High court upholds Islamist’s jail term

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Norway’s highest court (Høyesterett) has sentenced Islamic extremist Ubaydullah Hussain to nine years in prison for taking part in the brutal terrorist organization IS. That upholds both an appeals- and city court’s sentence and formally puts his conviction into force.

The high court’s ruling against Ubaydullah Hussain, who changed his appearance when he tried to defend himself in court, is viewed as setting an important precedent for a wide interpretation of Norway’s new anti-terror law. PHOTO: Facebook.com

“This marks the final outcome of the case,” Hussain’s lead defense attorney, John Christian Elden, conceded to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Tuesday evening, after the high court’s ruling was handed down. Elden said his client, who has consistently denied taking part in IS, was “disappointed.”

The high court believes Hussain did indeed support and participate in IS from late-2013 and early 2014 until December 2015. He was convicted once again of also recruiting two members to IS and for having provided economic support and equipment to two other IS members.

Hussain, former spokesman for a radical Islamic group Profetens Ummah, has been in and out of jail and courtrooms for several years. His sentence to nine years in prison was first issued by the Oslo City Court in the spring of 2017 and was considered “historic,” because it was the first to address illegal participation in a terrorist organization.

Wanted to ‘crush’ City Hall
In a remarkable documentary produced by state broadcaster NRK and aired just after that conviction, Hussain had claimed that he dreamed of the day when Muslim prayers would stream out of the towers at Oslo’s City Hall. He also wanted to destroy all the statues around the building.

Hussain, age 32, has also been charged with sending threats and hate messages to politicians, journalists, researchers, and author and the local Jewish community.  He’s been serving jail time at a prison in Northern Norway.

The country’s highest court noted in its ruling that it wants a “wide interpretation” of the definition of a participant in terrorist organization. Elden believes that’s become too wide, but must accept the high court’s decision.

“We accept it, but believe the conviction is debatable from the perspective of freedom of expression,” Elden told NRK. His client still believes that statements he’s made are within the bounds of freedom of expression.

‘Threat … to our values’
Norway’s highest court also refereed to IS as “one of the worst terrorist organizations of our time.” It maintains that “these types of organizations represent a major threat to the security of society and our democratic values.”

Prosecutor Frederik G Ranke tld NRK he thinks the high court’s final determination in the case is correct, and important.

“We are extremely satisfied with the outcome of this case, and that the high court has followed the prosecuting authority’s judicial reasoning so closely,” Ranke said. He thinks it sets an important precedent regarding Norway’s legal definition of participation in a terrorist organization, recruitment efforts and material support, without Hussain actually having been present in Syria with IS. The nine-year jail term is also viewed as long, by Norwegian standards.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund