A 22-year-old man from eastern Norway was arrested over crimes allegedly committed in Syria including terrorism and murder, after he returned to Oslo last Friday. It’s the first time the Norwegian Police Security Service (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste, PST) has charged a national with terrorism in war-torn Syria.
The Norwegian citizen is a Muslim of ethnic Pakistani background, reported newspaper Dagbladet. He returned home after being shot in the leg, and is recovering in an Oslo hospital with serious injuries. He has no criminal record in Norway and was not listed among the country’s most dangerous and active Islamists last year. However, the PST had been monitoring the man before he went to Syria last September to take part in combat.
“I can confirm we have charged a person who has returned to Norway after having been in Syria,” said PST communications chief Martin Bernsen, and refused to comment further. Dagbladet said the man had been involved in military actions with the extremist Islamist organizations Jabath al Nusret and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Middle East. Both groups are on the United Nations’ terrorist organizations list.
His alleged crimes include murder and serious acts of violence against Syrian government forces, and other people the terrorist groups view as infidels. “Our client is unable to understand the charges and denies guilt,” said lawyer John Christian Elden, one of the attorneys representing the man. He said the PST had been creative with its application of the law. “At the same time, I note the PST believes Syria’s government is the aggrieved party. It means the PST also likens the US and Norwegian governments to terrorists. Both the Americans and Norwegian government are fighting against the Syrian regime.”
Both Jabath al Nusret and ISIL had been linked to al-Qaeda, but this month the network denied there is any ongoing organizational relationship with ISIL. Al-Qaeda criticized ISIL’s actions in Syria, including for fighting against other Islamist groups close to al-Qaeda like Jabath al Nusret.
Dagbladet said its sources estimate about 70 people with Norwegian associations have joined the fighting in Syria.