology, it should be relatively easy to track them down and ascertain whether or not they have been in the Middle East.
“We have to document. I think it is possible to see where people go, if they have a telephone, it’s quite possible to check where they have been,” he said.
As many as 30 people from Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city with a population of slightly over 300,000 have gone to fight in Syria. The city has launched a program to de-radicalize the Danish Muslims, by helping them get their life in order. The program which is a collaboration of welfare services and local police, offers an escape route from the Middle East, provides support to their families and assists them with finding work or resuming education.