Prosecutors from Norway’s police intelligence agency PST (Politietssikkerhetstjeneste) got only half the time they requested for custody of two men suspected of plotting a terrorist attack in Norway. The two central Asian suspects will initially be held for four weeks, the first two in complete isolation.
An Oslo court ruled Monday that David Jakobsen, age 31 from Uzbekistan, and Mikael Davud, age 39 of Uyghur background, can be held while police continue to investigate the terrorist charges against them. Prosecutors had asked for eight weeks in remand custody.
Both are charged with planning a terrorist attack in Norway. The case against them took an unusual turn on Monday, when it was revealed that Jakobsen had become an informant for the PST.
He remains charged with planning a terrorist attack, though, and has had earlier legal problems as well. Several Norwegian media outlets reported over the weekend that Jakobsen, formerly known as Abdulaif Alisjer, is suspected of draining a building firm he ran of several million kroner before it was forced into bankruptcy last year.
The leader of the three terrorist suspects, however, is believed to be 39-year-old Mikael Davud, formerly known as Muhammed Rashidin, a Uyghur who arrived in Norway in 1999. He ran a kiosk in Bergen until he moved to Sarpsborg, near Norway’s southern border to Sweden, in 2003.
German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that Davud spent the winter of 2008-2009 in the Pakistani province of Waziristan, where terrorist group al-Qaida is believed to run training camps.
Concerns over radical Uyghur group
Newspaper Aftenposten reported over the weekend that PST has been concerned about a radical Uyghur community that has developed in Norway. They reportedly believe Davud recruited both Jakobsen and the third suspect, 37-year-old Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak from Iraq, to terrorist activity. All three reportedly lived in Sarpsborg and nearby Fredrikstad for several years.
Some researchers point to a central Asian terror network involving both Uyghurs and Uzbeks who speak a similar language and “understand each other.”
A spokesman for Uyghurs in Norway, however, said he was “really shocked” that a member of their community would resort to terrorism. “I never would have believed that an Uyghur would do something like this,” Nadire Muzekper told newspaper Dagsavisen.
Other Uyghurs point out that Norway has granted asylum to hundreds of Uyghurs who are refugees from Chinese authorities, and that Norway has advocated human rights for the Uyghur population in western China. “How could someone turn against the country that’s given them protection,” asked one local Uyghur.
Another, Semet Abla, told Dagsavisen that Uyghurs in Norway are “peaceful, moderate and educated people.” Their political leader, Rebiya Kadeer, received Norway’s Rafto Prize in 2004 and has long been considered a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.