EXCLUSIVE – Murder, rape and knife attacks: Inside Denmark’s ‘three-star prison for radicalised asylum seekers’ where an ISIS fanatic stabbed a POLICEMAN
- Five hundred migrants from 49 difference countries live in Sandholm centre in North Zealand, north of Copenhagen
- In past year, a veteran police officer was stabbed by a Palestinian ISIS fanatic and a 24-year-old woman was raped
- Fights break out, an ‘inmate’ went on the rampage with a fire extinguisher, and swastikas painted on walls outside
- ‘I do not feel safe at Sandholm, I can be attacked again any time,’ a Syrian refugee living there told MailOnline
- Many stay at the centre for years, while their applications are processed in Denmark, a country with low immigration compared to the rest of western Europe
- Last year 21,225 migrants settled and so far this year, just 1,620, with 85 per cent successfully claiming asylum
Welcome to Denmark’s largest asylum centre: a crime-riddled ‘jail’ where innocent migrant families are trapped living alongside violent young men for years – forced to survive on £94 a month state handouts while waiting to see if they will be the next person stabbed, raped or assaulted.
Dubbed ‘a prison for radicalised asylum seekers’, this is the Sandholm Centre, where a Palestinian ISIS fan allegedly stabbed a policeman, an Aghan man was murdered – and a young woman was raped.
In the last few months a man at the centre went berserk with a fire extinguisher and two men were detained for violence as tensions between the 500 ‘inmates’ from 49 different countries reach boiling point.
And there is no escape for those desperate to protect their families, and themselves, from the brutality of living here, at least until they have been granted asylum, a process which can take years in Denmark.
Until then, all they can do is wait in their cramped rooms waiting for the next violent crime – and hope they aren’t the victim.
‘There was another fight here just two days ago. A man was slashed in the face with a knife,’ Syrian Mahmoud Shalfo, 25, told MailOnline.
‘I was threatened a few weeks ago too. A gang member asked me for a lighter and when I told him I don’t smoke, he pulled out a knife and told me to get him one.
I was threatened a few weeks ago. A gang member asked me for a lighter and when I told him I don’t smoke, he pulled out a knife and told me to get him one.
– Syrian Mahmoud Shalfo, 25
‘I backed off and ran away. I know how to defend myself but I did not come here to fight. If I get in trouble with the police, I will be in a very bad situation. I do not feel safe here at Sandholm, and I feel that I can be attacked again any time.’
Shalfo’s fears of living there stem from the catalogue of crimes that have taken place over the past 18 months.
In 2010 a 30-year-old Afghan man was killed at Sandholm. Police arrested 17 people initially and charged a man, 26, from Kosovo with murder and five more with complicity and attempted murder.
More recently, in September a policeman was stabbed in a frenzied attack in the early hours of the morning.
A Palestinian, 25, suspected of having stabbed him was said to have been radicalised with ‘sympathies’ towards ISIS.
The knifeman shouted ‘Allahu akhbar’, which means ‘God is great’ in Arabic, before knifing the veteran police officer, who was in a critical condition in hospital, it is claimed.
Chief Superintendent Magnus Andresen added: ‘The investigation shows some signs of radicalisation of this person. These are some of the findings from our search and investigation of the crime scene. We are now investigating in how large degree he has been radicalised.’
The stabbing sparked outrage in Denmark, particularly after it emerged that the ‘mentally unstable’ suspect was known to Danish intelligence.
It prompted the right-wing Danish People’s Party calling for ‘all radicalised asylum seekers’ to be jailed.
And in the latest incident at the centre, last month a 24-year-old woman was raped.
Asylum: Denmark’s Sandholm Centre, just 30km from the capital Copenhagen, is a ‘prison’ where asylum seekers can be stranded for years.
Akram Kawas, a resident, told MailOnline how, a few weeks ago, he was hit in the face after by a radicalised Muslim from Syria, who then threatened him with a knife.
‘Living here is like a three-star hotel, but it is not really secure,’ he said. ‘There are many crazy people, people you have to stay away from.’
Living here is like a three-star hotel, but it is not really secure… There are many crazy people, people you have to stay away from.
– Akram Kawas, resident of Sandholm
Akram never meant to end up here, stuck living on the pitiful government handouts and unable to work.
Instead, he had hoped to reach France or Norway to start his new life there, but his mother asked him to visit his brother first in Denmark, and it was there he was picked up by the police.
He said: ‘The police took me at the train station in Padborg (southern Denmark border town) and they told me they needed to register me.
‘I did not want to, but they let me wait for a very long time. Finally, I did it, even though it meant that cannot seek asylum in Norway or France,’ he says.
Afghan farmer Rahmat Ali, 29, has been stranded in Sandholm, just 30km from Copenhagen, for the last five years.
