Anti-terrorism efforts ‘inadequate’

Norwegian police are failing to confront extremists and lack the resources necessary to mount more effective anti-terrorism efforts, according to critics at the US Embassy in Oslo. They’re not satisfied with Norway’s own attempts to prevent terrorist attacks.

Norwegian police aren't well-enough equipped to combat terrorism, according to diplomats at the US Embassy. PHOTO: Politi

New documents made available by WikiLeaks, and presented in newspaper Aftenposten on Wednesday, offer more details of the US criticism that has emerged earlier. American terrorism experts apparently believe that “quite radical” elements within specific Muslim groups are developing in Norway, but Norwegian politicians aren’t doing much to nip it in the bud.

Young, unemployed Pakistani-Norwegians, for example, can form a high-risk group, according to the American critics. Kevin Johnson, the former chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Oslo, wrote in one report that he was very worried over the frustration many immigrants meet in Norway, because feelings of not being accepted and integrated can form a basis for radicalism.

Johnson specifically pointed to Arfan Bhatti, who at age 13 became the  youngest member of the Young Guns gang in Oslo and went on to a life of crime. In 2006 he was arrested on charges of planning a terrorist attack, and linked to the shots fired at a synagogue n Oslo, but he was later acquitted.

Bhatti, wrote Johnson, is an example of what Norwegian officials can expect, as young Pakistani-Norwegians are attracted to criminal activity that later can lead to terrorism.

Norwegian politicians were branded as “passive” and “slow” in the confidential embassy cables, while police resisted confronting potentially extremist groups.

Other documents revealed that the former chief of Norway’s special police intelligence unit PST warned US officials that Norway lacked the necessary resources to combat terrorism. Jørn Holme, who recently stepped down as PST boss, reportedly told the new chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy last year that Norway has neither the physical nor technical resources to conduct needed surveillance.

US diplomats have criticized Norway’s anti-terrorism efforts earlier. Holme, now Norway’s chief of historic preservation (Riksantikvar), told Aftenposten he had not met the man who wrote the report and otherwise had no further comment.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
Join our Forum if you’d like to comment on this story.