Denmark Focuses on 'Anti-Government Extremists' in New Threat Assessment Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

© AP Photo / Jens Dresling/Ritzau / Police officers in Denmark. (File)
Police officers in Denmark. (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.03.2022
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The novel concept of “anti-government extremism” has been described as a readiness to condone and carry out aggression against elected officials. Furthermore, the authorities warned of “ideological cross-pollination” between other established strains of extremism.
“Anti-government extremism” has for the first time in history been identified as a separate threat in a report by the Danish Police Intelligence Service PET.
The Center for Terror Analysis (CTA) under PET defines “anti-government extremism” as a “collective term for a series of narratives about the need to use violence against politicians, government officials and professionals”.
The phenomenon is new and stems primarily from the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of the pandemic, Denmark has seen numerous attacks against the authorities, including arson against test and vaccine facilities, which are presumed to have been carried out by anti-government extremists. Among other things, it happened in Ballerup in March 2021, where four bottles of flammable liquid were thrown at a test facility.
According to the CTA, the new phenomenon “does not primarily stem from established extremist ideologies such as militant Islamism, right-wing extremism or left-wing extremism”. The head of the CTA, Michael Hamann, emphasised that there is a significant difference.

“In Denmark, fortunately you get to think what you want. But when it comes to extremism, we see that there are people who accept and express the need to use violence against, for example, elected representatives. Therefore, we have chosen to label it as a separate phenomenon that requires our attention and that we want to describe, analyse and assess in order to counteract the threat in the long run,” Hamann told Danish Radio.
While the new phenomenon has been largely spurred by the pandemic, that has appeared to subside (at least in Denmark, which recently abandoned the last restriction), it is unlikely to disappear, the authorities have warned.

“There have been examples of criticism being expressed through threats and the intimidation of Danish professionals, elected representatives or government officials, and we have also seen examples of violent acts being planned or carried out abroad”, Michael Hamann, told TV2.

The CTA assessed the current danger as “limited”, but stressed that it was affected by current societal themes or developments, which at times can exacerbate the terrorist threat. At the same time, a significant number of terrorist attacks have been averted in Denmark in recent years, Michael Hamann admitted. Fireworks, small home-made bombs and arson devices such as Molotov cocktails have been identified as the most likely weapons of choice.

Maia Kahlke Lorentzen, a researcher and consultant at the Cybernauts network dedicated to cybersecurity and research, warned of dangerous ideological mixtures.
“There can be some cross-pollination purely ideologically, so it becomes more hateful. Maybe there is some preparedness to use violence that can be contagious. Or there is a concrete access to weapons or combat training”, she mused.
Over the course of 2021, with numerous lockdowns and restrictions imposed by the authorities, Denmark saw massive demonstrations that featured, among others, burning of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in effigy. Overall, dozens of people were arrested.
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