UPDATED: Two of the three Norwegian residents arrested on terrorism charges last summer confessed in Oslo on Tuesday to plans to launch terrorist attacks. Their targets: China’s embassy in Oslo and the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
The communications chief for Norway’s police intelligence unit PST (Politiets Sikkerhetstjeneste), Trond Hugubakken, first confirmed to VG Nett “that one of those charged in the terrorism case has confessed to planning terror.”
When asked what was the target of the terror plan, Hugubakken said it probably was not in Norway, despite earlier indications that it was. Asked whether the target was the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which sparked outrage in the muslim world when it published caricatures of the prophet Mohammed in 2005, Hugubakken told VG Nett: “Yes, according to what he has declared, it seems the newspaper was their target.”
Confessed under questioning
Terrorist suspect Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak, a 37-year-old Iraqi Kurd who arrived in Norway seeking asylum in 1999, was called in by PST for questioning on Tuesday morning. He and the two other terrorist suspects are being held in separate prisons in the Oslo area, and now PST is calling them in for questioning as well.
One of them, a 31-year-old man from Uzbekistan who also came to Norway as an asylum seeker and changed his name to David Jakobsen, has been an informant for PST since allegedly growing uneasy over what the two others were planning. All three, though, are suspected of running a terror cell from Oslo so he was arrested in July as well. There also have been reports that they were trying to arrange a false passport for a British terror suspect, and that they had been been trying to build bombs.
Jakobsen had seemed to be the most cooperative of the three after admitting to being an informant, appearing in court and allowing himself to be photographed. The third suspect, Uyghur asylum seeker Muhammed Rashidin who became a Norwegian citizen in 2007 and changed his name to Mikael Davud, has been considered the leader of the three and the most uncooperative.
Both Jakobsen and Davud have denied having anything to do with terror plans, as had Bujak. Jakobsen and Davud were brought in for new questioning on Tuesday, where they were confronted with Bujak’s confession.
Changed his story
Later in the day, Davud changed his story. He denied targeting Jyllands-Posten but reportedly admitted to planning terrorist attacks against “Chinese interests outside China.” Davud’s defense attorney Carl Konow Rieber-Mohn told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that his local target was the Chinese Embassy in Oslo’s Vinderen district.
Rieber-Mohn told NRK his client didn’t think diplomacy would help “liberate the Uyghurs’ area, which now is occupied by the Chinese. It’s an occupation that has gone on for 80 years, and he wanted to employ strong methods.” That included “building a bomb” and setting it off at the embassy, which is located in a mostly residential area.
Arild Humlen, another defense attorney in the terrorist case, also told news bureau NTB that Davud had admitted plans to attack Chinese interests, and he “used the other two as errand boys.” Humlen said neither of the two others were told about Davud’s motives.
Humlen said Davud told police on Tuesday that many of his family members and relatives had been killed by the Chinese. He denied having ties to the Al-Qaida terror network.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre revealed last month that Chinese authorities have wanted Norway to extradite Davud back to China, which he fled in the 1990s. Støre made it clear to his hosts during a trip to China in August that Davud is now a Norwegian citizen, would be tried in Norway and would not be extradited.
The Chinese Embassy in Oslo issued a statement suggesting that the arrests in Oslo demonstrated that forces from the “East Turkistan Islamic Movement” are “ganging up” with international terrorist forces and “will continue to plot violent terrorist activities no matter where they are.” The embassy called for strengthening cooperation between China and Norway to “crack down” on the “East Turkistan forces.”
The editor of Jyllands-Posten, Jørn Mikkelsen, told his own newspaper that news of the confessed terrorism attack plan was “extremely shocking” for all of the paper’s employees and their families.
The paper has been under near-constant threat, though, since publishing the Mohammed caricatures five years ago. Last year, two American men were arrested in Chicago, suspected of planning an attack on the paper, while a 40-year-old man injured by his own bomb in Copenhagen earlier this month also was suspected of planning an attack on the newspaper.