The Blekinge Street Gang


The Blekinge Street Gang

The Blekinge Street Gang ( _da. Blekingegadebanden) (December 1972 to May 1989) was a group of ten communist political activists who during the 1970s and 80s committed a number of highly professional robberies in Denmark and sent the money to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. However those activists were also the official leaders of a small political party, whose official ideology formed the moral "excuse" for their crimes. The gangs claims to fame were the professionalism of their heists, and the 1988 discovery of a large cache of weapons and explosives in a flat on "Blekinge Street" giving the gang its "press name". The gang referred to themselves as the inner core of 3 organizations named KAK, KUF and KA .

Note: This article is almost entirely based on the 3 books by Peter Øvig KnudsenPeter Øvig Knudsen, "Blekingegadebanden 1: Den danske celle", Gyldendal 2007, ISBN 978-87-02-04369-3 (in Danish)] Peter Øvig Knudsen, "Blekingegadebanden 2: Den hårde kerne", Gyldendal 2007, ISBN 978-87-02-05906-9 (in Danish). The timeline on pages 516 to 523 was especially useful] and Jørgen MoosJørgen Moos as told to Jeppe Facious and Anders Peter Mathiasen, "Blekingegadebetjenten", Peoples's Press 2007, ISBN 978-87-7055-186-1 (Police memoirs in Danish)]

Key members

* Gotfred Appel (September 1963 to May 4, 1978 (expelled) died 1992) Founder of the official party.
* Ulla Hauton (September 1963 to May 4, 1978 (expelled) died Spring 1989) Gottfred Appel's mistress and 2nd wife.
* Jørgen Poulsen (period unknown, deceased). Part of the KAK leadership until 1976. May or may not have known about the detailed gang activities.
* Jens Holger Jensen (Fall 1967 to September 15 1980 (died)) Firefighter, paramedic, karate expert, most active member.
* Niels Jørgensen (1970 to April 13 1989 (arrested), died September 2 2008 [ekstrabladet.dk: [http://ekstrabladet.dk/112/article1054586.ece Frontmand for Blekingegadebanden er død] , unconfirmed tabloid news report, retrieved September 12 2008 at 03:12 (in Danish)] ) Lab technician, Holger Jensen's best friend. Sentenced to 10 years of prison.
* Jan Weimann (ca. 1968 to April 13 1989 (arrested)) Computer expert at major national suppliers, had trusted access to police computers in the months before his arrest. High school friend of Holger Jensen. Sentenced to 10 years of prison.
* Bo Weimann (???? to April 1988 (resigned from gang)) Research librarian, Jan Weimann's kid brother. Worked with Jan Weimann at the computer supplier too. Sentenced to 7 years of prison.
* Peter Døllner (ca. 1968 to February 1985 (resigned from gang)) Timberman. Sentenced to 1 year of prison, released with "time served" after sentencing.
* Karsten Møller Hansen (???? to 1988 (arrested)). Sentenced to 3 years of prison, released with "time served" after sentencing.
* Carsten Nielsen (December 1987 to May 2 1989 (crashed car, blinded and arrested)) Getaway driver. Sentenced to 8 years of prison.
* Marc Rudin (on loan from PFLP during final robbery) PFLP operative from Switzerland.
* A female M.D. (referred to as "Anna" in the Peter Øvig Knudsen books, nameless in the Moos book) who was not a gang member but provided identities of patients (for temporary identity theftrp|311) and information on medical sedation procedures (officially given under false pretenses, she did not know the real purposerp|265-267,275). Neither charged nor convicted.

