Military also sees rising threat level

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Norway’s military intelligence agency (E-tjenesten) confirmed on Thursday that it also sees a rising threat of terror against Norway. While Islamic extremists pose the biggest threat, E-tjenesten is also following Russia with “greater concern” than earlier.

General Lt Kjell Grandhagen presented the military intelligence agency's annual evaluation of threats against Norway. PHOTO: Torbjørn Kjosvold/Forsvarets mediesenter

General Lt Kjell Grandhagen presented the military intelligence agency’s annual evaluation of threats against Norway. PHOTO: Torbjørn Kjosvold/Forsvarets mediesenter

General Lt Kjell Grandhagen handed over the agency’s annual threat evaluation report to Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide just a week after the civilian police intelligence PST released its own evaluation. Both agencies single out radical Islamic terrorists as the most likely to attack Norwegian interests, but Russia’s recent aggression in Ukraine and its military build-up worry Norwegian officials as well.

“We have been able to document Russian presence in Ukraine,” Grandhagen said at a press briefing Thursday, with E-tjenesten seeing “a new form of hybrid warfare” in the area. “Russia has demonstrated a new ability and willingness to quickly move and concentrate large military forces,” Grandhagen said.

He called Russia “an unpredictable country” under the firm grip of President Vladimir Putin. “It’s a different Russia than what we saw a few years ago,” Grandhagen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “It’s a Russia that daily displays a willingness to use military power.”

He stressed that E-tjenesten doesn’t view Russia, which shares a border with Norway in the far north, as a direct threat but he told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that “we see a neighbouring country that in the long term represents greater unpredictability and uncertainty. It’s not a threat today, but an unpredictable country in the longer term.”

Grandhagen also stressed that the threat of militant Islamists remains the main concern, “a result of people with ties to Norway traveling to conflict zones and having contact with militant Islamic groups.” Grandhagen also cited Norway’s contribution to the international US-led coalition to fight the particularly brutal Islamic group IS/ISIL, since that can prompt IS/ISIL to retaliate.

“Militant Islamic groups still pose the greatest threat to Norway,” Grandhagen said. “I point to developments in the Middle East and North Africa, where militant groups have taken control over large areas, which has fundamentally changed the terror threat towards western countries.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund