European police agency plans task force to help Scandinavians "tackle terrorism" (Problem, Reaction, Solution?)
By Paisley Dodds | Macleans.ca / AP
In the wake of Norway’s terrorist attack, the European police agency is setting up a task force of more than 50 experts to help investigate non-Islamist threats in Scandinavian countries, its spokesman told The Associated Press.
Soeren Pedersen said Saturday the group, based in The Hague, hopes to help Norway in the coming weeks and to aid other countries such as Denmark, Finland and Sweden in assessing non-Islamist threats. Norway has not yet requested forensic experts but Europol stands ready to assist, Pedersen said.
“There is no doubt that the threat from Islamist terrorism is still valid,” he said, adding that the task force could be expanded in the future to include even more European nations. “But there have actually been warnings that (right-wing groups) are getting more professional, more aggressive in the way they attract others to their cause.”
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, European countries have viewed Islamic terrorism as the primary threat. But the fact that the suspect in Friday’s attacks turned out to be a Norwegian with right-wing views is raising questions about whether homegrown, non-Islamic terror threats have been misjudged.
The alleged assailant was identified by Norway’s national broadcaster as Anders Behring Breivik, 32; police will not confirm his name because charges are pending.
Authorities say he posted comments on Christian fundamentalist websites and held anti-Muslim views. He was also once a member of the youth wing of a rightist party.
In leaked diplomatic cables dating back to 2008, U.S. diplomats warned that Norway seemed complacent about terror threats and criticized gaps in intelligence. The cables released by Wikileaks also give a snapshot of simmering anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic tensions in Norway.
Anti-immigrant sentiment has grown in Norway as tensions rose over its policy of taking in conflict refugees.
In the 1990s, it welcomed immigrants from the Balkans. Years later, it opened its doors to large numbers of Iraqi refugees. The Norwegian government has said it expects some 15,000 new arrivals this year, many from Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Somalia.