Norwegian police arrested and quickly deported around 20 Islamic extremists following the terror alarm that hit Norway in late July, reported newspaper Dagbladet on Friday. All of them were either asylum seekers or had been turned down for asylum and were staying in Norway illegally.
The highly unusual nationwide terror alarm that was issued on July 24 warned of an imminent terrorist attack in Norway, believed to be carried out by radical Islamists who were on their way to Norway. It led to an immediate increase in armed police patrols, not least at border crossings into Norway.
Seized possible accomplices
Dagbladet reported Thursday that the intelligence experts had identified four extremists believed to be heading for Norway. They were tied to the radical and brutal organization currently calling itself the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. All four were said to originally come from countries outside the Middle East, leading to fears that they could more easily slip into the country, not least since several Norwegians have joined the Islamic extremist group themselves.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Thursday night that at least two of the Norwegians involved with IS now hold high leadership positions within the group. One of the Norwegians, Bastian Vasquez from Skien in Telemark County who uses the name Abu Safiyyah, featured in one of many of IS’ propaganda videos earlier this summer in which he bragged about the groups’s executions and called non-devout Sunni Muslims “idiots.” The other alleged IS leader with a Norwegian passport is believed to be of African descent and lived in the affluent Oslo suburb of Bærum before traveling to Syria in 2012 to take part in its civil war.
PST believes more than 50 people with Norwegian passports have traveled to Syria. An estimated 10 have been killed in the fighting, while NRK reported Friday that others have been executed by IS if they try to leave the group
Dagbladet reported that Norwegian military intelligence and the police intelligence unit PST had “indications” that the four IS members allegedly on their way to Norway had one or more “helpers” already in Norway. That led to the sudden arrests in July, quickly obtained court orders for deportations and the rapid deportations themselves in late July, with Dagbladet claiming that Norwegian authorities had “combed” the country for possible terrorism accomplices.
They had help from immigration authorities who could quickly track down people who had recently applied for asylum in Norway, and those believed to have extremist leanings. They were seized, put in custody at a locked asylum center at Trandum and put on flights out of the country the next day.
It was unclear where they were sent, but Dagbladet’s source said none of them was likely to be granted asylum in Norway. “All were directly tied to Islamic extremism,” the source told Dagbladet. “Therefore their cases received express handling.”