Danish jails feared to be hotbed of radicalism

Reports that Omar El-Hussein was radicalized in prison have Danish officials worried about a larger pattern that turns criminals into extremists.

Something happened in prison to Omar El-Hussein, the 22-year-old identified by police as the gunman who killed two people in a weekend shooting spree in Copenhagen.

His transformation from small-time criminal to cold-blooded killer is fuelling a debate about whether a radicalized environment in Danish prisons is pushing smalltime gangsters into the arms of Islamic extremism.

“He was crazy. When he came out of prison he was totally nuts,” said a taxi driver from the Mjølnerparken housing estate where El-Hussein lived and played as a child.

Copenhagen’s longstanding problem with criminal gangs means the authorities are now concerned that El-Hussein’s journey from joining a gang in the immigrant community where he grew up, via prison into extremism could mirror a wider trend…