Cops on the beat and military personnel in uniform are the new targets of the latest terror threat to hit Norway, according to a new analysis of the threat situation in the country. “This time the threat isn’t directed at the general population, but against us in the police and defense forces,” Norway’s state director of the police, Odd Reidar Humlegård, said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference after Norway’s police intelligence agency PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) had raised the security threat in Norway, Humlegård stressed there was “a relevant difference” between the threat of a terrorist attack now and the one that swept over Norway last summer. It led to vastly heightened levels of armed police on the streets and at all major public events.
“The threat is now directed at groups within the defense forces and the police,” Humlegård said. He said several measures were being evaluated to deal with the new threat level, and that both the police and the military must be prepared that they may need to be in place and functioning over a lengthy period.
“We don’t think this threat situation is going to fade away any time soon,” Humlegård said. “The measures we’re considering must take that into consideration, and they must work over possibly months or years.”
It was in a video released by the brutal extremist group IS that its leaders urged followers or sympathizers in western countries to attack police and military in western countries. PST now thinks a terrorist attack is likely in Norway, which is contributing to the fight against IS, within the next 12 months.
The terrorists’ tactics have changed, anti-terror experts say, from planning spectacular bombings or other mass attacks to what Humlegård called “simple, smaller attacks” that don’t take much time to plan and can be carried out by just a few people. The Islamist attack on a British military officer in the UK, who was assaulted with an axe and killed on a city street in broad daylight, is an example.
Humlegård said the new threat resembles “other situations that police must deal with in their daily work with people on drugs or alcohol, potentially dangerous psychiatric patients and violent criminals.” Humlegård said “that’s a constant threat that police are trained to handle.”
Police officials themselves will decide how to deal with the new threat of being targets of violent extremists. Norwegian police are generally unarmed, but now may carry weapons more frequently. They will also be trained to be extra alert when carrying out their duties among the public.