Great Nordic Biker War
|Great Nordic Biker War|
|Date||26 January 1994 – 25 September 1997|
Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden
|Caused by||Drug-trade criminal dispute|
|Resulted in||Truce. Agreement that no new chapters would be opened in the Nordic countries|
|Parties to the civil conflict|
|Casualties and losses|
|12 dead (11 bikers, 1 civilian)|
The Great Nordic Biker War, sometimes called the Great Northern Biker War or Great Scandinavian Biker War, refers to the violent gang war that began in 1994 and continued until 1997 in many parts of Scandinavia, mainly involving Hells Angels MC and Bandidos MC but also involving many prospect and support clubs. The cities mainly affected by the war were Copenhagen in Denmark, Helsinki in Finland, Oslo in Norway, and Helsingborg and Malmö in Sweden.
The Copenhagen MC War (1983–85)
On 30 December 1980, the then "United MC" was appointed the first Hells Angels (HA) chapter in Scandinavia. Their long-standing opponents "Filthy Few" were not keen to accept the new chapter at any level. Along with several members of other Copenhagen MC-clubs they formed the hard anti-Hells Angels MC-crew known as Bullshit MC. They settled at Christiania, benefited from the cannabis trade there, and, in September 1983, paid a visit to a well-known Hells Angels pub. This visit instigated a bloodbath that would last for the following two years and four months. The result of this first Scandinavian MC-war was the murder of eight Bullshit members (including three presidents), one Hells Angels member, and two innocent people. In addition, Bullshit MC members were also prime suspects for the murder of two non-bikers during the war. When the police visited the former club house of Bullshit in 1986, they also found the corpse of a man beneath the clubhouse floor. The first war was limited to Copenhagen alone, unlike the second, and the number of deaths during the Copenhagen war met or exceeded the number of deaths in the following war. Unlike the second war, the first had a clear winner and no "peace treaty" was required.
In 1984 Morticians MC was formed and by the early 1990s, there were many motorcycle clubs across Scandinavia. In 1992, the Morticians and Hells Angels, who had been on good terms until then, became rivals as both clubs transformed from bike enthusiasts into criminal organizations. The Morticians then changed their name to Undertakers MC and became allies of the Bandidos, whose only European chapter was based in Marseille, France at that point. In 1993, the Undertakers merged with the Bandidos to become Bandidos MC Denmark. In 1994 the Hells Angels tried to prevent Morbids MC from growing into an established biker gang and potential rival in Sweden. The Morbids then joined an alliance with the Bandidos, who backed-up their prospect club. Outlaws MC also joined with the Bandidos in Norway.
Police and prosecutors described the conflict as a drug-trade war between the two most powerful outlaw biker gangs in Scandinavia, the Hells Angels and the Bandidos, a "deadly game" to prove "who's the toughest". Many of the port cities in Scandinavia, particularly Copenhagen, were used to smuggle drugs in from Spain and the Netherlands. However, the criminologist Joi Bay criticised this assumption, saying that the police tactics were ineffective because they were based on the incorrect premise that the motivation of the bikers was profit, while in fact they were driven by values such as honor, style, respect, and brotherhood, and any drug crimes were incidental. In retrospective interviews in 2014, involved bikers rejected the drug-trade war interpretation and said the war started from a purely personal confrontation when the small Morbids club (with only six members) refused to capitulate to the larger Hells Angels.
Between 1994 and 1997, there were at least thirty-six break-ins at Swedish and Danish Army installations; at least sixteen Bofors anti-tank missiles, ten machine guns, around three-hundred handguns, sixty-seven fully automatic rifles, two-hundred-and-five rifles of various calibres, hundreds of hand grenades and land mines, and seventeen kilograms of explosives plus detonators were stolen. Police believe the Bandidos or their support clubs were responsible for the majority of the thefts. The Hells Angels obtained Russian- and Yugoslavian-made rocket launchers as well as surplus machine guns and rifles from East European countries.
