Norway’s military intelligence service (Etterretningstjenesten, or E-tjenesten) has repeated earlier predictions that the threat of a terrorist attack continues to rise, also with the return of young Norwegian radicals who’ve joined the fighting in Syria. The intelligence agents also are keenly interested in Russia, and how it will ultimately react to the weekend ouster of Ukraine’s president.
Kjell Grandhagen, the top military officer in charge of E-tjenesten, presented its latest report (external link) to Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide on Monday. It confirmed earlier reports, also from the national police intelligence unit PST, that the threat of terror against Norway and Norwegian interests abroad will increase this year as well.
The civil war in Syria is a main reason, since it’s attracted radical Islamists including around 40-50 from Norway. Many have been fighting with Al-Qaeda-led groups and become even more radicalized. One was arrested when he returned to Norway earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian intelligence gatherers believe Russia will have boosted its defense spending by as much as 75 percent from 2011 to 2016, and likely will mobilize in the Arctic. “Russian operations in the northern areas are increasing,” Grandhagen said, but stressed that there’s limited potential for conflict.
It will be “interesting,” the Norwegians noted, to see how Russia deals with the new government in Ukraine. Russia’s foreign minister came out hard against the opposition forces that led to the ouster of Ukraine’s Russia-friendly president over the weekend, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev indicated he wasn’t at all impressed with the new government being formed by what he called “masked men.” Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, agreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Ukraine’s “territorial integrity” must be maintained.