Viewing cable 08OSLO154
Title: NORWAY: GROWING AWARENESS OF TERRORISM THREAT

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08OSLO1542008-03-14 14:43:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Oslo
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RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 3264
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COPENHAGEN PASS TO LEGATT, DEPT TO S/CT 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2018 
TAGS: ASEC KTER PGOV PREL ABLD NO
SUBJECT: NORWAY: GROWING AWARENESS OF TERRORISM THREAT 
 
Classified By: Charge Kevin M. Johnson for reasons 1.4 b and d 
 
¶1. (C)      Summary: In a significant shift we have long 
advocated, the GON has strengthened its counter terrorism 
awareness, capabilities and planning.  This includes a 
revised law on terrorism, an increased threat perception, 
arrests of terrorist financiers and new physical and 
electronic security measures.  Norway,s first terrorist 
trial begins soon and its success or failure will be key to 
Norway,s counter terrorism policies.  Norway still lags 
behinds its neighbors in awareness and preparedness for 
terror incidents but we will use this momentum to fight 
prevailing opinion that "it couldn't happen here." End Summary 
 
Legal Reforms 
--------------- 
¶2. (C) The first significant step taken on counterterrorism 
this year was the passage of a revised law dealing with 
punishment for terrorist acts.  The original 2005 law needed 
updating to bring it more into line with UN and other 
international standards and the Ministry of Justice began 
work on a revised version in early 2007.  During the summer 
of 2007 relevant Washington agencies provided comments and 
questions regarding potential weaknesses in the law to 
Norwegian authorities.  The revised law, passed by Parliament 
February 28, clarifies the legal mechanisms Norwegian 
authorities have at their disposal to prosecute terrorist 
acts.  Opinion is divided on how much the changes strengthen 
the counter terrorism legal regime and will remain so until 
tested in the courts. Note: An analysis by post,s Legatt 
(resident in Copenhagen) concluded that Norway,s revised 
laws would have been sufficient to arrest similar suspects as 
those arrested in Copenhagen for planning a terrorist attack. 
End Note 
 
¶3. (C) Proposed revisions to the foreigners law (to be 
reviewed this spring) will also provide additional legal 
tools, such as house arrest and increased surveillance to 
deal with asylum seekers and other immigrants deemed threats 
to Norwegian security.  The need for these changes was 
starkly demonstrated by the case of Mullah Krekar, the 
suspected leader of Ansar-al-Islam who has lived in Norway 
for years.  Krekar was declared a threat to Norwegian society 
and ordered deported from Norway in 2007 but remains in 
Norway because human rights concerns over the death penalty 
prevent his deportation to Iraq. 
 
Threat Evaluation 
------------------- 
¶4. (C) The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) has 
primary responsibility for domestic counter terrorism 
actions.  Every year PST releases a threat evaluation which 
analyzes developments in the Norwegian domestic security 
situation.  For the first time, the 2008 threat evaluation 
acknowledged that politically motivated violence inspired by 
extreme Islam represents a threat to Norway.  The report also 
stressed the growing danger of radicalization of Norwegian 
Muslim youth.  Although the report stressed that the main 
threat of terrorist action was directed outside Norway, the 
report was a significant step in increasing public awareness 
of the threat.  The report highlighted financial support of 
suspected foreign terrorist groups as the most common 
problem. 
 
Financing Terror 
------------------- 
¶5. (C) Events quickly provided evidence that the PST 
evaluation was correct.  In February, the media reported that 
two of the three Algerians arrested in 2005 by Italian 
police, and recently sentenced for planning a terror attack, 
had Al-Qaeda links and had lived in Oslo from 2004 up until 
their arrest in 2005.  When they were arrested they were 
headed back to their safe-house in Oslo, apparently unaware 
that PST had been monitoring their activities.  Although this 
group was thwarted, the case demonstrated how easy it would 
be for a terror group to use Norway as a fund raising and 
safe base. 
 
