28 February 2011
Monday 28 of February the Norwegian Secret Police (PST) published their annual threat assessment. Amongst the general findings, some relate to Islam and Muslims in Norway:
Even though few individuals in Norway support extreme Islamism, currently there is activity in certain communities which can contribute to a heightening of the threat situation during 2011. There are three main areas where PST expects developments to affect the threat picture in Norway in the year ahead.
Firstly, a steadily increasing level of radicalization will take place in public and through social media. Social media portals such as Facebook, blogs and various websites have become important forums in which to spread and discuss extreme Islamist views.
Secondly, visits to regions of conflict will continue, for the purpose of training or participation in battle. The majority of terrorist attacks that have been prevented or carried out in full in Europe have been carried out by individuals who have had training in areas of conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Recently Somalia and Yemen have also increased in significance as areas where such training takes place. In Norway there are a few individuals who have travelled in order to participate in training camps in these areas. In addition, there are individuals in Norway who actively facilitate travel by others to such places. The ideological and psychological influence, together with the skills, experience and networks these individuals develop while abroad means that some of them could represent a threat to Norway when they return here. They could represent a threat on their own, or in conjunction with others.
Thirdly, extreme Islamists in Norway will become more globally oriented. Individuals in Norway who have extreme Islamist views support organizations which mainly have a national or regional focus. At the same time there are individuals currently in Norway with extreme Islamist sympathies who appear to be more globally oriented. The place where the battle takes place does not appear to be important to these individuals, as long as the battle is being fought. These individuals join small groups which are not dominated by any one ethnicity. Nor are they preoccupied with any specific national conflict. Instead they are united, despite their differences, by an extreme Islamist ideology. These individuals are mainly the ones who could pose a direct threat to Norway in the year ahead. The provision of support in the form of financing, logistical support, propaganda and recruitment will be a significant activity of the Norwegian players again in 2011. Some extreme Islamists currently appear to be more globally oriented, and it is primarily this group who could present a direct threat to Norway in the year ahead.
There was also an increase in the activity of far-right extremist groups in 2010, and this activity is expected to continue in 2011. An increased level of activity among some anti-Islamic groups could lead to increased polarization and unease.
Recently some anti-Islamic groups have appeared in Norway. The development of such groups must be seen in the context of a general increased participation in antiforeigner and anti-immigration organizations in several European countries. Even though the anti-Islamic groups would like to present themselves as having cultural and ethnic diversity, their activity is based on a distinctly xenophobic ideology. In certain European countries such groups represent an increasing violence problem, and represent several thousand activists. Individuals who belong to anti-Islamic groups in Norway are first and foremost found on various social media. In 2011 we expect their activity to contribute to steering the public debate in the direction of increased xenophobic sentiments. This could contribute to an increased polarization within and between extremist groups in Norway. Increased activism among Norwegian anti-Islamic organizations can however also increase the use of violence in such groups, particularly in connection with demonstrations and commemorations.
28 February 2011