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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Norway and Sweden: A Safe Haven for Dangerous Islamist Terrorists

Norway and Sweden: A Safe Haven for Dangerous Islamist Terrorists

August 16, 2010


Norway's daily "Aftenposten" reported in June 2009 that 33 Taliban asylum seekers were allowed to stay in Norway, even though they previously admitted having tortured or executed prisoners or having been Taliban soldiers. The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration ("Utlendingsdirektorat" or UDI) did not want them to stay, but they were overruled by the Immigration Appeals Board ("Utlendingsnemnda") or UNE. The Taliban asylum seekers were then given residence "on humanitarian ground."

A very silly decision indeed. "Aftenposten" correctly pointed out that "Norwegian forces often clash with Taliban groups in Afghanistan." Four Taliban asylum seekers also claimed they had converted to Christianity – but only after their arrival in Norway, possibly to make a favorable impression on the Norwegian immigration authorities.

Unfortunately, Norwegian immigration authorities and courts are rather lenient with respect to granting residence permits to so-called refugees from source countries of terrorism.

A former Taliban Health Minister named Abdul Mohammad Rauf got asylum in 2001. Later, his family was allowed to join him. But he was subsequently convicted by an Oslo court for beating his 14-year old daughter. He also made several suspicious trips to Pakistan, possibly with a view to contacting local terrorist networks. Back in Norway, he gave ideological training to 25 young men some of whom planned to carry out terrorist acts in Norway. Others wanted to go abroad to participate elsewhere in the jihad, ("hellig krig i utlandet"" or Holy War abroad), the Norwegian newspaper "Dagbladet" reported.

The case of Mullah Krekar

Mullah Krekar, an Iraqi Kurd, is another example of a Muslim jihadist whose asylum request had not been declined by the Norwegians – nine years ago, that is. Krekar subsequently founded his own terrorist organization, "Ansar Al-Islam" which cooperated with Al-Qaeda. They were also known as the "Kurdish Taliban." Krekar ("Abu Sayed") is a strong admirer of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and praised suicide bombing as "the biggest Jihad for Islam."

In November 2009, Krekar gave an interview to the Arab TV channel "Al-Hiwar," saying he wanted to establish a new Islamic Caliphate (Islamic theocracy or superstate) led by Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri or bin Laden's Afghan ally Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. (When I was in Pakistan in 1983, moderate Afghans and an American expert on Afghanistan in New York warned me against Hekmatyar whom they regarded as a serious threat to the Afghan cause; anti-Western hate cleric Hekmatyar did not hesitate to receive ample cash from the CIA at the time.) Krekar met Osama bin Laden in Peshawar, Pakistan, as early as 1988 and has supported him ever since.

So far, the Norwegian government failed to deport Krekar to Iraq. Deportation orders were not implemented as the government fears that the former Al-Ansar leader could face the death penalty there. Once again, European human rights treaties and requirements give protection to those asylum seekers who turn out to be dangerous terrorists, thus creating safe havens for them not only in Scandinavia but all over Europe. (In Britain, too, the government failed to deport dangerous terrorists – many of whom were former asylum seekers – after British deportation orders had successfully been challenged in lenient British courts.)

The 1954 Refugee Convention, though, says that the prohibition of expulsion or return ("refoulement") "may not be claimed by a refugee whom there are reasonable grounds for regarding as a danger to the security of the country in which he is." In his thorough study "The Refugee in International Law" Guy S. Goodwin writes: "Whether he or she may be considered a security risk appears to be left very much to the judgment of the State authorities."

In Norway, Mullah Krekar continues to pose a threat to national security. That is why Jorn Holme, the chief of Norway's "Police Security Service" ("Politiets sikkerhetsjeneste" or PST) wants Krekar to be deported as soon as possible. Krekar even issued death threats against Norwegian Conservative Party politician Erna Solberg who wants him to be deported straightaway: "My death will cost Norwegian society. If, for example, Erna Solberg throws me out of the country and I die as a result, she will suffer the same fate," "The Foreigner" (Norwegian news in English) reported last June. "He was not specific as to who would carry it out, but named both Ansar Al-Islam and Al-Qaeda." Progress Party Leader Siv Jensen plans on filing charges against Krekar: "This is nothing but a threat of terror act on Norwegian soil, if he isn't left in peace. I don't think you should be able to get away with that, and believe that such a serious threat in itself is enough to put the man in jail."

