Al-Qaeda, the militant, Islamist, and terrorist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001, called upon its supporters and Muslims worldwide to carry out terror attacks in Sweden and Denmark to "take revenge" for the series of Quran-burning protests conducted in the two Nordic countries over the past few months.
Al-Qaeda Central Calls Muslims In Europe, Worldwide To Avenge Quran Burnings | MEMRI https://t.co/YwvFRTYcWb
— Steve Stalinsky PhD (@SteveStalinsky) August 15, 2023
The terrorist group made these calls through the As-Sahab Media Foundation, which serves as Al-Qaeda’s official media center. The media channel released a document titled "A Statement Regarding the Assaults on the Quran and Duty of Fighting the Aggressors" on August 13th.
The three-page statement urged Muslims to conduct violent acts in Sweden, Denmark, and the rest of Europe, including killing the perpetrators of Quran burnings, burning Swedish and Danish embassies worldwide, and targeting the monarchs and diplomats of Sweden and Denmark.
"Denmark and Sweden are two small, despicable countries that amount to no more than two small spots on the world map," the statement read. "People of Islam in Sweden, Denmark, and all of Europe, the duty of revenge is placed upon you."
Aside from carrying out terrorist attacks, Al-Qaeda also urged Muslims to conduct an economic boycott against the countries involved in the Quran burnings, calling for a "battle without bloodshed or difficulty" and "silent killing" of the perpetrators.
#Denmark & #Sweden on alert! In reaction to recent Koran-burnings no less than #AlQaeda has issued call for attacks against those two nations, which terrorist-experts there advise authrties to take very seriously https://t.co/bMfqYblehX
— (@EuroSavant) August 15, 2023
The statement also said that Muslims should take matters into their own hands and not rely on governments' responses from Muslim-majority countries.
"As to relying on cold responses by governments of our Islamic countries... besides them being a proof of their weakness and despicableness, they encourage [our] enemies to continue harming our sanctities," the statement said.
Tore Refslund Hamming, a senior fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at the King’s College London, described the document by Al-Qaeda as "the most direct call from militant Islamists to carry out a terror attack against Denmark since the Mohammed crisis” in a thread on the social media platform X, previously known as Twitter.
The Danish intelligence service has also started monitoring the situation after the latest call for attacks by Al-Qaeda. The British government also changed its advice for travelers going to Sweden, saying it was now "very likely" that terrorist groups are planning an attack. Swedish security forces added that the terror threats against Sweden may have resulted from the Quran-burning protests in the country. However, there had been more counter-demonstrators at protests than actual protesters.
But another expert based at the King’s College London, Swedish terrorism researcher Hans Brun downplayed the threats by Al-Qaeda and said it has become obsolete because its organizational structure has been dismantled.
"This is really not anything new, but just another call to people around the world to exact revenge, and it's directed at lone actors," Brun said, adding that he did not believe Al-Qaeda was planning an attack itself.
"You could look at it as a call to action. If this was something they had organized themselves, they would not have announced it in advance like this. You should also remember that al-Qaida these days is significantly weakened," he added.
Nevertheless, Brun cautioned that the threat by Al-Qaeda might put Swedish and Danish diplomats and embassy staff working in the Middle East in danger, adding that they must take precautionary measures and avoid unnecessary engagements in the countries at risk.
Last July, the Swedish embassy in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, was burned down by protesters while the country’s security forces blocked an attempt to storm the Danish embassy.