A 24-year-old man from Skien who’s been in custody since his arrest on terror charges in 2019 has now been indicted and faces trial next month. He’s accused of urging others in a chat group to “burn homes and buildings” in Denmark and London, where police managed to avert an attack.
He’s been indicted on three specific counts of contributing to terrorist acts and for taking part in the terrorist organization ISIL.
He claims innocence, while prosecutors contend he was involved in planning attacks that would be carried out by others. Police refer in the indictment to chat logs where he urges them to “take everyone you can … at least 20 or more,” and that it’s “better to die” than to live as someone who’s “humiliated” by “dirty” non-believers.
He has also allegedly shared instructions for making explosives, been active on several digital platforms and wrote about how a film would be produced and spread to get “brothers” to travel to Denmark to carry out jihad.
‘Relatively central player’
“We believe this is the new way of taking part in ISIL,” state prosecutor Geir Evanger, who recently prosecuted the case against a Norwegian ISIL wife, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Monday. “It’s about sharing extremist material, violent material and material with religious content.”
Police also believe he has spread propaganda for ISIL and material produced by ISIL. “We view him as a relatively central player in many of these (online) groups and that, under Norwegian law, qualifies as participation in a terrorist organization.”
Prosecutors call the charges against the young Norwegian man “very serious.” Acquaintances have told police that he “changed” and became more religious after a visit to an unidentified country in Africa. If convicted, he faces up to 21 years in prison.
Just ‘loose chat’
His defense attorney Brynjar Meling, best known for also defending terror suspect Mullah Krekar, stresses that his client denies any criminal liability.
Meling describes all the chat texts gathered by police as simply “loose chat” that wasn’t serious. “He has clarified all this in detail during police hearings, and he’ll probably do that in court, too,” Meling told NRK.
He said he client has never denied being a “conservative Muslim” or that he’s sought out groups of other conservative Muslims on the Internet. His trial is due to begin in May.