UPDATED: A 51-year-old Iraqi-Norwegian engineer has pleaded “not guilty” to charges that he offered assistance to terror group IS, by suggesting how prisoners could be tortured and killed. He’s also charged with sharing instructions for making bombs in an online forum for jihadists, but claims he was only trying to infiltrate and then fight the terror groups internally.
“I am innocent,” the defendant said in court. “I wanted to be invited in by the leaders of IS. Then I could go join them … I wanted to be a cancer cell in their bodies, that in the end would slowly kill the whole body.” He testified that he especially wanted to contribute to creating a secular Iraq.
The engineer was arrested at work at Aker Solutions in Bærum in 2015, after investigators determined he had been active in the jihadists’ forum and in encouraging IS online, both from his home in Lierskogen and while at work at Aker Solutions’ offices at Fornebu. Aker officials themselves had alerted police to the man’s online activity through company computer systems.
The case against the 51-year-old, who is not being identified in line with Norwegian press practice, is the first in Norway in which a defendant is indicted for instructing how to carry out terrorist acts. His trial got underway Thursday at the local court for Asker og Bærum.
Advice on execution techniques
Prosecutor Frederik G Ranke told news bureau NTB that the man, who came to Norway as a refugee from Iraq in 1998, in particular advised IS on what its members could do with a Jordanian pilot who had been shot down over Syria and taken prisoner. Ranke said IS had asked its sympathizers to make suggestions how they could do away with the pilot. The defendant allegedly suggested a horrific execution technique. The pilot was later burned alive.
Norwegian authorities claim the defendant also allegedly advised IS on how they should attack and threaten helicopter pilots who served the Assad regime in Syria, while also offering instructions on bomb-making.
The defendant, who was released from police custody a month after his arrest, denies all the charges against him. His defense attorney Brynjar Meling claims that nothing the 51-year-old wrote on the Internet is punishable by law: “He expressed himself about a regime (in Syria) that Norwegian authorities and NATO have also criticized. It would be strange if it was a punishable offense to appeal to folks who are agitators against a regime that carries out attacks on humanity.”
Meling also told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Thursday that his client only wrote on the forum because he wanted to infiltrate the terror group. “He is a strong opponent of IS,” Meling said, promising that it wouldn’t be “a radical Muslim meeting up in court.”
Ranke said he strongly doubted that the defendant was keen to infiltrate IS, but would otherwise reserve comment.
The defendant was released from custody about a month after his arrest, after police determined there no longer was any threat he could tamper with evidence of his online activity.