Oslo terrorists might have grown up in Norway

Around 300 demonstrators gathered in University Square in Oslo on February 12, 2010 in protest against Islam's Prophet Mohammed drawings that were printed in Dagbladet (AFP Photo / Stian Lysberg Solum / Scanpix)
The terrorist attack in Oslo could be interpreted as part of the political struggle between Norway’s homegrown jihadist movement and the country’s liberal government, according to experts.

­Norway was put on Osama bin Laden’s hit-list some six years ago, but local jihadist groups have been bickering with the authorities, argued Walid Phares, co-secretary of the Transatlantic Legislative / Parliamentary Group on Counter-Terrorism. The Oslo attack, he suggested, could be a very tough warning by the jihadists.

Jihadists have been saying over the last three years that they are preparing attacks not only against targets like Moscow, Madrid and London, but elsewhere, in places deemed to be safe.

“Geopolitically speaking, the Scandinavian countries thought that they will be [securely] surrounded by Western Europe and Russia,” Phares said.

The attacks, he said, ought to serve as a wake-up call.

­“Norway and the other countries that were involved in reprinting the [Prophet] Mohammed cartoons have been in the crosshairs of Al Qaeda and its supporters for several years now, so [the attack] is not surprising at all – if in fact it turns out to be an Islamist group in line with Al Qaeda,” said William McCants, from the Combating Terrorism Center. He suggested that Muslim refugees from countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan could be the radical element behind the Oslo bombing.

Keith Harmon Snow, war correspondent and independent investigator, believes that if these attacks are a blow-back against Norway’s involvement in NATO’s military action, then many more attacks are in the pipeline.

“People who are responsible for participating in terrorism in the world, which includes the United States, these NATO countries and committing violence against innocent people in other parts of the world, have to be prepared for some sort of retaliation and it is only going to escalate,” Harmon Snow said.

However, he did not exclude the possibility that an individual could be behind the attacks.

“This could be an individual who organised this and perpetrated this. One the other hand it seems fairly coordinated – two different places, and surprising that it happened at the same time if that was the same individual,” Harmon Snow concluded.