- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 19, 2010

A bombing suspect who is accused of blowing up a hotel toilet in Copenhagen, along with himself, is a one-legged amateur boxer who was born in insurgency-racked Chechnya and has shown what one scholar calls “highly professional” tradecraft in concealing his identity and purpose from Danish authorities.

The would-be bomber’s target, Danish police said, was likely the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world in 2006 by publishing 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad and has been the object of at least one foiled terrorist attack since.

“We are reasonably sure that was the target,” Chief Superintendent Svend Foldager of the Copenhagen police, the lead investigator in the case, said at a briefing Friday.

“We’re dealing with a letter bomb,” said Mr. Foldager, adding that the parcel contained small steel pellets designed to maximize casualties and would have exploded with a force of a small hand grenade. “It was capable of injuring a lot of people, depending on where it exploded.”

Mr. Foldager also said the device used triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, a volatile acetone-based explosive used by al Qaeda in the July 2005 London subway bombings and other attacks.

The man, who was injured when the device apparently exploded prematurely as he was preparing it in a hotel bathroom on Sept. 10, continues to refuse to cooperate with investigators, Mr. Foldager said.

Although he faces criminal charges that carry a potential penalty of life in prison, he has not told police his name and was not carrying credit cards or a mobile phone when arrested shortly after the blast. The Belgian identity card he was carrying turned out to be a fake, police have said.

Even his prosthetic leg had its serial number removed when it was fitted two years ago - apparently to prevent its identification.

Police said the suspect asked for Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious texts to be provided to him in custody.

A Danish tabloid last week identified the man - whose nose looks as if it has been broken perhaps more than once - by taking his picture around boxing clubs in Belgium. A trainer at a club in Liege named him as 24-year-old Lors Dukayev, and Danish police confirmed that identification.

“This guy seems unlike most of the domestic jihadis we have seen up to now,” Danish terrorism researcher Michael Taarnby told The Washington Times. “His tradecraft is highly professional.”

Mr. Taarnby said the suspect has made “none of the stupid mistakes” that have marked other failed terrorism plots in Europe and the United States.

“Keeping his mouth shut like that is straight out of the al Qaeda counterinterrogation manual,” Mr. Taarnby said, adding that he finds it “hard to believe that he didn’t have a mobile phone,” although the suspect could have disposed of it before his arrest.

Mr. Taarnby, who consults on terrorism issues for Danish government agencies, added that TATP is difficult and dangerous to make. “I don’t think he could have learned all this from the Internet.”

He noted that Danish police have had little success in reconstructing his entry to the country or his movements before the explosion. “There is a lot of time unaccounted for,” he said, adding that no documents are necessary to travel within the visa-free Schengen zone of the European Union. “No one knows exactly how or when he got into the country.”

Mr. Taarnby noted that by not revealing his identity, the suspect had “bought five days” after his arrest for any accomplices or associates to make good their escape.

Danish media reports say that Mr. Dukayev lost his leg to a land mine in Chechnya when he was 10 years old. He came to Belgium as a child with his mother, who was a doctor, and was granted asylum there.

Interviews with other boxers at the club in Liege suggest that he became radicalized within the past two years, according to the Politiken newspaper.

Scott Stewart, of the private-sector intelligence company Stratfor, said that individuals with travel or residence papers for European countries are highly valued by al Qaeda and its affiliates.

“Al Qaeda groups are always looking for guys like him who can travel freely in the West,” he said.

Mr. Stewart added that although Islamic insurgents in Chechnya had links with al Qaeda and other global jihadist groups going back to the Afghanistan war in the 1980s, he thinks it’s more likely the plot had been hatched on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see those kinds of links emerge” in the investigation, he told The Times. “By and large, Chechen militant groups are focused on their own struggle.”

Mr. Taarnby added that it is “highly significant” that his mother and sister appeared to have dropped out of sight several months ago. “Where did they go? Who is looking after them?” he said.

The Danish Security and Intelligence Service said last week that the country remains a “high priority” target for Islamic terrorist groups because of the publication of the cartoons.

• Shaun Waterman can be reached at 123@example.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide