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TERRORISM

Al-Qaeda’s Norwegian ‘was left-wing radical’

A Norwegian jihadist thought to have received Al-Qaeda training in Yemen was previously a left-wing radical who refused to believe that Osama Bin Laden’s network carried out the September 11th terrorist attacks, a newspaper said.

The 33-year-old Norwegian now being hunted by a slew of international intelligence agencies associated in his youth with Oslo’s far-left Blitz movement, newspaper Dagbladet reports.

Despite his one-time radical credentials, he later worked as a child minder at a daycare centre in Oslo, the city where he was born and raised, and did not have a history of violence, the paper said.

He eventually became a member of the Green Party, according to the newspaper.

A source close to the suspect said he came to be viewed as an easily-led conspiracy theorist after the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001.

His ideological priorities shifted after he married the daughter of a diplomat from a North African country, the paper said.

In 2008, he converted to Islam. He then underwent a change of lifestyle, giving up alcohol and breaking off almost all contact with his earlier friends.

He recently became a father, Dagbladet said, adding that his wife had travelled to her home country with their child.

Peter Neumann, a Professor of Security Studies at King’s College in London, said it was “not surprising” that the terrorist-in-waiting had sympathized with groups on the far-left.

“Converts are often on the look-out for something to which they can dedicate themselves, and they like to experiment with radical environments. They seek out a strong ideology that gives them meaning and structure,” Neumann said.

“In Norway, converting to Islam is probably one of the most rebellious things you can do,” he added.

Neumann further noted that western converts, aside from women who converted when marrying Muslim men, were overrepresented among jihadists.

The Sunday Times said Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had recruited the Norwegian Muslim convert and given him terrorist training in Yemen, and that the group were believed to have selected a US passenger jet as a target.

"The Norwegian recruit goes under the Islamic name of Muslim Abu Abdurrahman," the newspaper said.

He recently spent several months in Yemen to complete his training, the paper said.

Intelligence services in Norway last week said the 33-year-old remained in Yemen and cannot be extradited as it is not a crime under Norwegian law to attend a terrorist training camp.

Sources from three European intelligence agencies told The Associated Press, which broke the story, that the man was “operational” and ready to strike.

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TERRORISM

Kongsberg attacker killed victims with ‘sharp object’

Norwegian police said Monday that the five victims of last week's attack were killed by a "sharp object" used by the suspect, not a bow and arrows.

The Kongsberg attacker is said to have killed five people with sharp objects. Pictured is police tape from a separate incident.
The Kongsberg attacker is said to have killed five people with sharp objects. Pictured is police tape from a separate incident. Photo by Søren Storm Hansen on Flickr.

“At some point he discarded or lost his bow and arrows,” police inspector Per Thomas Omholt told reporters.

He said that during the attack on Wednesday the suspect killed “five people with a sharp object both in private addresses and in public spaces”.

Police, who had previously said that the suspect Espen Andersen Brathen was armed with a bow and arrows and two other weapons, did not specify the nature of the sharp weapons, adding that they were still interviewing witnesses.

“Everything points to the victims being selected at random,” Omholt said.

According to the police, more than 10 people were also shot at with arrows at the start of the attack, but none were killed with this weapon.

READ MORE: Norway police query Kongsberg attacker’s Muslim faith

During police questioning, Brathen has confessed to the killings and to wounding three others.

The 37-year-old Danish citizen has announced publicly that he is a convert to Islam and initially police reported that there had been fears of radicalisation.

He is however being kept in a medical facility pending a psychiatric evaluation, which is necessary to determine whether Brathen can be held legally responsible for his actions.

“As far as motive is concerned, illness remains the main hypothesis. And as far as conversion to Islam is concerned, this hypothesis is weakened,” Omholt added.

On Saturday, police announced the identities of the five victims, four women and one man: Andrea Meyer, 52, Hanne Merethe Englund, 56, Liv Berit Borge, 75, Gunnar Erling Sauve, 75 and Gun Marith Madsen, 78.

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