Terror threat against Norway

In PST’s threat assessment for 2014, which we made public in the beginning of March, we state the following among other things:
The terror threat against Norway is considered to be aggravated. Extreme Islamism is still the most serious terror threat against Norway. Also, we state that it has for a long time been a strategy to recruit extreme Islamists in war and conflict zones to carry out terrorist actions in Europe, and that Syria at the time being is considered to be the one of the leading arenas for this recruitment.

During the past two or three years, PST has through our threat assessments, communicated that the terror threat from extreme Islamists against Norway and Norwegian interests is increasing.

The situation we are now facing is serious, but is still an expected development, in view of the trends and developments we have seen in the course of the last two or three years.

PST handles a great amount of threats each year. The majority of these threats are threats that it would be neither correct nor possible for us to comment openly on. In the current situation however I believe that to inform the public is the right thing to do. Both the 22 of July Commission and the Traavik Committee have emphasized the importance of PST being as open as possible about threats to our society.

PST recently received information that individuals affiliated with an extreme Islamist group in Syria may have the intention of carrying out a terrorist action in Norway. PST receives this sort of information from partner services from time to time, but it often turns out not to be correct after we have carried out our investigations to be able to confirm or deny the information.

In our preliminary investigations in this case, the credibility of the information was however strengthened. We also have information indicating that a terrorist action against Norway is planned to be carried out shortly – probably in a few days.

We have no information about who is behind such an attack, how it will be carried our, the target or in what way such an attack will be carried out.

PST is currently working on verifying the information we have received, in close cooperation with the Norwegian Intelligence Service. The Joint Counter Terrorism Centre is in this relation important in order to ensure a rapid and good flow of information between the services. PST also has a close dialogue with the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the Police Directorate in this matter, and the National Police Commissioner will inform in more detail about the measures to be undertaken by the police.

PST will to the greatest possible extent inform the public about further developments in this matter.

In the last few years, several countries have chosen to inform the public about threats that the individual country considers it may be facing. This will always be a difficult choice to make, which it also is for us in this case. However, when we choose to make this information public after all, it is because we believe it can have a preventive and a deterrent effect.

As the information is not specific and not very concrete but at the same time credible, it is difficult to give advice to the citizens of this country on how to act in this situation. I still believe that to inform about the situation is the right thing to do and at the same time assure that PST, in collaboration with the Norwegian Intelligence Service, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and our other national and international partners, will do our outmost to determine whether the threat is real or not – in order to prevent it.

 

Benedicte Bjørnland
Director General