The conflict saw the use of the Swedish AT4 eight times, and the Russian RPG-22 three times. Hand grenades were used four times and a booby trap once. Car bombs were utilized three times, while other types of explosives were also used on three occasions. The bombs used scaled in size between one and five kilograms.
According to a 1997 report by The New York Times, the Bandidos presence in the Nordic countries at the time of the war consisted of around 130 members from at least seven chapters while the Hells Angels contingent was made up of around 290 members in total from 15 chapters, with 85 in Sweden, 110 in Denmark, 70 in Norway and 25 in Finland.
The first incident was a shooting at the clubhouse of Morbids MC, on 26 January 1994 in Helsingborg, Sweden, but no one was injured or killed. In February 1994, there was a shoot-out between Hells Angels and Bandidos members in the same city, resulting in the death of Joakim Boman, a member of Rednecks MC, a Hells Angels support club. Just days later, an anti-tank rocket was fired at the Hells Angels clubhouse. On 22 June 1994, the president of Klan MC, an ally of the Bandidos in Finland, was shot dead by the Hells Angels and on 19 February 1995, the war reached Norway as a shoot-out in Oslo between the Hells Angels and Bandidos ended in one biker being wounded.
Michael "Joe" Ljunggren, the president of Bandidos MC Sweden, was assassinated on 17 July 1995 and the Bandidos retaliated by firing anti-tank rockets at the clubhouses of Hells Angels prospect clubs in Helsinki, Finland and Helsingborg, Sweden nine days later. Two Bandidos members were later sentenced, Kai Tapio Blom was given six years imprisonment and Antti Tauno Tapani was given four years. When Bandidos MC Finland's president arrived at a Helsinki court house for the trial of Blom and Tapani, he was attacked and beaten by Hells Angels and Cannonball MC members. A Hells Angels-owned tattoo parlour in Helsinki was later destroyed in retaliation.
On Christmas Day 1995, two Hells Angels members were beaten up by Bandidos at a nightclub in Copenhagen, signalling the beginning of the war in Denmark. In January 1996, there was a series of bombings in Norway, Hells Angels prospect club, Screwdrivers MC's clubhouse in Hamar and the Hells Angels' clubhouse in Oslo were the targets. A Hells Angels-owned bar in Helsinki, Finland was also bombed a month later. On 1 March 1996, the Hells Angels attacked the Bandidos' Helsinki clubhouse where two Bandidos members suffered gunshot wounds. Jarkko Kokko, the vice-president of Bandidos MC Finland and one of the men shot, died sixteen days later in hospital from his wounds. Two Hells Angels prospects were later arrested for the murder, Ilkka Ukkonen was sentenced to twelve and a half years in prison and Jussi Penttinen was given six years.
On 10 March 1996, there were twin attacks on Bandidos members at airports in Denmark and Norway; at Fornebu airport in Oslo, several Bandidos were wounded and at Kastrup Airport in Copenhagen, Bandidos who were returning from a weekend in Helsinki were shot, three wounded and one, Uffe Larsen, was killed. Six Hells Angels members and associates were arrested and sentenced to a total of 53 years in prison, and one was given a life sentence. In April and May 1996, there was another series of bombings as the Hells Angels clubhouses in Helsingborg, Sweden and southern Denmark were attacked and the clubhouse of a Hells Angels prospect club, Avengers MC, was also attacked in Aalborg, Denmark.
Jan "Face" Krogh Jensen, a Danish Bandidos member, was shot and killed in Drammen, Norway on 15 July 1996 and Hells Angels supporter was shot six days later in Oslo. Two Hells Angels were also shot and wounded that month in Malmö, Sweden and at Jyderup prison in Denmark. On 28 August, the vice-president of Hells Angels MC Sweden was shot and wounded in Helsingborg.
