CHICAGO — A federal jury convicted a Chicago businessman on Thursday of helping plot an attack against a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad but cleared him of the most serious terrorism charge accusing him of cooperating in the deadly 2008 rampage in Mumbai.
The jury reached its split verdict after two days of deliberations, finding Tahawwur Rana guilty of providing material support to terrorism in Denmark and to the Pakistani militant group that had claimed responsibility for the three-day siege in India’s largest city that left more than 160 people dead, including six Americans.
Leading experts on terrorism think Denmark is developing into a nesting box for Islamic extremists. On a Danish conference on terrorism Ghaffar Hussain, leader of the Quilliam Outreach and Training Unit, said that the feeling of being an outsider and not being part of the society is extensive among young Muslims in Denmark. This makes it easy to recruit young Danish Muslims to terrorism. The Israeli terror expert Jonathan Fine and Stephen Tankel from the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at Kings College said that the Muhammad Cartoon Crisis has placed Denmark high on the terrorists list of targets. Also the Swedish terror expert Magnus Ranstorp points out that Denmark is an attractive target among terrorist groups. “An attack on Denmark would mean money and prestige for a terrorist group” Ranstorp says.
The head of the secret service, Jakob Scharf, says there is a need for understanding the motivational factors that leads to radicalizing. He says the feeling of being marginalized is a very important motivational factor towards radicalization and that Denmark therefore has to focus on including young Muslims to a greater extent.
In the radical Islamic milieu in Denmark being charged with or convicted for terrorism means high status. Two researchers from the Danish Institute for International Studies, PhD fellow Ann-Sophie Hemmingsen and senior researcher Manni Crone have investigated the Danish radical Islamic milieu and their conclusion is that persons who have been charged with terrorism typically follow two paths after they have been in the limelight of the police and the intelligence service. Some try to build a new life outside the radical circles and some enjoy the prestige they gained by being charged or convicted of terrorism. The latter stay in the radical circles and it becomes their identity that they are militant or the ‘vanguards’ of radical Islam in Denmark. Hemmingsen and Crone deem this as worrying because the idolization could motivate some to plan terrorist activities. On the other hand the Swedish researcher Magnus Ranstorp, who is a leading researcher on Islamic radicalization, doesn’t think the possibility of gaining prestige by being radical appeals to people outside the radical milieu but he agrees that the idolization of radical Muslims is worrying.