More than 30 Danish jihadists have collected unemployment benefits totaling 379,000 Danish krone (€51,000; $55,000) while fighting with the Islamic State in Syria, according to leaked intelligence documents.
The fraud, which was reported by Television 2 Danmark on May 18, comes less than six months after the Danish newspaper BT revealed that Denmark had paid unemployment benefits to 28 other jihadists while they were waging war in Syria.
The disclosures show that Islamists continue to exploit European social welfare systems to finance their activities both at home and abroad — costing European taxpayers potentially millions of euros each year.
According to Television 2 Danmark, the welfare fraud was discovered after the Danish intelligence agency PET began sharing data about known Danish jihadists with the Ministry of Employment to determine if any of these individuals were receiving unemployment benefits.
As a percentage of the overall population, Denmark is the second-largest European source of foreign fighters in Syria after Belgium. At least 115 Danes have become foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq since Syria’s civil war broke out in March 2011, according to a recent report by the Center for Terrorism Analysis, an agency of PET. The report states:
“CTA assesses that approximately half of those who have gone abroad are now back in Denmark, while a quarter of them remain in the conflict zone. CTA assesses that two thirds of these individuals have been in the conflict zone for more than a year. The remaining travelers are located elsewhere abroad. CTA assesses that at least 19 travelers from Denmark have been killed in Syria and Iraq.”
The CTA admits that, “the number may be higher” than 115. The comment is a tacit recognition that it does not know exactly how many Danes have become jihadists abroad.
In April, it emerged that the parents of Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein — a Danish-Jordanian jihadist responsible for the terror attacks in Copenhagen in February 2015 in which two people died — have been welfare recipients in Denmark for more than 20 years. Omar’s parents received a total of 3.8 million krone between 1994 and 2014, amounting to roughly 500,000 euros or $560,000.