On Tuesday Norway’s Police Security Service (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste, PST) released its terror threat assessment for 2014, warning the greatest danger comes from home-grown Islamist groups. PST then took the unusual step of releasing a related assessment, warning of the danger posed by provocative extreme right groups which seek to heighten conflicts.
PST warned unrest and confrontation between militant Muslim groups and extremist right wing organizations could lead to violence and retaliatory actions, reported newspaper Dagsavisen.
“It could well be that this is something they should have written about earlier,” said Police Academy (Politihøgskolen) terror expert, Professor Tore Bjørgo. “I am not convinced that there’s a significant change in the extreme right environment, but PST is now helping to sharpen vigilance again the polarization which we’ve seen tendencies towards in other countries, where terror attacks against an opponant trigger retaliatory actions and dangerous situations.”
Bjørgo cited the case of Dutch director Theo van Gogh, who was killed in 2004 after making a short film about Muslim women who were abused and oppressed in the name of religion. The incident triggered a wave of reactionary attacks in the Netherlands, where dozens of mosques and churches were torched.
Bjørgo, who was also an expert witness during Anders Behring Breivik’s trial, said the worst impact of terrorism is often not the attack itself but the response. “Such harmful reactions are something terrorists try to provoke,” he explained. “In Breivik’s manifest it showed he considered the possibility of killing Muslim women and children during the festivities celebrating the end of Ramadan. He considered that would cause such a violent reaction from Muslim men that they would start violence which in turn would create extreme right radicalization among Norwegians.”