Norway: 'Norwegian Defence League taken over by neo-Nazis'

Norway: 'Norwegian Defence League taken over by neo-Nazis'

Translated from Dagbladet:

The PST (Norwegian Security Service) held a press conference yesterday to announce their new threat-assessment report. As in previous years the report noted the threat of internet radicalization among Muslims, but this year PST chief Janne Kristiansen also named a new anti-Islamic organization, the Norwegian Defence League (NDL).

The organization is not discussed much, but is well known among the extreme right, Islam critics and anti-racist movements.

On Facebook, different NDL groups have 500 members, and the group's leaders claim they have over 600 supporters in Norway. Many are young men in their 20s, inspired by the "English defence league" in the UK.

"NDL profiles itself as a legal political movement, but as we see from the UK, the boundaries are fluid. It oftens ends in violent confrontations with those holding the opposite opinion," PST department head Jon Fitje told Dagbladet.

Remi Huseby (22), from Haugesund, who presented himself as the group's spokesperson last month, has received much attention from the media and anti-fascist groups. Last week he was kicked out of the Transport Workers Union due to his position.

After PST named the NDL yesterday, he had enough.

In an SMS to Dagbladet Huseby announced he's resigning from the organization: "Hereby confirm that I'm leaving the NDL because the NDL has been taken over by neo-Nazis".

With that he confirms the conflict which several members described to Dagbladet. Nazi sympathizers, nationalists and more moderate Islam opponents compete in leading the fledgling movement, Dagbladet was told.

"Some people declare themselves the self-appointed leaders, but aren't. There are both not serious and Nazi versions of the Norwegian Defence League on Facebook, a central person in the community told Dagbladet.

He didn't want his name published for his family's sake. He thinks that an NDL based on the British model will never pose a threat to Norwegian democracy and won't be of interest to the PST.

The PST is following intently to see if the community radicalizes and should be given more attention.

"Islam-hostile groups can take different forms. We see the developments in Europe and fear the same in Norway," says Fitje.

Fitje and his department are the main authors of the PST's threat assessment for 2011. He feras an escalation of conflicts between extremists in various camps. Though the NDL hadn't used violence, the PST defines it it as an 'extreme right-wing group'.

Huseby has manged a site for NDL for some time. He and other sympathizers of the NDL formerly came out against the racist-label.

"We are patriots and not racists. We are not against regular Muslims, but we will fight radical Islam and Islamization," Huseby told NRK in February. [ie, yesterday]

With Huseby out of the organization, it's unclear what political profile the NDL will have. If cultivating violence and radicalization become dominant, the group might get more attention from the security service.

Huseby's family say they initially supported their son engagement in politics. Now his mother regrets it, after they've been labeled as racists in the local community and the press.

"He's a young boy who grew up in a Christian, Israel-friendly home. We are not against Muslims, but those who support extreme Islam," mother Fr√łydis told Dagbladet.