Danish Cartoonist Slams Police For Lax Security At Copenhagen Event

AFP Photo / TT News Agency / Bjorn Lindgren +++ Sweden Out
AFP Photo / TT News Agency / Bjorn Lindgren +++ Sweden Out

The Swedish cartoonist who is believed to have been the target of the deadly Copenhagen shoots has criticised the police, saying they “had not caught onto” the Modus Operandi of terrorists following last month’s Paris attacks.

Lars Vilks, who has faced several death threats since his cartoon portraying the Prophet Mohammed as a dog was published in a newspaper in 2007, told the AFP newswire that Danish police had underestimated the terrorist threat which now exists, The Local reports.

Mr Vilks, who has gone into hiding after the attacks last Saturday which killed a 55 year old film maker, was talking at a cultural centre hosting a forum on Islam and free speech.

The comments come as mourners gather to bury the 37 year old Jewish man who was also killed in the deadly shooting spree.

Crowds of mourners turned out to the funeral of a Dan Uzan, a volunteer security guard, was killed outside Copenhagen’s main synagogue and has today been buried at a Jewish cemetery in the Danish capital.

Police were out in force along with sniffer dogs and snipers on nearby rooftops to protect those attending Uzan’s funeral from any further attacks

The cartoonist, who constantly has police protection, had security with him at the event and managed to escape into the kitchen after a gunman fired off dozens of rounds.

A police spokeswoman Ewa-Gun Westford said that Mr Vilks’ home in southern Sweden “is not a safe place. And he needs to be in a safe place.”

“The attack seemed to be directed at him. Regardless, the security assessment is that he cannot be in his home,” Westford said.

Vilks said the attacker “had good weapons, he had better weapons than the police.”

“There was an escalation since the Charlie Hebdo attacks [in Paris] and the Danes had not caught onto that,” he said.

“They did not step up security on Saturday. It was the same as we had previously… they must consider whether they need to be better armed.”

The gunman who attacked the free speech debate also targeted a synagogue in an Islamic-fuelled rampage which left two dead and five wounded.

It came just weeks after the atrocities in Paris where Islamist gunmen stormed the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices and a kosher supermarket, leaving 17 people dead.

He conceded that it was “easy with hindsight” to say that the police could have done more.

The comments come as it emerged the supposed gunman was already known to the Danish Security and Intelligence Services (PET) as someone who was vulnerable to radicalisation in jail.

The Danish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalforsorgen) reported the while he was serving time for a stabbing, PET said in a statement.

“PET had, against the background of the alert from the Prison and Probation Service no reason to believe that the now deceased 22-year-old offender was planning attacks,” they added in a statement.

The suspected gunman, thought to be Omar El-Hussein, was killed in a shootout with police on Sunday. He was Danish born with Palestinian origins.

Politicians in Denmark have called for an investigation to whether the police and intelligence services could have done more to prevent the attacks.

Opposition spokesman Karsten Laurizen said, “I assume the government will review this information. Have mistakes been made on the part of the police or PET? That has to be made clear.”

But Vilks said that despite the threats he intended to keep speaking out about freedom of expression.

“I have no plans to give up. But I don’t know what security decisions will be made — it could be deemed inappropriate to speak publicly. It would be tragic if that was the case, he said. “But there can’t be a military operation every time I’m going to lecture.”