High-tech terror tops threat ranking

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Norway’s military intelligence unit known as “E-tjenesten” has handed over its latest open evaluation of threats to national and international security, with high-tech terrorism now ranking as high as traditional military threats. Radical Islamists and right-wing extremists continue to pose major threats as well.

Lt Gen Kjell Grandhagen handed over his military intelligence unit's latest open threat evaluation to Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide. In the center, the head of Norway's armed forces, General Harald Sunde. PHOTO: Forsvaret / Torbjørn Kjosvold

It was the second year in a row that de-classified intelligence evaluations were published and released, via Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide. He claimed he was keen to release as much information as possible about defense operations and threat evaluations, on which to base foreign, security and defense policies.

Eide noted how Norway and the rest of the world face much more complicated security challenges than ever before. Newspaper Aftenposten reported Tuesday that Eide, drawing from E-tjenesten evaluations, views the threat of high-tech attacks targeting Norwegian power plants, telecommunications and the country’s financial system as seriously as he views military threats.

E-tjenesten’s evaluation offers an orientation of how it views developments around the world, not least in Afghanistan, Russia and China. Lt Gen Kjell Grandhagen, chief of the military intelligence unit, also believes that “threats in the digital room,” also known as cyber threats, now pose the greatest danger to Norwegian society. The greatest traditional danger for terrorism stems from radical Islamists including those who live in Norway.

Developments in Russia and China are being watched closely as well. Eide doesn’t believe they pose any threat to Norway today, but huge investments in military might, especially by China, are cause for concern, as are possible conflicts over natural resources in the Arctic.

“We are seeing concentration of power in Russia, and authoritarian tendencies,” Eide told Aftenposten. “But if we had to choose between a Russia that’s chaotic, like it was some years ago, and a well-organized country like it’s becoming today, I’d choose the latter.”

China, meanwhile, is already in conflict with other countries in the South China Sea, according to the E-tjenesten report entitled Fokus 2012. The report predicts more demonstrations of power by China, in line with its economic and commercial interests, also in the Arctic.

Grandhagen also said his staff was asked specifically to follow the growth of right-wing extremist organizations in Europe, following last summer’s terrorist attacks in Norway. “So far we have no registration” of such growth, he said, but noted that E-tjenesten is keeping a closer eye on foreign companies that produce, sell or distribute ingredients that can be used in explosives.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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