A recently disrupted Al-Qaeda plot in Norway

On July 8, 2010, German and Norwegian police arrested three terror suspects linked to a wider Al-Qaeda plot to stage terrorist attacks in Norway and other countries. Another arrest was made in Manchester, Britain, involving a Pakistani student named Abid Naseer. Those arrested in Norway and Germany were:

- Shawan Saeed Bujak (37), an Iraqi Kurd living in Oslo. He was arrested in the German city of Duisburg and Norway asked to extradite him.

- David Jakobsen (31), Uzbek living in Oslo who received a residence permit via family reunification.

- Mikael Davud (39), Norwegian citizen of Chinese-Uighur background. Davud was formerly called Muhammad Rashidin but he changed his name in 2007.

Norwegian officials said the three men were planning to stage terrorist attacks in Norway using hydrogen peroxide bombs – "the same type of homemade bombs allegedly planned in Manchester and New York," the London "Daily Telegraph" reported. This kind of bomb is also referred to as "Mother of Satan." The three men reportedly obtained the chemicals for the bomb in February or March this year. They are believed to be linked to the "East Turkestan Islamic Movement" (ETIM) and the "Islamic Jihad Union" (IJU). Both movements are close allies of Al-Qaeda and most of their recruits are Chinese Uighurs, ethnic Turks and Uzbeks.

Before the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the Taliban used to send Uighurs to the northern Afghan province of Kunduz where they were trained by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, another Al-Qaeda ally. Einar Wigen, a Norwegian terror expert who published the report "Islamic Jihad Union: Al-Qaeda's Key to the Turkic World?", says that "the Uighur and Uzbek jihadists are often in the same networks. Similarities in language could contribute to making the recruiting process easier." Mikael Davud (Muhammad Rashidin) previously traveled to Pakistan's lawless tribal region of Waziristan to be trained as a jihadist.

This shows once again how terrorism is exported to Europe by Muslim immigrants abusing their refugee status or residence permits. "In general, it's very ‘classic' for jihadists in Europe that just one in the group that plans terrorist acts gets training in camps, and has contact with the leaders, and that they recruit new members who already have citizenship or residence permits in Western countries," says Einar Wigen. "There are many similarities here with previous attacks in Europe, both those carried out and planned." Many of these attacks, including the foiled attacks in Britain and Norway, were probably planned by Saleh Al-Somali, a Somali terrorist who was Al-Qaeda's external operations chief. Al-Somali was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Waziristan in December 2009.

In recent years at least six Uzbeks and Uighurs were given residence permits in Norway although they belonged to the radical Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT). The decision to give these Islamists asylum was taken by the same "Immigration Appeals Board" (UNE) which recently granted asylum to 33 Taliban asylum seekers. Not only is HuT a terrorist organization that advocates the oppression of women, also do they openly espouse anti-Semitism, calling for the "destruction of the Jews and their usurping state in Palestine." Fadi Abdelatif, HuT spokesman in Denmark, distributed an anti-Semitic leaflet quoting the Koran: "Kill them (the Jews, that is) wherever you find them." "In August 2002, HuT in Denmark reportedly offered the equivalent of pound sterling 25,000 to anyone who killed a prominent Danish Jew," Melanie Philips, a British columnist, writes in "The Australian." Indeed, to allow such people into Europe is not very different from granting asylum to Nazis and Neo-Nazis. (There would really be an outcry if that were to happen.)


An Uzbek TV documentary aired on May 27, 2010, claimed that Sweden was sheltering a terrorist cleric named Obidkhon Nazarov who arrived in Sweden in 2005. From Sweden "he is still trying to set up his jihad group" that planned terrorist attacks in Uzbekistan, the documentary said. Nazarov denies links to extremists in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan, though, believes Nazarov was implicated in a series of suicide attacks that struck the U.S. and Israeli embassies in 2004 and recently made another attempt to destabilize the country.

More dangerous are the Somali networks in Sweden. At least 20 people – most of whom have a Somali background – have traveled from Sweden to Somalia to be trained or participate in acts of violence, according to the Swedish Security Service Säpo ("Säkerhetspolisen"). "Around ten people from Sweden are believed to be at a terrorist training camps in Somalia." So far, four Swedish citizens have been killed in Somalia.

All these jihadists were linked to the Somali terror network Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda ally. Säpo has previously referred to Sweden as a base for "recruitment, logistical support and financing of terrorism," "The Local" (Sweden) reported. Although Osama bin Laden "singled out Sweden as an example of a freedom-loving state that did not merit attack" (in 2004), subsequent statements by Al-Qaeda affiliates suggest this is no longer the case. Malena Rembe, a Säpo counter-terrorism analyst, told "Jane's Intelligence Review" that "Intelligence, internet chatter and postings by groups such as AQI ("Al-Qaeda in Iraq") are increasingly mentioning Sweden or Swedish interests as a potential target for Islamist terrorism." Säpo told Jane's "that members of several terrorist organizations are present in Sweden and that they are fairly active in providing logistical support to their organizations."

