Norway’s police intelligence unit PST lowered the threat level for a terrorist attack by ISIL supporters in its latest evaluation of the country’s security situation. The official characterization declined from “probable” to “possible,” while concerns about right-wing extremist attacks are the “most clear” now.
PST chief Benedicte Bjørnland stressed that the threat of an ISIL attack remains real and added that many western countries have repeatedly been threatened. Attacks and attempted attacks tied to the Islamic extremist group have “often come from people who don’t have experience as foreign fighters, but who still identify with and support ISIL,” according to PST.
Bjørnland also reported that 18 people tied to Norwegian extremist groups probably have been killed in Syria, while nine are in police custody and charged with terror-related crimes. PST believes this means the extremist milieu in Norway has been somewhat weakened, but that it’s still “possible” an attack will be attempted “against targets in Norway.”
Norwegian police and military have been on alert, with police allowed to carry weapons, since PST first characterized a terrorist attack as “probable” in Norway in the summer of last year. Officers in uniform were especially seen as likely targets of an attack following deadly assaults in, for example, Canada and the UK.
Now Bjørnland says civilians are at lower risk but PST remains worried about the right-wing extremist milieu. She said PST has several people under surveillance who can have the “intention and capacity” to carry out an attack, but PST lacked intelligence indicating any specific plans at present.
“The concerns we see the most clearly now are developments in the right-wing extremist milieu,” she said.
The danger is not over, Bjørnland said, either from Islamic or right-wing extremists, “and the threat picture can change in the short term,” she told reporters at a press conference Thursday afternoon.