COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Two alleged Islamic militants accused of preparing a bomb attack went on trial in Denmark on Monday, with prosecutors showing secret video footage of them testing a highly explosive material in an apartment building in Copenhagen.
And you thought your neighbors were bad.
The prosecution said the two men conducted the small test blast with the same explosive that was used by suicide bombers who killed 52 commuters in London in 2005.
Both defendants have pleaded not guilty but admitted making triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, saying it was to be used for fireworks.
Denmark’s intelligence service said earlier that the suspects had links to leading al-Qaida figures, but the charges read Monday in a Copenhagen court did not mention such links.
The 22-year-old men were arrested during an anti-terror sweep in September in the Danish capital. They cannot be named under a court order.
If convicted, the defendants of Afghan and Pakistani background could face life in prison, although such sentences are generally reduced to 16 years under Danish law. The Pakistani also is a Danish citizen, while the Afghan has a staying permit in Denmark.
In May 2007, Denmark’s PET intelligence service was tipped off by an unidentified foreign service that the man of Pakistani origin was on his way back to Denmark after having spent time in a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.
PET then tapped his phone and computer, and secretly installed surveillance video cameras in his home in Copenhagen, prosecutor Lone Damsgaard told the City Court in Glostrup, a city suburb.
It was unclear what the target of the alleged planned terrorist attack was, but Damsgaard said the defendant of Pakistani origin asked contacts in Pakistan through an Internet chatroom for addresses of hotels and the Danish Embassy in Islamabad.
On June 2, 2008, a car bomb exploded outside the Danish Embassy in Islamabad, killing six people and wounding about 35. But the defendants are not accused of involvement in that attack.
Footage from the surveillance cameras played in court showed the Pakistani defendant sitting on the floor in his apartment in Copenhagen, saying he was getting ready for a martyrdom trip.
In other footage, the two men are seen leaving the room after which an explosion is heard, followed by the men returning from the stairwell of an apartment building in a densely populated area of Copenhagen. Damsgaard said they were testing the TAPT there on Sept. 1 “” three days before they were arrested. Bomb manuals were found in both men’s apartments, one concealed in a pillow cover, the other in a book, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors have called both defendants Islamic militants without providing the name of what group or groups they belonged to.
A verdict is expected on Oct. 23.
A third man was arrested and charged in the case for allegedly urging the kidnapping of Danes abroad as a way to force Danish authorities to release the two jailed defendants now on trial. The third man’s trial is scheduled for later this year.
Danish police say they have thwarted a series of terrorist attacks in recent years.
In November 2007, a Palestinian immigrant, an Iraqi Kurd and a Danish convert to Islam were found guilty of plotting a bomb attack on an unidentified target and sentenced up to 11 years in prison. In February, 2007, a Danish court convicted a 17-year-old man of involvement in a terror plot uncovered in Bosnia in October 2005.