Military boosts terror preparedness

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Military bases all over Norway boosted their anti-terror security measures at the end of the week, based on what defense officials call a new  “general threat evaluation.” They insisted there was nothing “dramatic” behind the higher security levels, while Norwegian media reported it was based on tips that weren’t shared with the police.

Military officials refused to reveal why they felt it necessary to boost terror preparedness at military installations from the Royal Guards camp in Oslo to bases in the far north. Several Norwegian newspapers reported Friday morning that Norwegian police weren’t informed in advance of the move to increase anti-terror measures, and police officials were clearly annoyed.

‘Must speak with one another’
“We think it’s strange that we aren’t aware of the evaluation that lies behind the military’s upgrading of terror preparedness,” Johan Fredriksen, staff chief of the Oslo Police, told newspaper VG. He later confirmed his surprise to newspaper Aftenposten and said that the state police directorate would have to address the apparent lack of communication.

“They have a liaison in the military and vice-versa,” Fredriksen told Aftenposten. “It’s in the cards that we must speak with one another.”

Military officials said they may need to “go through their routines” after the criticism from the police that the new terror evaluation wasn’t shared. They did their best, though, to downplay the actual threat, stressing that it wasn’t “dramatic” and that casual observers wouldn’t detect much if any visual changes at military bases.

“There’s a general threat evaluation now and the military has responded with the plans we have,” military spokesman Lt Col Bent-Ivan Myhre told newspaper Aftenposten. “We evaluate constantly whether it will be set aside, but nothing indicates any quick changes now.”

Tip from NATO
Newspaper VG linked the higher terror alert to fears of attack from terror cells. Newspaper Dagbladet reported that the higher terror alert resulted from an intelligence tip from NATO that military bases either in Norway or the Netherlands were probable targets.

Dagbladet reported that Norwegian defense forces were warned about a week ago that terrorists could launch an attack. The information reportedly was systematically reviewed by the Norwegian military’s own intelligence unit, E-tjenesten.

The result was to raise anti-terror measures to so-called level A (Alpha) at all military installations in the country, which include more stringent monitoring of access to the bases, review of defense plans and generally higher levels of awareness. Level A is the lowest of four levels of increased terror alerts.

Stoltenberg informed
While police weren’t informed of the higher terror preparedness, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was, and a meeting of a government’s security commission was held Thursday night in Stoltenberg’s office with the defense minister present. Stoltenberg was being kept informed on an ongoing basis, according to his staff.

The police intelligence unit PST hasn’t changed its own terror evaluation for Norway. A PST spokesman said there was no information linking the perceived need for higher military base security with a terror alarm that hit Norwegian airports around Oslo last fall.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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