Suspected Copenhagen Gunman Identified

Publish Date
Monday, 16 February 2015, 10:07AM
Source - Getty Images

Source - Getty Images

The gunman thought to be behind the double shootings in Copenhagen has been identified as 22-year-old Omar El-Hussein.

Local media reports he has a history of violent crime, and was only freed from jail two weeks ago.

Danish police believe he may have been inspired to kill two people at a cultural centre and a synagogue, by last month's Paris attacks.

While his motives aren't yet known, Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has described the attacks as a 'cynical act of terror'.

Acts inspired by Paris attacks?

The gunman behind two deadly attacks in Copenhagen may have been inspired by last month's Islamist shootings in Paris, police say.

The man, believed to be the sole perpetrator of what Denmark's prime minister is calling "a cynical act of terror", was previously known to intelligence services.

He "may have been inspired by the events that took place in Paris a few weeks ago", Jens Madsen from the Security and Intelligence Service told reporters on Sunday.

He added the man may "generally have been inspired by militant Islamist propaganda issued by Islamic State and other terror organisations".

He also said police were looking into the possibility the gunman had travelled to Syria or Iraq.

The shooter, who was not further identified, is believed responsible for two separate attacks that have shocked Denmark's usually peaceful capital.

On Saturday, a 55-year-old man was killed at a panel discussion about Islam and free speech attended by Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist behind a controversial caricature of the Prophet Mohammed.

In the second attack, a 37-year-old Jewish man was killed outside Copenhagen's main synagogue early on Sunday.

Five police officers were wounded in the two incidents.

"We believe the same man was behind both shootings and we also believe the perpetrator who was shot by the police action force at Noerrebro station is the person behind the two attacks," senior police official Torben Moelgaard Jensen said.

The first lethal attacks on Danish soil in decades were branded "deplorable" by the United States and triggered condemnation around the world.

"We have experienced the ugly taste of fear and powerlessness which terror hopes to create," Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told a briefing, saying Denmark was experiencing "a day of sorrow".

"We will defend our democracy and we will defend Denmark at any time," she said.

The killing of the suspected attacker capped a massive police manhunt.

The shootout took place shortly before dawn in the neighbourhood of Noerrebro, where police had been keeping an address under observation.

They said video surveillance had led them to believe the man killed by officers was behind both attacks but they were still investigating whether he was acting alone.

The shooting came at the end of a night of fear that had gripped the city of about one million.

The central area of Copenhagen that is home to both the synagogue and Noerreport station, the country's busiest rail hub, was cordoned off by police carrying machine guns.

Swedish security services said they were on alert for any attempt by a suspect to cross the bridge linking Denmark with Sweden.

Michael Gelvan, chairman of the Nordic Jewish Security Council, said the victim at the synagogue was a young Jewish man who had been providing security for a ceremony.

Newstalk ZB

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