Political activities

* June 1963: The communist parties of China and USSR fall out with each other, splitting the entire world of national communist parties into Maoist and Moscow-faithful fractions. The official Communist Party of Denmark (DKP) chooses the Moscow side.
* 1963: Gotfred Appel unofficially founds the "Communist Task Force" (KAK, _da. Kommunistisk ArbejdsKreds) to influence DKP towards Maoist ideology.
* September 1963: DKP expels Gotfred Appel.
* September 1963: Gotfred Appel founds the publishing and printing company "Futura" which takes over the lucrative contract to translate and print the Danish language publications of the Chinese Embassy. This contract was formerly held by the newspaper Land og Folk owned by DKP, with Gotfred Appel as the primary contact. Futura will also become the publisher of the party newspaper Communist Briefing ( _da. Kommunistisk Orientering) and other publications of KAK. Futura's biggest commercial success would be the official Danish translation of The Little Red Book.
* December 1963: Gotfred Appel formally founds KAK as a new independent "party".
* January 14, 1966: KAK founds the first Danish "Vietnam committee".
* 1966-1967: "Communist Briefing" publishes an extensive series of articles on Gotfred Appel's big ideological theory, the "leach state theory": Rich countries make so much money by exploiting 3rd world countries that even their "poorest" citizens are so rich they are effectively "bribed" into being part of the Capitalist bourgeoisie and unlikely to participate in any Communist revolution until this source of wealth dries out due to liberation of the 3rd world. Accordingly, western communists who really want a communist ideal state must first first help liberate the 3rd world countries from western exploitation. This theory will be the basis of all future activities in both the party and the gang. These are later published as a book. [Gotfred Appel: Perspektiver for socialismen i Danmark, Futura 1967 or 1968]
* September 1967: The Maoists also leave the youth wing of DKP (Communist Youth of Denmark, _da. Danmarks Kommunistiske Ungdom (DKU)).
* Fall 1967: Jens Holger Jensen meets Gottfred Appel during a small one-man KAK-demonstration and almost immediately begins to help out and soon joins KAK.
* March 26, 1968: KAK creates its own youth chapter, KUF, with its own newspaper The Young Communist ( _da. Ungkommunisten).
* July 30, 1969: The Chinese embassy cancels the publishing contract with Futura because Gotfred Appel insists that the various "student" uprisings in the west are not the start of a new communist revolution, just internal strife in the bourgeoisie, from which new communists could be recruited. In contrast, the official Peoples Congress had passed a resolution to the contrary.
* Fall 1969: "The Young Communist" dedicates an issue to Palestine in general and PFLP in particular, publicly hailing PFLP as a revolutionary movement with the right ideology. This continues throughout many subsequent issues.
* Late 1970: To avoid a repeat of the pointless violence committed by KUF while Gotfred Appel and Ulla Hauton were out of the country in September 1970, all outward actions and demonstrations are stopped, Appel takes direct control of KUF and officially tells the members to spend the next several years studying marxist-leninist theory. Some KUF members choose not to stay on for this. This may be a cover story (see the same time in the timeline of illegal activities below).
* July 1972: Inspired by the Canadian Liberation Support Movement, KAK founds the charity Clothes to Africa (TTA, _da. Tøj til Afrika) which collects used clothing and other used items which they clean up and send to refugee camps run by like-minded 3rd world liberation movements. The first shipment is to the MPLA from Angola.
* July 25, 1976: Jens Holger Jensen purchases a bungalow for Gotfred Appel and Ulla Hauton. Jens Holger Jensen takes up residence in a "henhouse" on the same plot. The source of money is officially unknown.
* November 1977 to May 1978: Ulla Hauton leads a brutal Feminist witch hunt amongst the male KAK and KUF membership, using methods such as isolating members from all their friends (who were also members), forced "self-criticism" and outright beatings. Almost all legal and illegal activities grind to a halt.
* May 4, 1978: A grand meeting of the KAK membership expels Ulla Hauton, and due to his insistence KAK founder Gotfred Appel. In the aftermath, Gotfred Appel secured the legal rights to the name KAK, and the majority changed the name to "Communist Workgroup" (KA, _da. Kommunist Arbejdsgruppe), the publishing activity was renamed from "Futura" to "Manifest", and the newspaper from "Communist Briefing" to "Manifest". Where KAK had a single unchallenged leader, KA has a collective leadership, roughly consisting of the active gang members.
* October to November 1979: The female doctor "Anna" volunteers in a Red Cross/PFLP refugee camp Nahr-El-Barred north of Tripoli, Lebanon.
* November 17, 1986: Because people have started to sell their used stuff instead of donating it to charities, TTA is no longer profitable. TTA is closed down and the efforts are redirected to a new fund raising project: An all volunteer café named "Café Liberation"rp|387-388.
* April 1987: Café Liberation opens for businessrp|388-389. Unfortunately, the café never manages to make a profit despite everybody working for freerp|394.

