In my search for The Dane I have read a lot about wars and the horrors of them. I have become increasingly fascinated by the people who put themselves on the frontlines to help and not to kill. The real heroes of war are the ones who are willing to sacrifice their own health and even lives in order to save and help others. They are the volunteers and workers from organizations like Red Cross, Red Crescent, Doctors Without Borders and many more.

Besides the volunteers working directly in the war zones these organizations also work to end wars and conflicts in other ways. They do a lot of lobbying and press related work and work hard to stop people from becoming refugees by stopping conflicts or at least prevent them from growing too large. 

Some of the work they do consists of gathering information and testimonies from the wars where they participate. Reading this can be both fascinating and terrifying at the same time. It is fascinating to read about the selflessness of these volunteers and peace workers but terrifying because some of the accounts are personal and horrific stories from the first row in a war. 

It was while I was reading one of these accounts from the first war in Chechnya, that I stumbled upon some new information about the Dane. I now think that he was in Chechnya, and that something happened that changed him or his life in some way.

This was back in 1994 and 1995. There were many new national states that weren’t a part of the Soviet Union anymore. They had all made different, independent agreements with Russia regarding their degree of co-dependence. Except for Chechnya and Tatarstania who somehow could find common ground with Russia. In 1994 Tatarstania did close the deal which left only Chechnya without one. 

As early as 1991 a man called Dzjochar Dudajev had declared the independence of Chechnya and named himself president of the state. Whether he abused his position and maybe even was paranoid and falsely accused other countries of weird things or not is not really the point here since this is the story about The Dane and not a history lesson on Chechnya. 

It does however matter that not everyone in Chechnya agreed with the new president. There were internal struggles and rebellion and in 1994 Russia openly entered the conflict by sending 40.000 soldiers into the country to support the rebels against the president. 

This set of what was to become a long lasting war. Most of us do remember the violent stories, news and images from Groznyj when it was under siege in 1994 and the start of 1995. 

The siege ended when the city was bombed to pieces  and lastly had to surrender to the enemy forces. This is now known as the first war in Chechnya. It happened while Boris Yeltsin was president in Russia and it was a long unstructured mess of a conflict which was strongly criticized in Russia and other countries around the world. 

The conflict ended with Chechnya gaining its independence but there was never complete peace afterwards. 

The second war in Chechnya happened when Putin was president and it had a different outcome. After that war Chechnya was once again a part of Russia. These days the nation isn’t exactly what you would describe as at peace. There are still conflicts and the Russian troops are still fighting rebels. 

We have to go back to the first war to find The Dane. 

The war was bloody and terrible. It was well known that Russia was present in the conflict even before they openly sent in the 40.000 soldiers. They had armed the rebels fighting the president and they were supporting them financially. They were also helping them gather intelligence and information on the enemy and they even paid mercenaries to fight for the rebels. 

The war has, by many, been described as a copy of the war between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan. The Russian side was haunted by a bad morale and the soldiers had a hard time fighting their way in the terrain. The rebels fought the same kind of guerilla warfare as the Afghans. Hiding in the mountain and making small fast attacks and ambushes. 

The war got increasingly brutal as it went on and after the fall of Groznyj in 1995 an extra effort was made to clean up the mess and erase all armed opposition. This is where I found The Dane. 

This image is page 33 in a long document from Doctors Without Borders. It is about their view on the war in Chechnya and the war crimes committed. 

Document from Doctors Without Borders mentioning The Dane
The Dane mentioned in the third text block in the right column.

The complete document can be found here: https://www.msf.org/sites/msf.org/files/pdf_inter_tchetchenie_va.pdf.   

After having found The Dane mentioned on page 33. I have searched through the entire document, but I haven’t found him anywhere else. 

The point of interest here is the third block of text in the column on the right. Here we hear from Sara S. when talking about a father in shock: “He kept talking about a ghost ‘Ac Qui’ that all feared but who had switched sides and helped them escaped.” 

We know that The Dane is also known as Ac Qui. From “Blog 7 – A Mercenary” we know that he has worked with or for the Russians before. It is therefore very likely that The Dane was hired as a mercenary to work for the Russians in Chechnya. 

This gets even more exciting if you start to wonder what the father means, when he says that Ac Qui has changed sides in this conflict. 

I have thought a lot about what it could mean. The best explanation I can come up with is the following:

The Dane, who might be a man called Ole who used to live in Odense in Denmark, worked for the Russians in Afghanistan. They know him and they know his methods. They hire him, along with other mercenaries, to do their dirty work in Chechnya. 

As the war drags on, the Russians have to deploy their army in the country as well as the mercenaries and secret agents. In the beginning they struggle to gain control, but eventually they take Groznyj and start hunting down rebels all over the country. It is a brutal hunt and there are many civilian victims despite the Russian promises to leave them alone. 

At some point in all this, The Dane realizes that he is becoming a part of something that he has hated the Americans for doing for so many years – slaughtering civilians in the name of the war. So he decides to switch sides and help the civilians escape. 

It might be a lot to read into just a few lines spoken by an interpreter, who heard it from a father in shock, but it is the only way that I can make it fit into the rest of the events. 

In 1991 The Dane was in Sudan. As written in “Blog 9 – Sudan” he probably faced a choice. Was he going to be a mercenary og terrorist? There are indications that he (here in 1995)n chose to continue being a soldier and not kill civilians.

I still have to find out how he went from this to running a training camp in Afghanistan in 2001. Maybe he didn’t know the true purpose of the training or maybe he is so twisted by now, that he no longer has any kind of reliable moral compass.

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