Three men accused of conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism have
been arrested by Norwegian police. Two were apprehended in Norway; the
third fled Norway to Germany, where he was arrested with the assistance of local police. The
men are variously described as "linked" to terrorism, as terrorists
themselves, and in some cases as members of al-Qaeda. The location of the arrests is
unusual, to say the least. As New American Foundation analyst Katherine Tiedemann put it
, "Al Qaeda in... Norway?
Didn't see that one coming
." Information is still coming
in and the story could change quickly, but here's what we know right
- What They May Have Been Planning The New York Times'
Alan Cowell reports, "A police
official said the arrests took place on Thursday, with the men
suspected of planning to use bombs made of peroxide that were both
powerful and easily transported. ... News reports said the arrests came
after counterterrorism agents maintained surveillance of the suspects
for a year. The arrests were linked to a similar conspiracy in
Manchester, England, where a man was arrested on Wednesday on an
extradition warrant issued by the United States."
- What They're
Charged With Al Jazeera reports, "Jan
Glent, the national prosecutor, said the three had been 'charged with
having entered into a partnership to commit a terrorist act. ... We also
think they have links to al-Qaeda and to similar attempts [at attacks]
in New York and Manchester,' he said."
- Is This Connected to
Other Terror Plots? Not exactly. The Associated Press' Ian
MacDougall, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman explain, "U.S. officials in
Washington believe the Norway plan was organized by Salah al-Somali,
al-Qaida's former chief of external operations who is in charge of
plotting attacks worldwide. Al-Qaida usually keeps its plots
compartmentalized, and officials do not believe the suspects in Norway
knew about the other plots. The officials spoke on condition of
anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case. ...
Officials said it was not clear the latest men arrested had selected a
target for their attack."
- Who They Were The New York
Times' Alan Cowell writes, "One of the
men arrested was a 39-year-old Norwegian citizen of Chinese origin who
belonged to the Muslim Uighur group, she said. Another was a 37-year-old
Iraqi citizen who came to Norway in 1999 and has permanent residency.
The third man was a 31-year-old Uzbek citizen who also has permanent
residency in Norway."
- Why Target Norway? Foreign Policy's
David Kenner speculates, "Norway is
thought to have been a target because it has contributed 500 soldiers to
the internatioanl war effort in Afghanistan, and because of the furor
sparked by a Danish newspaper's decision in 2006 to publish 12 cartoons
depicting the Prophet Mohammed." Norway is one of 42 nations to contribute troops to the International
Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
- Sounds Like an Old
Joke Central Asia expert Joshua Foust quips, "Three guys, an Uzbek, an Iraqi, and a Uighur, walk
into a bar in Oslo... and are arrested for thought crimes."
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