A 24-year-old man from the small town of Greåker in southern Norway has admitted in court this week that he posed with weapons, had contact with an extremist Islamic group, performed duties as an armed guard on the border between Syria and Turkey, had contact with members of the brutal terrorist group IS and traveled with a friend who fought for IS and was later killed in a bombing attack.
The 24-year-old still denies the charges against him, though, that he took part in planning terrorist acts and supported IS. He claims he was merely carrying out humanitarian work in Syria. Prosecutors contend he took part in armed combat for IS from September 2013 until he was shot in the foot and returned wounded to Norway last year.
He only published photos of himself on the social media site Facebook because he had a need to portray himself as tough, his defense attorney said in court on Wednesday. “But he regrets that now, when he sees how it’s been interpreted,” attorney Thomas Randby said.
The young defendant also admitted in court that he took contact with a Norwegian convert to Islam who allegedly fought for IS in 2013. “I wanted to see how he was doing, it’s natural to ask friends what they’re up to,” he testified. “I said I could help provide clothing, money and shoes, but that wasn’t support for terrorism.”
He also said that while in Syria, he worked in an ambulance to transport medicine, blankets and the wounded. He said he hadn’t earlier told police about his work as an armed border guard “because I was afraid it could be considered an act of war. That’s why I opted to leave that out under questioning.”
His trial started this week in the Oslo City Court. Prosecutors claim he was planning to return to Syria when he was arrested and charged in December.