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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Jailed engineer fought with US in Iraq

An Iraqi-Norwegian engineer now in custody on terror-related charges fled Iraq and came to Norway in 1998 but traveled back to his homeland in 2003 to fight with US forces against Saddam Hussein. Newspaper Aftenposten reported more details about the terror suspect’s background following his custody hearing on Tuesday.

Aftenposten reported that the 48-year-old engineer, who was ordered held in remand custody for at least the next four weeks, returned to Norway after cooperating with US forces in Iraq and later became disillusioned with the US invasion of Iraq. He eventually secured a job at Aker Solutions and also was said to be politically active at the local government level in Oslo on behalf of the Socialist Left party (SV), although the party described his role as “peripheral” prior to municipal elections in 2007. He most recently has lived outside Oslo, in Buskerud County.

‘Sorry Aker Solutions was dragged into the case’
Prosecutors now say that they have “no information indicating he was trying to harm his workplace,” according to Signe Kathrine Aalling, one of the prosecuting attorneys for Norway’s police intelligence unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste). Rather, the 48-year-old man arrested Monday afternoon in his office at Aker Solutions is said to be sorry that his employer ended up playing such a major role in the case against him. It was  one of the company’s own in-house security checks that revealed what Aker Solutions deemed as violations of company regulations tied to his computer use. Aker Solutions officials then called police and he’s since been suspended from his job.

He’s charged with having spread information on the Internet that could be used to carry out terrorist acts. The nature of that information remained unclear but “he is extremely sorry that his employer Aker Solutions has been dragged into the case,” said Bjørn André Gulstad, who is defending the engineer along with high-profile defense attorney Brynjar Meling. “He has used the company’s computers during work hours, but believes himself that he hasn’t done anything for which he would be criminally liable.”

Disillusioned with US role in Iraq
Newspaper VG reported that the 48-year-old man was active on “extreme websites,” while Aftenposten reported he changed his views on the US invasion of Iraq and later became quite critical of US foreign policy.

He earlier had been a member of the Iraqi National Congress, which reportedly was an important source of intelligence for the US before its invasion of Iraq. He worked with the coalition against Saddam Hussein and Aftenposten reported he contributed to claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He reportedly served as an officer in the Free Iraqi Forces before he changed his mind about the US invasion and subsequent occupation, not necessarily on religious grounds but because he was disappointed and troubled over the result.

His defense attorney Gulstad echoed Meling’s comments on Tuesday in claiming that the defendant, who in accordance with Norwegian press practice is not being publicly identified without a conviction, “understands his situation” and wants to cooperate with police, in the hopes the case against him will be dismissed. He has not appealed the court order holding him in custody while the police investigation continues. Berglund



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