PST: Terrorist group has left Syria

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A group has left Syria with the aim of targeting Norway in a terror attack, the police intelligence unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) revealed on Friday. Police are piecing together more information about what they’re calling a credible but unspecified terror threat expected against Norway in the coming days.

Authorities announced on Thursday they had intelligence an attack was coming, but did not know exactly what would be targeted, where, when or by whom. They suspected radical Islamists with links to terrorist groups in Syria were involved. By Friday morning, police decided to reveal more details about the potential perpetrators.

“We received information that a group of people have traveled from Syria with the goal of carrying out a terror attack in the West, and Norway is specifically named,” PST strategic analysis chief Jon Fitje Hoffmann told broadcaster TV2. “That was the starting point for the situation we are in now.”

PST was aware the group was on the move on Thursday, but chose not to reveal the information straight away. “We have done what we can to clarify and verify this information,” Hoffman said. “The work so far has led us to believe the credibility of this information is strengthened.”

He said it was unclear where the group was currently, but it was unlikely police would reveal that information if they had it.

Hoffmann did not say whether the information about the group had come from Norway’s own intelligence services, or from one of the 60 countries Norway cooperates and exchanges information with. “This is a very special situation which the entire PST has worked on together with our cooperating partners,” Hoffman said. “Many are involved in the assessments and actions taken on the basis of that.”

Police still believed the threat was limited in its duration, but gave no further details about the time frame. “The information we have about the time limit is not secure fact,” Hoffman said. “It can change. This threat has no completely clear expiration date, but we nevertheless believe the threat window will not be long-lasting.”

“That we’re talking about something which may happen in a few days makes the situation extra difficult,” he elaborated to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “That helped to set the terms for how it was handled.” It was a very unusual step by authorities to raise the alarm over the threat so publicly.

Police said they would decide on Friday whether to implement further security measures on top of the steps already taken. “We will have a conference call with all police chiefs, get in situation reports, and look at whether we will make further efforts,” Police Director Odd Reidar Humlegård told TV2.

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate