UPDATED: Norwegian state prosecutors launched a new case this week against Islamic extremist Ubaydullah Hussain, claiming he has committed criminal acts by inciting terror and murder. Hussain was back in court on Tuesday, to answer for four provocative messages he posted on social media last year.
Among the messages was one hailing the murders of 23 hostages when Islamic terrorists stormed a gas plant in Algeria that is partly operated by Norwegian state oil company Statoil. Five Statoil employees were among those killed.
Hussain also praised the bomb attack on the Boston Marathon, the brutal murder in broad daylight of British soldier Lee Rigby on a London street, and the terrorist attack on a shopping center in Nairobi. A Norwegian Islamic terrorist is believed to have been killed while carrying out the attack in Kenya.
After the Rigby murder, Hussain wrote on his Facebook profile: “Good news from England. A terrorist pig from the British military (has been) slaughtered by our brave brothers while they yelled Allahu Akbar. May Allah … accept their acts and intentions, and humiliate enemies of Islam in the worst possible way.”
Hussain pleaded innocent to the new charges, on the grounds of freedom of expression, but repeatedly answered “no comment” to direct questions posed by state prosecutor Carl Fredrik Fari. Hussain claimed he only needs to answer to Allah.
“I view these charges as an attempt by (police intelligence unit) PST and the (Norwegian) authorities to stop my religious and political activities,” Hussain said in court. “I view this as a religious persecution of me as a person.” He added that he was “only loyal to Allah” and that he doesn’t recognize “your man-made laws.”
His defense attorney, John Christian Elden, had earlier told news bureau NTB that “Ubaydullah Hussain defends how he has expressed himself and denies (the messages) are liable to criminal punishment.” Lars Gule, a terror expert who followed the court proceedings, told newspaper Dagsavisen he thought it was “sad” that Hussain managed to avoid answering for his extremist messages. “I would have gladly heard his own words abut how he can account for his activities,” Gule told Dagsavisen. He found Hussain’s and Elden’s legal strategy “interesting,” noting that it makes the prosecutor’s job difficult.
Hussain, who was reared in Norway and once refereed football matches, was charged in July and faces prison if found guilty. Prosecutor Fari is leading the latest case against Hussain, claiming it is a criminal offense in Norway to encourage anyone to carry out terrorist acts.
“The challenge in this case is that there are quite strong conditions for what can be seen as incitement to terrorism,” Fari told NTB. “It will be a central point in the case that incitement must be interpreted in accordance with (guarantees for) freedom of expression.”
Hussain was convicted of making threats against journalists, Jews and homosexuals in February. “We believe that by hailing terrorism he’s also inciting new terrorist acts,” Fari told state broadcaster NRK.
Hussain, age 29, is the self-proclaimed spokesman for the extremist group Profetens Ummah. At the end of August, thousands of Norwegians took to the streets to demonstrate against Islamic extremists and specifically Hussain and his group, which is believed to include only a few dozen members. The demonstration was prompted by Hussain’s defense of the Islamic extremist group IS and the executions it’s been carrying out in Iraq. All of Oslo’s imams, other clerical leaders, top politicians and representatives of Norway’s Islamic Council took part in the demonstration and distanced themselves from Hussain and his group.