Denmark has discovered that dozens of its citizens fighting for ISIS have continued to receive cash benefits. According to local media the government somehow expects terrorists to pay the improperly distributed funds back.
At least 36 people who are known by authorities to have left Denmark to allegedly to join the ranks of ISIS continued to receive welfare payments, according to the Ekstra Bladet newspaper.
Thirty-four alleged terrorists received cash benefits from municipal authorities, and two others from private but heavily state-subsidized funds. The newspaper obtained the figures from the Danish Employment Ministry through a freedom of information request.
The municipalities and the private funds demanded a repayment of the improperly distributed benefits from the 29 of the alleged terrorists. The seven others have presumably been killed in action. It remains unclear, exactly how the organizations expect to get the money from terrorists back, who in total have received a hefty sum of 672,000 kroner (around $77,300).
Members of the Employment Committee of the Danish Parliament from two opposing sides of the Danish political spectrum have showed a notable unanimity on this matter.
“It is totally reprehensible. It is clear that you must be available to the Danish labor market when receiving cash, so you obviously do not travel abroad, and one should certainly not travel to a place where you take part in something like that,” the Ekstra Bladet quoted Karsten Honge of the Socialist People’s Party as saying.
Denmark’s Employment Minister Troels Lund Poulsen promised to “take action.”
“It is totally unacceptable and a disgrace. It must be stopped,” he told Ekstra Bladet. “If you travel to Syria to participate in war, to become an ISIS fighter, then you obviously do not have any right for benefits from the government.”
It’s not the first time that Danish IS-fighters receiving welfare benefits have been reported. In 2014, Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) disclosed information on 28 terrorists, receiving benefits while fighting in Syria. It remained unclear, whether the state managed to get the payments back from the terrorists that time and whether the new number of 36 terrorists included the 2014 figures.
At least 135 people have left Denmark to join ISIS and participate in middle-eastern wars, according to PETs estimates. Denmark is believed to be the second European country after Belgium supplying the most fighters to ISIS. The overall number of Danish terrorists almost equals the Danish army’s 150-soldier unit, deployed in Iraq as a part of the US-backed coalition fighting ISIS.
A week ago news surfaced online showing the Danish government jailed Joanna Palani for for breaking national laws preventing citizens from fighting for foreign countries.
Joanna Palani, 23, who has Iranian and Kurdish origins, is now facing six months in prison and had her passport confiscated upon her return home last year.
In 2014, she made the decision to join Kurdish forces, dropped out of college and returned to her motherland to “fight for human rights for all people,” described in her own words. In the story she told, her father and grandfather were soldiers as well, and she has been operating firearms since the age of nine.