Government security authorities believe that more than 140 foreign fighters have left Norway for Syria and Iraq since autumn 2012. That is more than double the number they assumed at first, it was announced on Tuesday.
The Norwegian Police Security Service (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste - PST) believed no more than 60 foreign fighters had travelled from Norway to Syria and Iraq since Autumn 2012. But PST now are certain that figure could be between 100 and 140, reported Dagsavisen.
According to the Norwegian newspaper, several insiders with knowledge about the Islamist group “Profetens Ummah” (PU - Prophet’s Ummah), estimate the latest figures. PST have confirmed that their estimate is likely too low.
Senior advisor Martin Bernsen of PST said to Dagsavisen: “We have to expect that there are more people who have travelled to Syria than we know of. Many have different reasons for travelling. Some also have travelled in order to serve in the caliphate. Others to visit or search for their children.”
At least twenty people have come back to Norway from Syria or Iraq and twelve persons are reported dead. Terror researchers Petter Nesser and Brynjar Lia claim that the Norwegian jihadists in Profetens Ummah have become an important part of a trans-national Islamist network. Many have got central roles in the Isis rebel group, as leaders for military divisions, spokespersons and coordinators.
Bernsen said: "In addition, the establishment of the caliphate has awoken the desire to travel for many. During the summer we saw many leaving, but very few returned. PST has priority focus on people who are already radical and who may have gone to Syria and Iraq to join Isis.”
In a report earlier this year, PST claimed that the threat against Norway and Norwegian interests has grown, especially due to the increased stream of Norwegians who go to Syria to fight.
As recent as November 5th this year, the intelligence service of the Norwegian armed forces and PST claimed through the common counter terror centre, FKTS, that someone will likely commit terror attacks in Norway during the next twelve months.
This autumn, PST estimated that around 60 Norwegians went to Syria and Iraq. PST fears that many of them will return radicalized and trained with weapons and pose a significant security risk for many years ahead.