Norwegian Islamist Ubaydullah Hussain had cut his hair and beard and opted for a checkered shirt and sweater, instead of the traditional conservative Muslim dress he’s worn for years, when he landed back in an Oslo court last week. He would no longer agree to be photographed when he pleaded “not guilty” to the latest charges against him, that he supported and has recruited people to fight for the terrorist organization ISIL.
It’s the first time a Norwegian court will need to rule on what’s needed in terms of evidence in order to convict anyone of recruiting members for an organization known to decapitate, beat, burn and bury its victims alive. Hussain and one of his alleged recruits, who was stopped from boarding a flight bound for the eastern Mediterranean last year, are both on trial in the Oslo City Court.
Hussain, age 31, faces 12 years in prison for allegedly recruiting members for ISIL and helping them obtain necessary equipment, travel arrangements and other advice. His 19-year-old co-defendant is indicted on charges to trying to join ISIL in Syria.
Hussain claimed on Friday that he no longer is involved with Profetens Ummah, the radical Islamic organization that he fronted for several years. Now, Hussain claims, he merely wants to concentrate on his family, education and dialogue with those who disagree with his views. On Monday, when his trial resumed, state broadcaster NRK reported that he claimed he was “shocked” by his indictment and stressed that he “has never said that I am a part of IS(IL).”
His alleged recruit has also denied he was recruited by Hussain, but said in court on Friday that Hussain had given him the impression that he could help him with his own desire to fight against the Assad regime in Syria. Prosecutors believe Hussain bought the teenager’s airline tickets, clothing, telephones and other equipment needed. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that prosecutors also uncovered that Hussain possessed and shared Turkish telephone numbers of alleged IS contacts that also have shown up in terror investigations in the Netherlands, Italy and Australia.
Hussain is also indicted for having recruited another Norwegian man, Thom Alexander Karlsen from Halden, who was killed fighting for IS in March 2015. The 19-year-old testified that he and Hussain brought news of Karlsen’s death to his two sisters during a meeting at Oslo’s central train station just days after Karlsen was killed, and could show the sisters a photo of their dead brother. Prosecutors, reported Aftenposten, are likely to claim that Hussain must have had good contacts within IS in order to get such a photo and information so quickly, before the death was reported in local media. The trial was continuing this week.