‘I get 895 DKR (£94) per month and I receive a bag of goods such as shampoo, slippers and toilet paper,’ he told MailOnline.
Asylum seekers at Sandholm live in three types of housing – family rooms with private shower and toilet; double rooms with private bathroom and four-person rooms with shared bathroom facilities.
A VIOLENT TIMELINE OF SANDHOLM ASYLUM CENTRE
March 25: Asylum seeker who lives at Sandholm tries to steal a bag from an old woman
March 13: Swastikas painted on two buildings
April 23: 14 refugees mysteriously disappear
March 27: An asylum seeker is sent to prison for 40 days for not reporting to Sandholm several times
April 10: A 21-year-old Algerian man is detained for beating up a woman
April 18: The same 21-year-old is jailed for violence against the woman
April 19: Four people are detained for attacking an African man in the area just outside the centre
April 20: A 16-year-old from the centre is attacked by five men on his way back home to Sandholm
April 22: A resident threatens two police officers with a knife
April 23: Three men are detained after attempting to climb the fence into the asylum centre
April 24: A 16-year-old threatens staff while a 41-year-old threatens two police with a knife
May 7: A 31-year-old migrant spits in the face of a staff member and creates a scene in the cafeteria
June 3: A 24-year-old male is charged for violence after pushing a Red Cross officer
July 28: A Russian man threatens staff and others, and acts violently against the police
September 6: Iranian man, 28, goes ‘berserk’ and destroys a fitness facility
September 29: A policeman is attacked and stabbed with knife
September 30: Danish People’s Party demands ‘prison for all radicalised asylum seekers’ in reaction to the stabbing of the policeman
February 1: Man goes ‘berserk’ with fire extinguisher
February 13: Two men aged 19 from Morocco are imprisoned for a fortnight of violence at the camp
February 19: Two young men get into a fight and a man smashed some windows
February 23: Staff at shop claimed that ‘minors plundered and threatens them’
February 29: Man breaks window and threatens staff
March 3: Woman, 24, raped
Residents do their own cleaning and laundry and eat in the large communal canteen, where their endless torture continues.
‘You see all sorts of problems in the dining hall,’ Khalil Alkurdi, from Syria, 45, told MailOnline.
‘Some of the guys give you evil eyes as you walk past, others will threaten you and women have to endure comments that can be described as sexual harassment. The girls sometimes ask us to walk around with them for protection. They are afraid of walking alone, especially in the canteen.
‘Sometimes people throw chairs or create such a scene that the whole place needs to be shut down. Where are we supposed to eat? The police should be tougher on the troublemakers.’
Rahmat Ali, from Afghanistan, shows us his phone with photos of his aunt who was beheaded by the Taliban three months ago.
Rahmat lives with two other men in a claustrophobic room measuring about 12 metres squared. They have bunk beds, share a bathroom and a little kitchen at the entrance.
But while the men who spoke to MailOnline appear harmless, their presence in Denmark is not welcomed by Danish politicians, who blame migrant men for the disproportionate rise in crime.
In January, Metter Frederiksen, chairman of Denmark’s main centre-left opposition Social Democrats, said ‘too many refugees and immigrants threatens the Danish welfare’.
In the same month the Danish parliament has approved a series of controversial proposals aiming to make the country a less attractive destination refugees and migrants.
Measures include confiscating migrants’ valuables in order to finance their upkeep while they seek asylum, and making it harder to bring family members to Denmark once they have a right to remain.
Such hostile measures combined with limited financial welfare support means immigration numbers for Denmark, compared with the rest of western Europe, are extraordinarily low.
Most asylum seekers use Denmark as a transit to get through to more welcoming countries such as Sweden where, last year, at its height 10,000 refugees arrived from Denmark a day.
In 2015 only 21,225 migrants settled in Denmark with a population of 5.6million, 85 per cent of which were granted asylum. So far this year there have been just 1,620.
Naser Ahosseini, 29, has been in Denmark for six and a half years – three of which have been spent at Sandholm. Also from Afghanistan, he used to work as an optician and electrician.
‘I am happy to be here, and I feel safe here,’ he told MailOnline.
He said police looked through his luggage when he crossed the border but they did not ask question about his valuables or money – nor did they take anything from him.
He added: ‘They want to scare people from coming to Denmark, so they say they will take money from refugees. That is also why Denmark has tent camps. When people hear about this, they will not go to Denmark. They want to scare them, and it works.’
Despite resentment towards migrants in Denmark, some, like Wissam Taher, who runs a convenience store in Allerød, near Sandholm, is sympathetic.
‘The people from Sandholm come here every day. Some are good and some are bad.’ he said.
‘Many of them do not know how to behave here, they do not understand the prices, they want to bargain the prices or they do not understand simple things like how to make phone calls or understand the timetables of the buses. I often help them.’