Terror threat level ‘enters new phase’

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Norway’s national intelligence agency PST (Politiets Sikkerhetstjeneste) unveiled its latest assessment of national security on Thursday and there’s cause for concern. PST chief Janne Kristiansen said the level of threats against the country is changing, while certain Muslim circles are becoming more radical.

“It worries us a lot, and it’s an increasing problem outside of Oslo also,” Kristiansen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) after a press conference in Oslo.

“We’re seeing something new,” she said. “Norway is in the process of going over into a new phase,” that is prompting police and national security experts to reevaluate the possibility of terrorist attacks in Norway.

Long considered one of the more peaceful corners of the globe, Norway and Scandinavia as a whole hasn’t entirely avoided the sort of radical views that have blossomed in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. “We see trends and a development similar to that in other countries in Europe, where terror has been carried out, and attempted, earlier,” Kristiansen said.

Radical remarks made by one Muslim activist in Norway, Mohyeldeen Mohammad, at otherwise peaceful demonstrations in Oslo last weekend, and subsequent threats that he directed at homosexuals and newspaper Dagbladet have caused alarm. Kristiansen said the 24-year-old Mohammad is under surveillance. He was briefly held by police on Wednesday and faces charges for making threats.

The radical groups, including a cluster of followers around Mohammad, are small, according to PST intelligence. “But we also know that terrorists operate in small groups, so it’s very worrisome,” Kristiansen said. The small groups can develop, she said, “in environments where young people want to find an identity, and haven’t found their place yet.” Norwegian intelligence experts are working closely with their counterparts in Spain, England and Denmark, and trends there are showing up in Norway.

The threat of an actual terrorist attack in Norway is not high, she said, “but we are following the situation intensely.” Reports emerged more than two years ago that PST was worried about recruitment into radical groups in Norway, and Kristiansen said “the most important thing is to have contact with young people who may be on the verge of becoming radical … and tell them that it’s possible to hop off the train before it’s too late. It’s important to have dialogue, show understanding and respect for them.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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