One of the targets of Islamist terrorists is Swedish artist Lars Vilks who made a series of drawings depicting the Islamic prophet Mohammed as a roundabout dog. In March 2010, U.S. citizen Colleen R. LaRose, a radicalized Muslim convert also known as "Jihad Jane," was charged with trying to recruit Islamist terrorists to murder Vilks. Two months later, Vilks' house was attacked by arsonists. Two Kosovan-Swedish brothers were subsequently arrested and tried.

In February 2010, Säpo arrested three Swedish citizens of Somali origin who were suspected of preparing terrorist attacks and financing terrorism, "The Local" reported. "One of the men was the same man who had a map of artist Lars Vilks' house confiscated by police last year."

In June 2010, another Somali-Swede was arrested by heavily armed police in Rinkeby, a suburb of Stockholm. He is believed to have connections to the Somali terror network Al-Shabaab. In May 2010, a Somali-Swede living in the southern city of Gothenburg was remanded in custody by the Gothenburg District Court. He had been in Somalia for about a year.

The cities of Gothenburg and Malmö are known safe havens for Islamists and Islamist terrorists who can easily hide among the large Muslim immigrant communities. A Swedish documentary produced by Oscar Hedin showed a Swedish Muslim convert from Gothenburg who spoke openly of his wish to become a martyr, Michael Jonsson and Christofer Berglund write in Jane's Intelligence Review. Other members of the so-called Gothenburg group traveled to Somalia and one was killed there in June 2007. "Another Gothenburg militant known by the alias Abu Muhammad was killed in Afghanistan in 2006." ‘These individuals," Jonsson and Berglund conclude, "are part of a steady trickle of volunteers traveling from Scandinavia to fight in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia."

The Swedish newsapaper "Expressen" quotes a woman from West-Sweden who "describes how the recruiters collect money among the Somalis, Arabs and Iranians. That the money allegedly goes to humanitarian aid, but is in fact used for Al-Shabaab's terror activities."

No asylum for terrorists, anti-Semitic Islamists and criminals

Not all those who are part of the 40,000 strong Somali immigrant community in Sweden and Norway (20,000 in Sweden, 20,000 to 25,000 in Norway) are terrorists or anti-Semitic Islamists. But there is indeed a very wide gap between oppressive Somali culture and Western values of freedom and equality of women and men.

Robbert van Lanschot, a former Dutch Foreign Office official who knows the Islamic world quite well, claims that Somalis who seek asylum in the Netherlands, often receive money from family members for their trip to Europe. Once they have been accepted as refugees in Holland, they can claim benefits. They are then supposed to send money regularly to these family members. This is seen as a kind of "business venture." The refugee flow to Europe is not as spontaneous as some believe. All too often it is directly linked to organized crime – migrant trafficking, fraud, identity fraud, and in not so few cases to terrorism.

The flow of refugees from Somalia and other source countries of crime and terrorism to Europe and North America must therefore be stemmed. Terrorists, Islamists and criminals from Somalia, Nigeria, Kenia, Algeria, Morocco, Tunesia, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, southern Russia, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, etc.) should not be entitled to enjoy protection under European and North American asylum laws.

Too lenient immigration authorities and courts should strictly adhere to the following requirements stipulated in the above mentioned "Refugee Convention" of 1954. Article 33, paragraph 1 prohibits "contracting states" "to expel or return (‘refouler') a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion." But article 33, paragraph 2 mentions the following important exception to the principle of non-refoulement: "The benefit of the present provision may not, however, be claimed by a refugee whom there are reasonable grounds for regarding as a danger to the security of the country in which he is, or who, having been convicted by a final judgment of a particularly serious crime, constitutes a danger to the community of that country."

Emerson Vermaat, studied international law in Leiden, the Netherlands, and is specialized in crime and terrorism. Website: www.emersonvermaat.com.


Aftenposten (Oslo), June 11, 2009 ("Gikk fra Taliban til Jehovas vitner"). One of the Afghans even joined the Jehova's Witnesses. He rightly assumed that Norway would never deport a member of a fanatical Christian sectarian group to Afghanistan.