Criminal activities

All crimes after 1972 were committed to provide money or weapons to PFLP.In their commission of these crimes, the gang followed some common principles:
* Always use complete disguises so they cannot be recognized. This included masks or theatrical makeup.
* Do not reveal the political affiliation or motives, these are crimes with a practical goal, not public demonstrations of force or terror.
* Avoid serious human casualties. When this rule was broken in the last robbery, the police redoubled their efforts and arrested the gang.
* Be extremely brutal and scary during the crime to pacify the victims and avoid further casualties. The gang did not even consider the debilitating mental scars this would leave on many of their victims.
* Quick in-out. Most crimes were completed in a matter of seconds or minutes.
* Each big heist was usually preceded by months or at least weeks of detailed planning, preparations and surveillance. The surveillance/stakeouts was usually done on foot or from the back of small closed vans.
* Use freshly stolen getaway vehicles equipped with previously stolen unrelated license plates.
* When renting cars, apartments etc. use stolen identities and false driver licenses. Avoid using the stolen identities in ways that would be noticed by the victim (such as spending the victims money).
* During criminal activity, never carry any papers with your real name or address, in order to give the others time to get away before the police figures out who they arrested.
* Maintain absolute secrecy: never say anything on the phone, make sure you are not followed, don't even tell your closest family what you are doing.
* Professional countersurveillance techniques were routine, including spotting of unmarked police cars, evasive driving, calling between payphones etc.

