We got the best summer ever, for the last couple of weeks. Nice and sunny, holiday time. Suddenly, a couple of days ago the country got the most terrible message: The Norwegian government has received information about a possible terror threat against Norway. Norwegian officials told that Islamist terrorists could strike the country within a few days. The Police Security Service had received information that individuals affiliated with an extreme Islamist group in Syria may have the intention of carrying out a terrorist action in Norway.
We used to see our country as the quiet corner of this world. We are also the host for The Nobel Peace Prize, and we are suposed to be “the best country” to live in, according to the UN development ranking. In short, this place is supposed to be safe, and peaceful, and you usually see no armed police, and no arms at all (except for the occasional hunter). This is a country where you still don’t have to lock your door some places, or your car, and no fence around you garden is needed. Suddenly there is armed police everywhere, the army is prepared to step in if necessary, you need a passport to pop across the border to Denmark or Sweden, and our 600 ports with international traffic is suddenly of major concern. What is this?
Terrorism like this is no news to so many countries today, sadly enough. It is almost unbelievable in Norway. But actually we had a big terror attack three years ago. 77 people were killed 22 July 2011 by a Norwegian who wanted to attack our Labor Party because he didn’t like their immigration policy. Most of the victims were young people on a summer camp. This is a different story. This time the authorities was alarmed, and they chose to inform the public. Tonight they say the threat is reduced. We don’t know what will be happining. Hopefully nothing at all. But it is a situation some have been warning about, and few have taken seriously.
The most interesting warning is comming from former Islamists, that is European militants that for years belived in the Islamist doctrines of jihad and sharia. Like Maajid Nawaz from England, a former member of the Islamist revolutionary group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), imprisoned in Egypt from 2001 until 2006 since he belonged to a group banned in Egypt. He resigned from HT in 2007, and co-founded Quilliam a counter-extremism think tank. “That involved a recalibration of one’s identity, to start defining yourself as Muslim against the rest of the world,” he writes in his book Radical (2013) about how he was radicalized at a young age.
A few days ago The Islamic State announced the death of Abu Ayub al-Nurwiji (the Norwegian) in northern Baghdad. He died on June 2. The suicide bomber from Oslo (born in Tunisia) is supposed to have died when he performed an attack in Baghdad, and if so he is the first confirmed suicide bomber from Norway. But he is cetrainly not the first jihadist from Norway. As I have mentioned in a former post we are exporting them, that is at least 40-50 have been fighting jihad in Syria, and one of the terrorists killing about 70 people at the West Gate shopping Center in Kenya last October was supposed to be a 23 year old man from the small Norwegian town of Larvik (originally from Somalia). And last week we got the news about an etnic Norwegian (35) who is regarded as a global threat by US authorities. He converted in 2008 and is trained by al-Qaida in Jemen.
So how can people from this small democracy from the far North end up as suicide bombers and other terrorists? Ahmed Akkari from Denmark have some of the answers, like Nawaz mentioned before. They have both been radicalized at a young age. They know the processes of radicalization. They have even been recruiters for these organizations, and they have met people who later became terrorists.
“Gullible municipalities threw millions of dollars directly into the mosques. The money went to Islamist indoctrination, and to spread hatred against Denmark and values such as democracy, tolerance of freedom.” Writes Akkari in his biography My leave of Islamism (2014) (my translations, the book is in Danish).
Ahmed Akkari is born in Lebanon and came to Denmark as a child with his family seeking asylum. Akkari is known for his involvement in the Muhammad cartoons controversy, bringing the issue to the attention of influential decision-makers in the Middle East. That is a past he has now firmly rejected.
Another author who has written an interesting book about these dark forces is Zeyno Baran from Turkey. She is an expert on extremism that believes that American and European policymakers have partnered with the wrong Muslims, freezing out their friends and empowering those who wish them ill: “For the past several decades, Islamists have misrepresented their extremist ideology in the West as mainstream Islamic thinking. Their efforts have been boosted by billions of dollars from the governments and private sitizens of Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf states. This support has allowed Islamists to fund a wide range of institutions aimed at establishing their political interpretation of Islam as the dominant Muslim discourse in the United States and Europe. These include imam training centers, elementary and secondary schools, youth clubs, and civic action groups. Islamist movements seek to use such institutions to advance their utupian social engineering project: to “Islamize the world.” Citizen Islam (2011)
The ultimate step is for Islamists to gain political control of governments around the world, and unify all countries into the caliphate, writes Baran. If somebody should utter something like that in Norway, that person would be laughed at, and silenced. And Baran admits it sounds alamist, but she says: look at Afghanistan. Today she could also say: look at ISIS, the first terror group to build an “Islamic state“, or to Northern Nigeria and Boko Haram, just to mention a few.
“To a Muslim like myself, raised in a democratic country, it is self-evident that Islamism threatens to undermine the fundamental liberties Muslims enjoy in modern societies… I was raised to believe, like most of Turkey’s 70 million Muslims, that Islam and democracy can and must coexist,” writes Zeyno Baran, who wants people and governments to see the difference between Islam and Islamism. I hope many people will read her book, and also the others mentioned. We even have one book about the Norwegian jihadists. I recommend that one too: Norsk Jihad, Jan Akerhaug (2013), it is in Norwegian.