Dagbladet (Oslo), May 15, 2009 ("PST aksjonerte mot 25 islamister etter terrorsamtaler i Oslo") May 16, 2009 ("Samarbeitet med talibanminister").

Verdens Gang (Oslo), November 24, 2009 ("Krekar vil ha islamsk stat ledet av Osama bin Laden"). Dr. Azzam Tamimi, the man who interviewed Krekar for Al-Hiwar TV, is a UK Muslim Brotherhood leader and close to Hamas.

Insight TV News (Britain), February 10, 2003 (Mullah Krekar interview: "Suicide is the biggest Jihad for Islam.")

The Foreigner. Norwegian News in English, October 21, 2009 ("‘Deport Krekar' says security chief").

The Foreigner. Norwegian News in English, June 11, 2010 ("Mullah Krekar threatens reprisal killings").

Islam in Europe, July 11, 2010 ("Norway: Terrorist cell planned attacks in Norway"). Quotes from Einar Wigen.

Telegraph.co.uk, July 8, 2010 ("New York-Manchester bomb plot leads to Norwegian arrests as international net widens").

Verdens Gang, July 12, 2010 ("Terrorsiktet hyllet bin Laden". "Tror ikke myndighetene har terrorkontroll").

Verdens Gang, July 10, 2010 ("PST overvaket terrorsiktet med skjulte kameraer").

Aftenposten, July 10, 2010 ("PST holder oye med uigurer i Norge"). Quotes from Einar Wigen.

Islam in Europe, July 16, 2010 ("Norway: Hizb ut-Tahrir members given asylum").

Hizb ut-Tahrir, wikepedia.org, 3.8.1 ("Charges of anti-Semitism"); The Australian, July 6, 2010 ("Jihadist group a threat to us all"); see also: IPT News, July 16, 2010, Hizb ut-Tahrir in America: Lessons from Great-Britain. "An edict entitled ‘The Islamic Rule on Hijacking Aeroplanes" advocates hijacking planes which belong to 'enemy' nations."

The Local (Sweden), May 29, 2010 ("Sweden sheltering terrorist cleric: Uzbek TV").

The Local, June 22, 2010 ("Terror suspect arrested in Rinkeby"). "At least 20 people are known to have traveled from Sweden to Somalia…" "Four Swedish citizens have been killed in Somalia."

Shahram Akbarzadeh and Fethi Mansouri (Eds.), Islam and Political Violence. Muslim Diaspora and Radicalism in the West (London/New York: I.B. Tauris, 2010), p. 33; Bruce Lawrence (Ed.), Messages to the World. The Statements of Osama bin Laden (London/New York: Verso, 2005), p. 236. "Al-Qaeda has not attacked Sweden, which has never been an aggressor in Muslim world."

Michael Jonsson and Christofer Berglund, Safe haven? Radical Islam's Scandinavian links, in: Jane's Intelligence Review (London), March 2009, p. 21. Sweden (Säpo findings on AQI) and the Gothenburg group.

The Local, February 28, 2008 ("Terror suspects arrested in Sweden").

The Local, May 21, 2010 ("Somalia terror suspect remanded"). Gothenburg. "Around ten people from Sweden were believed to be at terrorist training camps in Somalia."

Expressen (Sweden), July 29, 2010 ("Lurades att bli terrorist". "Terrorsvensken flydde skulder"). Gothenburg arrest of the "terror Swede." Also on Al-Shabaab's money recruiters in Sweden: "Att pengarna påstås gå till humanitär hjälp, men egentligen används till al-Shababs terrorverksamhet." On Swedish passport holders who died in suicide attacks in Somalia: "En handfull unga med svenska pass har hittats döda."

Robbert van Lanschot, Café Mogadishu. Omzwervingen door het andere Nederland (Amsterdam: Mets & Mets, 2010), p. 144.

Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, The Refugee in International Law. Second Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 139-141, 402, 403. Page 141: "Nevertheless, it must be admitted that the prospect of a masssive influx of refugees and asylum seekers exposes the limits of the State's obligation otherwise not to return or refuse admission to refugees." Page 139: "The exceptions of non-refoulement are thus framed in terms of the individual, but whether he or she may be considered a security risk appears to be left very much to the judgment of the State authorities."

This also applies, by the way, to Mexican and other Latin American illegal immigrants in the United States and Canada who commit serious crimes (drug smuggling, migrant trafficking, extortion, murder, etc.). States do have the right to take measures to curb a massive influx of refugees and immigrants when there are reasonable grounds to assume that such an influx has a destabilizing effect on society.

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