Time line

* May 4, 1967: Jens Holger Jensen throws a bottle ("not" a molotov cocktail) against the Greek Embassy during a demonstration against the Regime of the Colonels, but erroneously hits the apartment below. He apologises and offers to pay for the repairs. At this point Jens Holger Jensen is not yet associated with KAK or the gang.
* December 1967: PFLP is founded in the Middle East with a Maoist agenda for post-liberation Palestine.
* April 27, 1968: KUF plays a leading role in a violent demonstration against the Vietnam war.
* July 22, 1968: PFLP invents modern terrorism by hijacking an El Al airliner in Rome.
* May 5, 1969: Violent KUF demonstrations against the John Wayne movie The Green Berets.
* October 1969: Two KUF members are the first Westerners to train in PFLP training camps in Jordan. They are the active KUF street fighters blacksmith Gert Rasmussen and toolsmith Hans 'Xander' Truelsen. When PFLP wants to train them for a specific operation, Gert gets scared, flees home to Denmark and is expelled from KUF for "unreliable and indecent behaviour". Xander also left KUF before the real Gang activity began in 1972.
* June to July 1970: Jens Holger Jensen, Peter Døllner and Jørgen Poulsen in PFLP training camps in Lebanon and Jordan. During those months founders of the German RAF and Carlos the Jackal are also trained in PFLP camps in Jordan, but may not have met the KUF members.
* September 1-22, 1970: Gotfred Appel and Ulla Hauton visit the PFLP in Jordan, including a visit to the site of the simultaneous infamous Dawson's Field hijackings, they escape just as the Jordan government strikes back (the Black September).
* September 8, 1970: KUF attempts arsen with Molotov cocktails against the Danish "Bella Center" conference center in an attempt to prevent the upcoming World Bank Summit.
* September 20-25, 1970: KUF spearheads the violent demonstrations against the 1970 World Bank Summit. Gotfred Appel avoids arrest because he can prove he was out of the country (see above).
* November 21, 1970: Niels Jørgensen arrested for pro-PFLP graffiti.
* Late 1970: To avoid further troubles with the police KAK/KUF is converted from a very active group of violent demonstrators to a very secret underground cell lead by Gottfred Appel, Ulla Hauton and Jens Holger Jensen. The former top activist Hans 'Xander' Truelsen refuses to participate and leaves the organization.
* July 1971: Gotfred Appel and Ulla Hauton negotiate with PFLP-leader Wadi Haddad in Beirut, Lebanon.
* Between December 22, 1972 and January 10, 1973, KUF breaks into a small Danish National Guard depot and steals 3 machine pistols, 4 machine guns, some armor piercing riffles etc., each complete with its locked-up vital parts, ammunition, tools and other accessories. No other items (not even cash money) is taken. Some of these weapons are found in the gang hideout after their arrest in 1989.
* June 27, 1975: The coordinator of all European PFLP activities Michel Moukharbal is arrested in Paris and briefly betrays the organization, leading French police to a hideout where Carlos is partying. Carlos kills Moukharbal and 2 policemen, wounding the third. Amongst Moukharbal's papers is a reference to KAK and KOUF [sic] (KUF misspelled in French).
* July 1975: Jens Holger Jensen leads field trip to PFLP in Lebanon.
* December 9, 1975: The gang robs a transport of cash to the local branch of the unemployment fund of the Manual Workers Union. Amount robbed: DKK 0.5 million (US$ 0.081 million [U.S. Federal reserve: [http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h10/hist/default1989.htm|Historic exchange rates before 1989] , retrieved on May 22, 2008] ).
* September 2, 1976: The gang robs a transport of cash from a post office. Amount robbed: DKK 0.55 million (US$ 0.091 million).
* November 8, 1976: The gang uses fake duplicate tax return money orders (each with a small realistic amount) and fake drivers licenses to defraud the Postal service of a total amount of DKK 1.4 million (US$ 0.24 million). (It is suspected that Jan Weimann had inside knowledge of the security codes in the brand new money order system).
* February 1977: Gotfred Appel, Ulla Hauton and Jens Holger Jensen negotiates with Wadi Haddad in Baghdad, Iraq.
* 1977: Jens Holger Jensen may have staked out Palma de Mallorca Airport in preparation of the joint PFLP/RAF Landshut Hijacking.
* December 31, 1977: Secret live fire training exercise in a forest, using the New Years fireworks as a cover. This is the only illegal action in which Gotfred Appel was ever provably actively involved, as he was the lookout and was stopped by Police in possession of a radio illegally tuned to the police band.
* May 1979 PFLP Intelligence chief Marwan El-Fahoum becomes KA's new primary PFLP contact.
* October 9, 1979: Jens Holger Jensen and Niels Jørgensen fake a trip to the USA to go underground for a year. 6 days later nameless wanted-posters for "person 1" and "person 2" are secretly circulated to Danish Police.
* July 7, 1980: The gang kidnap a bank manager and his family in their own home and try to get access to the bank vault. It fails and the family is released.
* September 15, 1980: During a stakeout near Aarhus, Denmark while Niels Jørgensen is briefly outside the van, a runaway lorry crashes head first into the stakeout van killing Jens Holger Jensen instantly. Niels Jørgensen pretends he was never there and presents himself later to take possession of various items from the scene.
* March 19, 1981: Peter Døllner arrested for using a fake drivers license in an assumed name to collect the proceeds from selling another stakeout van. The punishment is just a fine.
* July 1981: All of KA visits PFLP in Lebanon.
* 1982 to 1984: Bo Weimann begins compiling a file of potential Mossad operatives in Denmark. The file happens to include a lot of Jews, but the group later insists that listing or killing Jews in general was never the goal, just figuring out which ones were actively fighting for Mossad in a manner similar to KA's own relationship with the PFLP.
* April 2, 1982: The gang robs postal workers carrying cash to a bank, Amount robbed: DKK .786 million (US$ 0.096 million) in cash and DKK 72 million in worthless checks.
