Norwegian police intelligence unit PST was holding two more Norwegian citizens in custody on Tuesday, accused of having supported a terrorist organization. Both of the suspects had recently returned to Norway from Syria.
One of the men, age 45, reportedly is the father of a 24-year-old Norwegian who was arrested last December after he’d also returned, wounded, from Syria. His trial on charges of supporting a terrorist organization is due to begin next week.
PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) confirmed the arrests of the two men, with Siv Alsén of PST saying that “one of them is in his 20s, the other in his 40s,” but she would reveal few details. They are both charged under Paragraph 147d of Norway’s criminal code, which makes it an offense “to establish, participate in, recruit members to or give economic or other material support to a terrorist organization.” The men, like the others arrested before them, face up to six years in prison if convicted.
Ties to Fredrikstad extremists
The two suspects were arrested at separate locations in southeastern Norway and PST said it received assistance from “several” police districts. PST believes the two suspects have taken part in or otherwise support the brutal Islamic extremist organzation IS, which is considered a terrorist organization.
Newspaper VG reported that the 45-year-old is the father of the young man arrested at his home in Greåker, between Fredrikstad and Sarpsborg, in December. Several other terror suspects in Norway have also been part of an Islamic extremist milieu in the Fredrikstad area.
Once again, the high-profile Norwegian defense attorney John Christian Elden has been called upon to represent an Islamic extremist, this time the 45-year-old. Elden told newspaper Aftenposten Monday night, however, that he still hadn’t had a chance to speak with his new client.
‘Quiet and peaceful’ with record of convictions
Neighbours of the 45-year-old and his 24-year-old son told Aftenposten that they ran an exercise studio in Fredrikstad that specialized in martial arts. The entire family lived at the same address and they were described as “quiet and peaceful” people who had little contact with other residents of the area. The father, however, has been convicted several times for violence, making threats and for violation of narcotics laws. He was sentenced to prison for 10 years in 1994 in connection with the murder of a kiosk owner in Ås in 1993.
It was well-known that his son was part of the Islamic milieu in Fredrikstad from which several young men have traveled to Syria. The father, however, was not known as being a radical Islamist.
PST has said that at least 70 people are known to have traveled from Norway to Syria to fight with IS, but the number may be much higher. Around 15 of them have been killed and around 30 have returned to Norway. Police last week arrested an 18-year-old who was believed to be on his way to Syria to fight with IS, and he remains in custody as well.