Norwegians take command in ISIS, pose threat to Norway – security official

Reuters / Stringer
Some Islamist fighters from Norway are believed to have taken leading positions within Islamic States, according to the Norwegian Intelligence Service chief. A hundred and fifty Norwegians are thought to be fighting along terrorists in Syria and Iraq.

“We believe that some of the Norwegians in Isil [Isis] have risen to middle-management functions,” Kjell Grandhagen, the head of the Norwegian Intelligence Service, told Dagbladet newspaper.

“There are still several Norwegians who hold leadership positions in Isil,” Grandhagen told the newspaper.

He gave the example of ISIS commander Bastian Vasquez, a Norwegian of Chilean extraction who was reportedly killed in the fall, and an unnamed Norwegian of Eritrean parentage also known as an ISIS commander. A hundred and fifty Norwegians have joined ISIS according to the police authorities, Dagbladet reports.

READ MORE: 20,000 foreigners have joined ISIS in Iraq, Syria – reports

Kjell Grandhagen claims Norwegians fighting for the ISIS were radicalized in the Profetens Ummah group which is active in eastern Norway close to the capital Oslo.

He explains it is a great threat to Norway as Norwegians who get combat experience in Syria and Iraq can use it back in their native country. Being in ISIS-controlled territory they are in touch with radicals from other countries, and in the future they can easily return to Norway as they possess valid passports and then commit a terrorist act or form an Islamist cell.

“We believe there is a significant terrorist danger against Norway,” the intelligence chief said. “There is a danger with returnees who can form cells in the West. And there is the psychological impact - people who are attracted by ideology, but who never even been in Iraq or Syria, which is calling for action and then perform it with the funds are available.”

The official believes ISIS has reached its peak, a culmination point, after being shaken by the considerable loss near Kobani and it needs to change its tactics, but its power should not be underestimated. Grandhagen assumes the anti-ISIS airstrikes will make Islamic State shift to a guerrilla war.

READ MORE: Airstrikes against Islamic State top $1bn, kill over 1,100 people

“We see an Isis… which is impaired in some areas and must change its tactical concept to adapt to the situation,” Grandhagen said. “But we have no faith in those who think that this is an organization that will let itself be defeated militarily in the near future. They have all the qualities needed to stand militarily for a long time, both in the areas where they reside and as a base for international terrorism.”

Grandhagen warns that if the push for terrorism in Norway from Syria is unseen that does not mean it does not take place, and the terror danger in Europe should be seen as a European phenomenon.

Europe’s fear of new terrorist acts is on the rise after the tragedy at Charlie Hebdo. Over 5,000 people have joined the Islamic State according to different sources with France, Germany and the UK having the largest numbers fighting with militants in Syria. Their number causes concern in Western countries as they now pose a terror threat if they return home.