COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The Danish gunman who carried out dual acts of terror near Copenhagen on Saturday had just been released from prison two weeks prior and was intent on waging “a holy war,” states a friend of the now-deceased suspect.
Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, 22, has been identified as the gunman responsible for the attacks, which took the lives of two person and injured four others. He belonged to the Brothas gang and had a violent and criminal history, including the stabbing of a 19-year-old, which had put him behind bars for two years—until two weeks ago, when he was released back into the public.
“He went into prison a gang member, one of us—a petty criminal, I suppose. He came out wanting to wage a holy war,” friend Abo Saddam, 24, told the UK Mirror. “I don’t know who he spoke to in jail, but he must have made friends with other Muslims who made him the way he was when he came out.”
“Prison changed him. He became a much harder Muslim with more hardcore beliefs. Not only that but he wanted to act on those beliefs as well, instead of just talking about them,” he continued. “He was inspired by the Charlie Hebdo attacks– I am sure of it—[and believed that] anyone who makes a mockery of Islam deserves to die.”
As previously reported, on Saturday, El-Hussein carried out two deadly attacks in Denmark that resulted in his own death hours later. The first incident occurred at the Krudttoenden cafe in Osterbro during an event entitled “Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression.” The discussion featured Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, France’s ambassador to Denmark Francois Zimeray and Femen activist Inna Shevchenko, and included talk about Islam and the French publication Charlie Hebdo.
According to reports, Vilks has faced death threats in the past for his controversial caricatures, including a display that depicted the Islamic prophet Mohammad as a dog. While some believed that the attack was directed at Vilks, the cartoonist not injured in the incident as some of those present, including Zimeray, hit the floor at the sound of the gunshots and crawled toward a back door emergency exit.
“Intuitively I would say there were at least 50 gunshots, [but] the police here are saying 200,” Zimeray told reporters. “Bullets went through the doors and everyone threw themselves to the floor.”
Instead, film director Finn Norgaard, 55, was struck in the head in the attack, and was pronounced dead.
Hours after the shooting at the cafe, reports broke that a second shooting took place in the Krystalgade area near a Jewish synagogue, injuring two police officers and killing synagogue guard Dan Uzan, 37.
Several hours following the second attack, police located El-Hussein near a train station in Norrebro. After he drew a gun on police, he was shot dead.
Two others appeared in court on Sunday to face charges of complicity in the attacks for helping El-Hussein obtain weapons, and others are scheduled to appear.
Reports state that some left flowers at the sites where the attacks took place, as well as at the site where El-Hussein exchanged gunfire with police. But as it is not a Muslim custom to leave flowers in memory of the dead, a group of men removed the flowers for the gunman, chanting “Allah is the greatest.”