Oslo: Terrorism investigation leads to former Taliban health minister

Oslo: Terrorism investigation leads to former Taliban health minister

The Norwegian Security Service (PST) conducted this winter an operation against a certain community in the Oslo area linked to extreme Islamism. 

PST head Jørn Holme told Dagbladet newspaper that 25 adults belonging to the same group were systematically looked up by PST agents.  After careful evaluation PST chose to conduct confidential talks with them.  The operation was part of the PST efforts to prevent possible terrorist acts.

He confirms that all the men lived in the Østland area and the main part of the operation took place in winter, but he did not want to go further into its background.  Holme did not want to say whether anybody was arrested or deported.

The 25 men did not form a dedicated organization, but there is no doubt that they were all part of the same community and had close contacts with each other.

Dagbladet reveals that several of the men had been followed for a long time through phone tapping and seaches.  PST got confirmation then that the suspects had very worrisome conversations based on extreme Islamism.  Some of the conversation could be interpreted as wishing to carry out terrorist acts in Norway.  Others were about a Holy War abroad.

Though they did not reveal that anybody was in the process of planning terrorism against a certain target, the communications between the suspects were at a level which led the PST to take more active measures.  When the PST agents came to the door, most of the suspects were extremely surprised.  Holme says this people were a real concern in connection to terrorism and that this is one of the more extensive issues they've worked on in the past year.

He compares the recent operation with the PST's part in the investigation of the GSPC terrorist network in 2006, when the Norwegian security service worked together with the Italian police.  Thirteen people were deported from Norway in the wake of the operation, after searches and taps revels their contacts with terrorist suspect Salafists abroad.

The PST cooperated with a former Taliban minister who stood behind the terrorist community in Oslo.

According to Norwegian broadcaster NRK, PST help the man get asylum when he came to Norway and later with family reunification.  The former health minister in the Taliban regime also conducted dialog with the PST.

PST spokesperson Martin Bernsen told news agency NTB that after what happened on September 11, 2001, it was natural for them to speak with him and that it's natural for the PST to have contact with such a person.  He is not a source anymore and hasn't been for a long time.

Newspaper VG reported that several of the 25 young men had frequent contacts in a mosque in Grønland in Oslo.  They received ideological training there from the former Taliban minister.

The 49 year old came to Norway and to a city in Østlandet in 2001.  He lived on welfare and at the same time worked as an unpaid imam in a community in Oslo.  PST confirms it helped the man with family reunification, but says they had nothing to do with his asylum case.
According to VG the Norwegian authorities have been working recently on deporting the man from Norway.  One of the reasons is that he's been sentenced for violence against his minor daughter.

When he discovered that his 14 year old daughter got email from an Indian boy he beat her, while swearing on the Koran.  According to the judges in the Oslo court and the Borgarting Court of Appeals, he beat his daughter repeatedly in the face, before beating her with a cord while she lay on the floor.  In the appeals court he was sentenced to four months in prison.

The former Taliban minister also made several trips to Pakistan, where the PST thinks he made contact with terrorists.

Martin Bernsen told NTB that he can't confirm or deny whether they're following him but he can emphasize that he's no longer a PST source.

Sources: Dagbladet 1, 2 (Norwegian)

See also:
* Norway: Taliban's health minister avoiding war crimes tribunal
* Norway: Al-Qaeda terrorists

No comments: