Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) is fearing a possible terrorist attack within days after receiving information about a threat from an unidentified source on Thursday. A foreign partner of the intelligence service of Norway informed the agency about the attack. The head of the PST, Benedicte Bjoernland, said the agency received reliable information and she declined to identify the source. According to U.S. officials, the country could see attacks from individuals with links to Islamic fighters at anytime.
The Associated Press stated that information was sent by extremists who fought in Syria. U.S. officials reported the threat was credible, but did not go any further as far as providing details. The PST does not have any information about when or how an attack would take place. Bjoernland added that the terror threat was vague about the target. Last month, according to the intelligence service, 50 people traveled to Syria from the Scandinavian country to fight in the civil war. Half of them have now returned to Norway.
In a news conference, Bjoernland hoped the terror threat could be avoided by going public. She did admit, however, that given the lack of specifics it is hard to give advice to citizens on how to act in this situation. The PST has not excluded the possibility that people involved with the terrorist threat were already in the country.
Law enforcement will be increased and more visible at train stations, ports, airports, major intersections and border crossings, according to Vidar Refvik, the National Police chief. Fearing the possible terrorist attack within days, the police officer from Norway reiterated the threat was not specific with respect to a target. The PST said in April the threat comes from Muslim extremists in and around the Norwegian capital Oslo.
It has not been made certain whether this case was linked to the arrest in May of three Norwegian citizens accused of supporting and participating in a terror organization purported to be an al-Qaeda splinter group. The United States put a Muslim-converted Norwegian, Anders Cameroon Ostensvig Dale, on a terrorism blacklist. In 2013, one of the gunmen involved in the shopping mall assault in Kenya’s capital Nairobi was also born in the Scandinavian country.
Muslim extremists have long been threatening Norway. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda leader, mentioned the country in a recording release in 2003. He encouraged Islamic fanatics to attack embassies and corporations in the United States, Australia, Norway and Great Britain. This was a tactic used which precipitated events of 9/11.
Between 2004 and 2006, the police of Norway arrested the former leader of a militant group from Iraq. Norwegian and Danish embassies were subsequently the target of protests in Damascus, Syria. Threats from Islamic extremists are still the most menacing form of terrorism the country faces according to a statement from Norway’s Police Security Service on Thursday. The PST chief reported this has been a strategy to recruit people to fight in war and conflict zones. The leading arena for this recruitment, at the time, is Syria.
Norwegian police announced that threats come in each year. Most of them are not disclosed to the public but, according to PST statement, informing openly “is the right thing to do” in the current situation. The possible terror threat reported as only days away has aroused fear in Norway because the country is still recovering from the terrorist attack back in 2011. At a political youth camp, Anders Behring Breivik, a right-wing extremist with an animosity toward Muslims, killed 69 people in a shooting spree. He also killed eight others in a bombing of Norwegian government headquarters in Oslo.
By Murillo Moret