¶6. (C) Again proving their threat evaluation accurate, the 
PST on March 1 announced the arrest of three 
Somali-Norwegians for terror financing.  The three were 
arrested for sending money to the Somali Al-Shabaab group. 
Two of the three were soon released but remain under a travel 
ban.  The third remains in custody.  PST announced that these 
three had transferred 9 million dollars to an account in 
Dubai.  This action caused much unrest among the Somali 
community in Norway and led to a public debate with some 
claiming that Al-Shabaab is a resistance movement, not a 
terrorist organization.  In an uncharacteristically strong 
reply, PST stated that any group which uses terror tactics 
against civilians will be considered a terrorist group and 
sending money to that group will be considered a crime. 
 
¶7. (C) These arrests highlight the continuing problem with 
hawala-type money transfers in Norway.  Norwegian officials 
have investigated nine hawala systems since 1999, run by 
Iraqis and Somalis, and found that these had transferred over 
100 million dollars out of the country in that time.  There 
is growing discussion of hawala transactions in Parliament 
and in the banking sector with many calling for the system to 
be legalized, and thus regulated. 
 
Combating Terror 
-------------------- 
¶8. (C) Growing awareness of a terror threat is not limited to 
security officials.  City officials have agreed (after direct 
intervention of police and the Prime Minister,s office) to 
close at least one street in the government quarter, 
particularly around the Prime Minister,s office.  (Note: 
Sensitivity to security by the City Council did not however 
extend to allowing the NEC permit process to move forward, 
but does open the door to closing streets around the current 
Embassy location, if needed.  End Note) 
 
¶9. (C) Norway is also now considering implementing a system 
which will require communication companies to store 
information on email addresses and phone conversations for 
potential use in criminal trials.  Both these steps are very 
unusual in privacy conscious Norwegian society and 
demonstrate a growing awareness of the need to take security 
seriously, even in ) what Norwegians consider - peaceful 
Norway. 
 
¶10. (C) Perhaps the most significant development in the next 
few months will be the Bhatti trial, to be held this spring. 
Arfan Bhatti, a Pakistani Norwegian, remains the only 
individual in custody after the September 2006 arrest of four 
individuals suspected of shooting an Oslo synagogue and 
planning attacks on the U.S. and Israeli embassies. 
Bhatti,s trial will be the true test of the legal system,s 
ability to handle a terrorism case as it is Norway's first 
terrorism case.  Failure to successfully prosecute Bhatti 
could lead to reluctance to use terrorism legislation and 
hamper efforts by police to continue their efforts to raise 
public and governmental awareness of the threat of terrorism. 
 
 
Other Impacts 
--------------- 
¶11. (C) Growing attention to the terrorist threat is a 
welcome development but it has an impact on other PST 
responsibilities such as counter-espionage.  As PST has 
devoted steadily more resources to counter terrorism its 
counter-espionage efforts have lagged due to budget 
constraints.  Media reports have highlighted this dilemma, 
citing record levels of espionage activity in Norway. 
Although PST would not say, other sources state that current 
Russian intelligence activity equals or exceeds Cold War 
levels.  Norwegian activities in the Barents area and energy 
companies, technology are two areas of interest for the 
Russians, according to a representative for Industry Security 
Council.   Members of certain immigrant communities 
(Vietnamese-Norwegians have been among those populations 
targeted) have also reported incidences of increases 
surveillance of their movements by security services of their 
country of origin. 
 
Comment 
---------- 
¶12. (C)     Norway,s growing awareness of the terrorist 
threat is welcome and something post has long promoted as an 
interagency priority, the GON still lags behind Denmark and 
Sweden in both preparedness and capabilities.  PST is doing 
what it can to meet the challenges of terrorism and espionage 
but without increases in its budget its effectiveness will be 
limited.  Embassy cooperation with police and security 
services remains good and we repeatedly press Norwegian 
authorities to take terrorism seriously.  We will seek to 
build on this momentum to fight the still-prevalent feeling 
that terrorism happens elsewhere, not in peaceful Norway. 
JOHNSON