Norway’s ‘other’ terror trial begins

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They’ve been somewhat overshadowed by a lone Norwegian terrorist’s attacks in and near Oslo last summer, but three other men suspected of planning terrorist acts in Norway remain in custody and their trial got underway this week. Prosecutors believe they were linked to terrorist organization al-Qaida.

The three men, who all came to Norway as asylum seekers, are mainly suspected of plotting to blow up the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, because of its decision to publish caricatures of the prophet Mohammed that Muslims deemed offensive. Prosecutors also claim the suspects targeted the newspaper’s now-retired artist who drew the caricatures, Kurt Westergaard.

‘Not guilty’
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that one of the three defendants, 38-year-old Shawan Bujak, said in court on Tuesday that he and many others would like to see Westergaard dead. But Bujak, an Iraqi Kurd who came to Norway in 1999, has pleaded “not guilty” to the charges against him, as have the other two defendants.

They include 40-year-old Mikael Davud, a Uighur originally from northwest China formerly known as Muhammed Rashidin, and 33-year-old David Jakobsen, formerly known as Afdulaif Alisjer from Uzbekistan. Davud also arrived in Norway in 1999, and Jakobsen in 2002. All were arrested in July 2010 after Norwegian police, with assistance from foreign colleagues, started monitoring the three men’s movements and launched an investigation in August 2009.

Jakobsen later started cooperating with the authorities but also is charged in the case. Davud and Bujak are seen as facing the most serious charges.

‘Evidence’ found in Davud’s home
Police and prosecutors, according to news bureau NTB, claim they found evidence of “terror material” in Davud’s home including weapons manuals, instructions on how to make bombs, propaganda videos and media sound files from al-Qaida with what’s described as “extreme ideology.”

Prosecutors also said they’d present evidence that  Davud traveled to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan where he received instruction on the use of bombs. They claim he took contact with Bujak upon his return to Norway, and that they together planned an attack on Jyllands-Posten that later was revised with the intention of killing Westergaard.

Defense attorneys for Davud, who earlier told police he wanted to bomb the Chinese Embassy in Oslo, claim they can prove he’s never been in Pakistan. The trial is being held in the Oslo City Court (Tinghuset), where confessed terrorist Anders Behring Breivik was in court on Monday.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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