The police agency in charge of Norway's national security believes it has secured evidence that three men arrested in Oslo Thursday have been funneling money to finance terrorism in Somalia.
All three suspects come from Somalia and have been linked to the radical group Al Shabab, which in turn has been linked to terrorist activity. Prosecutors claim the suspects have sent money back to Somalia to finance "holy war" against the government that has run the country since Ethiopian forces invaded in 2006.
All three deny any terrorist activity and others active in Norway's Somalian community scoff at the charges. They claim it's no crime to be politically active or oppose the current regime in Somalia or anywhere else.
"If support for the fight against Ethiopia is terror, then we're all terrorists," one local Somalian told newspaper VG on Friday. Others likened the struggle against unpopular regimes at home to the resistance effort against German occupation forces in Norway during World War II.
The three suspects include a 39-year-old man who came to Norway from Somalia's war-torn capital of Mogadishu. He's married, has children, is a practicing Muslim and speaks Norwegian. He has been working in an Internet cafe that was raided by police on Thursday, and was at work when he was arrested.
The other two suspects are a 47-year-old Somalian who has lived in Norway since 1999 but has remained politically active against the sitting government in Somalia, and a 40-year-old man who has been in Norway for a the past few years and operates a "hawala" system of sending payments and transferring money overseas. Such systems are illegal, but often are used even by international organizations that need to get aid funds to underdeveloped countries.
None of the suspects has been identified by name, in accordance with Norwegian press practice. They face custody hearings over the weekend.
Source: Aftenposten (English)