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Latest update : 2014-12-16

Video: Denmark ‘rehabilitates’ returning jihadists

© FRANCE 24

Denmark has taken a different approach to young Muslims returning to the country after waging jihad abroad. FRANCE 24's Malcolm Brabant reports.

In Denmark, unlike countries such as France and the UK, these radicalised young people are not treated as criminals but as citizens who need to be rehabilitated back into the community.

Danish police believe this approach is the best way to avoid a terrorist atrocity in the country.

"We don't roll out the red carpet, but we are there to try to help them reintegrate into society,” East Jutland Police Commissioner Jorn Ilum told FRANCE 24. “We believe that is the most secure thing we can do to protect society.”

The rehabilitation project is the brainchild of Professor Preben Bertelsen, a psychologist from Aarhus University.

"Maybe they went off with a romantic idea about making a difference, but they have seen things which have made them disappointed,” he said. “It would be stupid and also dangerous if we did not develop programmes to deradicalise them and reintegrate them into society."

But for some, including returned jihadists, the idea of treating these fighters with kid gloves is likely to backfire.

Former motorcycle gang member Morten Storm, who converted to Islam and became a radical, eventually turned against his new faith and agreed to spy for the British and Danish security services.

"I think the authorities are being naive,” he said. “It's a disgrace that they are underestimating the ideology and the motivation of these people."

"They speak with two tongues,” he added. “On one hand they deny that they are supporting jihad publicly because they know they will be in trouble. Behind closed doors they will support jihad."

Only time will tell if this project is a success.

Like many other countries involved in the war against the Islamic State group, Denmark is on high alert against the possibility of domestic terrorism.

So far the country has escaped an attack.

By Malcolm BRABANT

Our guests

Olivier GUITTA

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