In October 1996, there were three attacks on Hells Angels clubhouses; in the third of these, an explosion in Malmö wounded twelve civilian bystanders and three days later, an anti-tank rocket was fired at a clubhouse in Copenhagen during a party. Hells Angels prospect Louis Linde Nielsen, and guest Janne Krohn were both killed. Bandidos prospect Niels Poulsen was convicted of carrying out the attacks and sentenced to life in prison. On the 30th, a car bomb exploded outside the Hells Angels clubhouse in Oslo. Toward the end of 1996, there were shootings of Bandidos members in Horsens and Aalborg in Denmark.
At the beginning of 1997, a member of Hells Angels, Kim Thrysöe Svendsen was murdered in Aalborg and the president of the Outlaws, Thore "Henki" Holm Hansen and a French member were shot and wounded by a member of Untouchables MC, a Hells Angels ally. Bandidos foot-soldiers were also shot in Amager and Køge in Denmark. The Bandidos responded by ordering shootings on Hells Angels members and allies in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen.
On 4 June 1997, a car bomb exploded outside a Bandidos clubhouse in Drammen, Norway, killing Irene Astrid Bækkevold, a civilian passing by in her car. A Hells Angels member was convicted of the bombing in 2002. Three days later, Björn Gudmandsen was killed and three other Bandidos were wounded after a shooting in Liseleje, Denmark. Hells Angels member Vagn Smith was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. The last incident happened on 11 April when the Bandidos clubhouse in Dalby, Denmark was bombed.
The war ended on 25 September 1997 as "Big" Jim Tinndahn, the president of all of the Bandidos' European chapters, shook hands with Hells Angels Europe president Bent "Blondie" Nielsen in front of Danish TV news cameras.
By the end of the war, 11 murders and 74 attempted murders had been committed and 96 people were wounded. Both clubs signed a treaty saying that no more chapters would be opened up in Scandinavia, but both sides had already broken the treaty by the end of the 1990s. In Denmark, a law that banned motorcycle clubs from owning or renting property for their club activities was passed. The law has subsequently been repealed on constitutional grounds.
- "Angels of Death: Inside the Bikers' Empire of Crime". Randomhouse.ca. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- TV-series "24 timer vi aldrig glemmer" (24 hours we'll never forget), episode "Mordet på Makrellen" (The murder of "The Mackerel") "Makrellen" (Henning Norbert Knudsen) was the first Bullshit president, hence the programme focused on his murder, but also on the entire MC-war. Broadcast on DR2 on 2 August 2012. This bikie war had a significant presence not only in the Danish media but also in southern Sweden.
- "Angels go Global". History.ca. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- Wahlund, Anders; Wallberg, Peter (1996). "Motorcykelgäng ställer polisen inför nya problem" [Biker Gangs Create New Problems for Police]. Apropå (in Swedish) (5–6). Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
- Kristiansson, Ulf (11 January 2014). "MC-kriget som skakade Norden" [The Biker War that Shook the Nordic Countries]. Helsingborgs Dagblad (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 5 October 2018. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
- The Mammoth Book of Bikers Archived 15 June 2020 at the Wayback Machine Arthur Veno (2007)
- "Sweden's Courteous Police Spoil A Hell's Angels Clubhouse Party". Archived from the original on 7 November 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
- "The Danish Biker Wars". Dinosmc.com. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- "Airport Attack Leaves One Biker Dead". Findarticles.com. Archived from the original on 28 May 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- "Biker Sentenced To Life For Grenade Attack". Highbeam.com. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- "Danish Bikers Call Truce in Deadly Feud". Independent.co.uk. 26 September 1997. Archived from the original on 6 July 2017. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- "Biker Wars in the Land of 'The Little Mermaid'". New York Times. 6 May 1996. Archived from the original on 9 November 2020. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- Reuters in Stockholm (16 January 2020). "Drug gang violence in Sweden linked to 60% increase in bomb blasts". Guardian. Archived from the original on 21 January 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
- Henrik Tham (3 December 2019). "Gangs of the North". International Politics and Society. Archived from the original on 26 December 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2020.