"With Islam comes fear, and with fear comes power."

More than 140 Muslim gang members were arrested in Denmark after they tried to raid a courthouse where two fellow Muslims are being tried for attempted murder.

The Muslims -- all members of criminal street gangs that have taken over large parts of Danish towns and cities -- were wearing masks and bullet-proof vests and throwing rocks and bottles as they tried to force their way into the district courthouse in Glostrup, a heavily Islamized suburb of Copenhagen, on March 6.

Police used batons and pepper spray to fend off the gang members, who were armed with an arsenal of 20 different types of weapons, including crowbars, darts, hammers, knives, screwdrivers and wooden clubs.

The trial in Glostrup involves two Pakistani immigrants accused of shooting and attempting to murder two fellow Muslims who belong to a rival gang. Police say the accused used a nine millimeter handgun to carry out the crime in Ballerup, a Muslim suburb northwest of Copenhagen. The trial began on February 28 and is scheduled to run through March 28.

The shooting was related to an escalating turf war between rival Muslim gangs from the Værebroparken housing estate in Bagsværd, a suburb of Copenhagen, and Nivå and Kokkedal in northern Zealand. Immigrant gangs are believed to be responsible for at least 50 shootings in and around Copenhagen during the past several months.

The recent violence is reminiscent of an earlier conflict between immigrant gangs and Danish gangs like the Hells Angels or the AK81 that left many people dead or wounded in Copenhagen and other Danish cities.

The immigrant gangs are involved in countless criminal activities, including drug trafficking, illegal weapons smuggling, extortion, human trafficking, robbery, prostitution, automobile theft, racketeering and murder.

Many of the gang members are ethnic Arabs, Bosnians, Turks and Somalians. They also include Iraqis, Moroccans, Palestinians and Pakistanis.

Over the past several years, the immigrant gangs have proliferated geographically across all of Denmark. The gangs have spread south from Copenhagen to the rest of Zealand, from inner Nørrebro, to the suburbs Ishøj, Greve, Greve, and on to Køge. The gangs are also active in Albertslund, Herlev, Hillerød, Høje Gladsaxe, Hundige, Roskilde and Skovlunde, among many Danish localities.

One of the largest criminal gangs in Denmark is a Muslim gang called Black Cobra. The organization was founded by Palestinian immigrants in Roskilde near Copenhagen in 2000 and now operates in all Danish cities.

Black Cobra has also established itself in Sweden, where it operates with impunity in the Islamized Tensta and Rinkeby suburbs of Stockholm and in the Muslim ghetto of Rosengård in Malmö.

The Black Cobra gang -- whose members wear black and white shirts with an emblem of a cobra in attack position -- also controls a youth gang called the Black Scorpions.

Danish authorities estimate that each year more than 700 immigrants between the ages of 18 and 25 are choosing crime as a permanent career by joining gangs such as Black Cobra, the Black Scorpions, the Bandidos, the Bloodz, the International Club, or any other of the more than 100 gangs that are now operating in Denmark.

On February 28, the Danish national police (Rigspolitiet) together with the Justice Ministry presented parliament with a plan to push back against the gangs. Police say they hope they can arrest 300 high-ranking gang members -- 200 from Zealand and 100 from Jutland -- by the end of 2012. The government has also committed 50 million Danish kroner ($9 million) in 2012 to a special project aimed at intercepting and preventing gang recruitment in marginalized areas.

But analysts are skeptical the Danish government can do very much to crack down on the gangs. Although Danish police say they arrested more than 350 gang members in 2011, many of those detentions involved lower-ranking "errand boys" who were released after being questioned.

Some critics say a big problem is a lack of will and that Danish efforts to crack down on the immigrant gangs have been half-hearted at best. In Denmark -- as in other European countries where the state-enforced dogma of multiculturalism trumps traditional notions of equal justice for all -- immigrants involved in crime are portrayed as victims of circumstance and relatively few are ever sent to prison.

In those cases where immigrants are detained, many are released after just a few hours. Critics say this encourages them to avenge their arrests. A case in point: Of the more than 140 Muslims who were arrested for trying to storm the courthouse in Glostrup on March 6, all but five were immediately released. That same night many of those who were released went on a rampage in Værebroparken, setting fire to trash bins and launching missiles at hapless police.

But a larger part of the problem involves fear.

Immigrant gangs often operate or seek refuge in so-called no-go zones that are effectively off limits to Danish authorities. These "no-go zones" involve suburbs of Copenhagen and other Danish cities that function as autonomous enclaves ruled by Muslim immigrants, areas where Danish police fear to tread.

Muslim gangs in Denmark have been highly adept at leveraging the fear that Danish authorities have of Islam and of Muslim immigrants. They replicated the model that Muslim gangs in Britain have successfully used to wrest control over the criminal underworld in that country.

In an interview with a British newspaper, an Asian Muslim gang member named Amir put it this way: "The reality is that Asian gangs don't give much of toss about religion, but with Islam comes fear, and with fear comes power. Religion is important to us only as a way of defining who we can trust and who we can work with. Young Muslim gangs aren't worried about what Allah makes of their criminal ways -- they don't believe in it to that extent."

Amir added: "Through religion we speak the same language, live in the same areas, go to the same schools and can even use mosques as a safe place away from the police or other gangs. If you f*** with a Muslim gang you'd better be able to run fast or hide well, because they will come back at you in numbers."

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.

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