* November 9, 1982: The gang breaks into a Swedish army depot and steals a large amount of heavy weaponry (mostly Swedish brands), including bazookas, anti-personal mines, plastic explosives and boxes of ammunition. All with complete accessories etc.rp|122-123
* February 1983: The gang stakes out several Swedish police stations as potential targets for stealing light weaponryrp|123-128. The plan is dropped because they do not believe there are enough guns in each police station to justify the riskrp|128-129.
* March 2, 1983: The gang robs an armored Bank van. Amount robbed: DKK 8.3 million (US$ 0.96 million).
* March 26, 1983: Two Palestinian PFLP-members arrested in Paris with DKK 6 million in suspicious cash. The investigation is bungled.
* September 1983: Stakeout of a Norwegian army depot in the hope of repeating the success from the Swedish depotrp|129-133. The plans are dropped because transporting the previously obtained Swedish weapons to the PFLP on the West Bank turns out to be too difficultrp|133-134.
* 1984 to 1988: Small consignments of stolen weapons are carefully packaged and literally buried in various forests near Vienna, Zürich and Paris for later pickup by PFLP or its alliesrp|135-137.
* 1982 to 1985: With funding and practical assistance from PFLP, the gang plans and prepares to kidnap billionaire son Jörn Rausing from his home in Sweden, intending to demand a US$ 25 million ransom. The plan fails seconds before the grab on January 7, 1985 apparently because the original stakeout got the hinges on his front door wrong. PFLP pressures the gang to try again, but the stress from the long high-stakes preparations makes the gang fall apart and the kidnap is not retriedrp|246-306.
* September 27, 1985: The gang's hideout is moved from its old address to a new apartment on Blekinge Street. The new hideout apartment is rented in the name of a fictive computer club and all documents are signed in the name of a stolen identity, while paying the bills in cashrp|310-311.
* December 3, 1985: The gang robs a money transport from a post officerp|307-310. Amount robbed: DKK 1.5 million in cash (US$ 0.16 million) an DKK 68 million in canceled checksrp|308.
* June 3, 1986: Niels Jørgensen arrested during an attempted car theft. To avoid arousing any suspicion by the gang, the police pretends to believe his cover story and the charges are silently reduced to a finerp|350-365.
* September 3, 1986: A police informant leads French police to one of the buried consignments of weapons, near Paris. It is not discovered who buried the weapons, only that PFLP was the intended recipientrp|137-138.
* Monday December 22, 1986: The gang robs the weekends takings of Danish clothing mega store " _da. Daells Varehus", as those takings are being picked up by a bank courierrp|371-380. During the escape from the mega store, they fight off several shop employees, including the security chief (a former elite soldier) who sustains a fractured skull from pistol-beatingrp|371-372. For their next robbery the gang therefore develops a new soft baton designed not to cause skull fractures. Amount robbed: about DKK 4.7 million (US$ 0.63 million) in cashrp|374,376.
* November 3, 1987 at 05:13:40 am: The gang's last robbery, a postal transport of money and valuables is robbed as it arrives at the old central postal office. As the gang leaves with their takings, the Police arrives earlier than anticipatedrp|430-461. In the ensuing shootout, a rookie police officer is killed by buckshot from the sawnoff shotgun used during the robberyrp|451-461. This enrages the police so badly, that they decide to actually share information between the secret police and the robbery squad. Amount robbed: DKK 9.3 million (US$ 1.4 million) in cash and bearer bonds plus about DKK 5 million in other valuables.
* April 13, 1988: The police arrests Peter Døllner, Torkil Lauesen, Jan Weimann, Niels Jørgensen and Niels Jørgensen's ex-wife. However a search of their homes and workplaces does not provide any useful evidence except for some identical sets of keys which the police realise are the keys to the gang's secret hideout, address unknown (to the police).
* April 13 to May 2, 1988: Carsten Nielsen becomes scared and slightly paranoid by the arrests, realizing he is next. However he manages to remove or destroy some of the evidence from the hideout in Blekinge Street, while staying with friends and family, constantly on the moverp|28-52.
* May 2, 1988: Carsten Nielsen accidentally drives his rented car (in his brothers name) into a lamppost, is disfigured and blinded by the crash and is picked up by traffic police, who get him sent to hospital and searches the car. Amongst the items in the car is a utility bill for the hideout in Blekingegade. Carsten Nielsen is arrested in his hospital bedrp|9-21.
* May 2, 1988: The police searches the hideout and discovers plenty of evidence awaiting destruction as well as a massive cache of weaponry not yet shipped to the PFLPrp|53-72. The sensational find of so much weaponry in a residential building makes the press give the gang its nickname "The Blekinge Street Gang".
* September 3, 1990 to May 2, 1991: Trial and convictionrp|479-497,503-510. Due to the statute of limitations, all crimes before ca. 1980 and some later crimes are not included in the chargesrp|496. In this article, those crimes are listed according to claims in the books cited. Due to problems proving which gang member pulled the trigger or at least proving that the gang had planned to use deadly force, no person has (as of 2008) been convicted for the death of the young police officer.
* November 8, 1991: Sentences confirmed by the supreme court on appealrp|510.
* October 1993: Marc Rudin is separately convicted for his role in the last robberyrp|510-511.
* December 13, 1995: The remaining gang members still in prison are released on parole (good behavior + 2/3 of the sentence served)rp|512,523.

References

External links

* [http://www.oevig.dk Peter Øvig Knudsens home page]
* [http://jp.dk/uknews/article1291846.ece Historic crime investigation was quashed]
* [http://www.danishliterarymagazine.info/18890029 Living Memory]
* [http://www.jernesalt.dk/blekingeengl.asp Blekingegadebanden – The Gang of Blekinge Street]
* [http://snylterstaten.dk "Antiimperialisme & snylterstat", online extracts from KAK and KA publications (in Danish)]


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