Copenhagen Terrorist Had History of Crime

Danish media say Copenhagen gunman Omar El-Hussein had “a history of violent crime” and had only been freed from jail two weeks ago.

Ben Ariel ,

Site of Copenhagen cafe shooting, 14 Feb 2015
Site of Copenhagen cafe shooting, 14 Feb 2015

Omar El-Hussein, the suspected gunman behind double shootings in Copenhagen on Saturday, has been identified by Danish media as a 22-year-old with “a history of violent crime” who had only been freed from jail two weeks ago.

According to AFP, local police said El-Hussein who killed two people at a cultural center and a synagogue before being shot dead by police may have been inspired by last month's Paris attacks.

Meanwhile, a Lebanese website reported that the gunman was of Palestinian Arab origin and that his parents had resided in a camp for “Palestinian refugees” in Lebanon before moving to Denmark.

The Danish Ekstra-Bladet tabloid reported that El-Hussein was released from prison two weeks ago after serving a term for aggravated assault.

Investigators said the man, who was born and raised in Denmark, had a history of assault and weapons offences and that they were trying to ascertain if he had help from any accomplices.

In a killing spree that bore a striking resemblance to the Paris attacks, the gunman first fired off a volley of bullets on Saturday at a cultural center where a panel discussion about Islam and free speech was taking place.

A 55-year-old man identified by the media was documentary film maker Finn Norgaard was killed at the event, which was also attended by Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist behind a controversial caricature of the Prophet Mohammed, and the French ambassador.

In the second attack, the gunman opened fire outside the city's main synagogue while a bar mitzvah was being celebrated, killing a 37-year-old Jewish man named Dan Uzan who was guarding the building.

Five police officers were also wounded in the attacks that stoked fear in the city of about one million people, one of the world's safest capitals.

Danish police said the gunman was already "on the radar" of the intelligence services and that they were looking into the possibility he had travelled to conflict zones such as Syria and Iraq.

"He may have been inspired by the events that took place in Paris a few weeks ago," Jens Madsen, head of the Security and Intelligence Service, told reporters, according to AFP.

A photo of the suspect issued after the cultural center attack showed him wearing a black puffer jacket and a maroon balaclava and carrying a black bag.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese news website Elnashra reported that El-Hussein’s father is a Palestinian Arab and his mother has Jordanian origins. They used to reside in the Ain ​​al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon, the website said.

El-Hussein’s parents reportedly resided at the camp until they moved to Denmark in 1985. El-Hussein himself was born in 1992 and never resided at the camp nor visited it, according to Elnashra.

There are thousands of people registered as Palestinian refugees in Israel’s neighboring countries, including Lebanon and Syria, where they have also been caught in the Syrian civil war.

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have limited work options and are refused citizenship.