Country Report on Terrorism 2019 - Chapter 1 - Norway

Overview: Norway and the United States maintained good collaboration on CT. Norway’s Police Security Service (PST) continued to assess that individuals and groups inspired by “extreme Islamist groups” represented the most significant terrorist threat to Norway. Norway saw an increased level of mobilization and recruitment among REMT groups, which it calls “right wing extremist groups.” The PST reintroduced a five-level scale to describe the national terror threat level and set the risk level at 3, which indicates a moderate chance of a terrorist attack taking place.

Norway is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. The government co-sponsored UNSCRs 2178 and 2396 and contributed to the Coalition’s five lines of effort, including military personnel support to a capacity-building mission for Iraqi security forces in Anbar, Iraq. In 2019, Norway provided country specific funding of approximately US $334 million to address the humanitarian crises in Iraq and Syria.

2019 Terrorist Incidents: In August, Philip Manshaus attempted to commit a mass shooting at an Islamic center in a municipality neighboring the capital, Oslo. He entered the mosque when few people were present and was overpowered by a member before being apprehended by police. He is being investigated for terrorism and the murder of his stepsister and is in pretrial detention. The investigation revealed he was active in online forums for white supremacists and inspired by the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. Following this attack, PST updated its assessment of the likelihood of “right-wing extremists” attempting to carry out terrorist attacks from “unlikely” to “possible.”

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Terrorism is a criminal offense in Norway, and it is illegal to conduct or plan to conduct a terrorist attack, receive terrorism-related training, or provide material support to a terrorist organization. In addition, it is a criminal offense to travel or intend to travel to fight on behalf of a terrorist organization. The maximum prison sentence for serious terrorism offenses is 30 years.

Norway continued to prosecute individuals for terrorism-related offenses. In separate cases, a Norwegian court convicted a woman of attempting to join a terrorist organization and a man of participating in a terrorist organization. The woman received a prison sentence of two years and nine months, and the man received seven years and three months. In at least one instance, Norwegian officials used the Immigration Act to arrest a white supremacist on the grounds that he could influence others to commit violence.

The Norwegian government changed the Immigration Directorate’s guidance so that those possessing or seeking residence permits who have spent time in ISIS-controlled areas or have some affiliation with ISIS or other terrorist networks in Syria and Iraq may have their permits revoked and shall have their applications denied, to the extent consistent with the Norwegian Constitution and International Law.

The PST is responsible for domestic security, including CT activities. The Joint Counter Terrorism Center, a joint analysis cell, includes participants from the PST and the Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS), the external security service. Both PST and NIS have devoted significant resources to identifying, tracking, and taking action against Norwegian citizens intending to travel to and from Syria or Iraq to fight for terrorist groups.

Norway shares fingerprint information in criminal investigations with the EU and the parties to the Prüm Convention. Norway continued to explore an agreement on sharing PNR data with the EU and is simultaneously developing a national PNR system, which remained in the pilot phase at the end of 2019. Immigration to Norway is facilitated and regulated by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, which processes all applications for asylum, visas, family immigration, work and study permits, permanent residence, and travel documents. The Norwegian Immigration Database serves as a central repository for immigration authorities and contains biographic data and facial photos for all applicants for admission. The Norwegian police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issue passports that, since 2005, have contained biometric data accessible for review by border security officials. Norway coordinates with INTERPOL and Europol to enhance its vetting processes and has access to the Schengen Information System and the Visa Information System to share and receive information regarding suspected terrorists.

Security measures to protect soft targets in Oslo include physical barriers in the streets of one of the city’s main pedestrian thoroughfares and directly outside the neighboring buildings. Measures may be enhanced for specific events. Police at Oslo’s Gardermoen Airport are armed on a permanent basis. The government and its underlying agencies continued to implement measures to secure public infrastructure, such as government and defense facilities, against potential terrorist attacks. This followed criticism for slow progress by the National Auditor in 2018.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Norway is a member of the FATF. Norway’s FIU, the Financial Intelligence Unit Norway, is a member of the Egmont Group. Norway is a member of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition’s CIFG. There were no significant updates in 2019.

Countering Violent Extremism: Norway continued to implement its National Action Plan against Radicalization and Violent Extremism, published in 2014, which is a whole-of government approach to countering terrorist radicalization and recruitment. Priorities include strengthening CVE research, improving national and local cooperation on counter-radicalization efforts, promoting the reintegration of former terrorists, and preventing online recruitment and radicalization. The plan is dynamic and is reviewed regularly with all stakeholders to ensure continued effectiveness. A review process begun in 2019 has been particularly comprehensive because of changes in the threat environment.

Norway coordinates among authorities responsible for managing the release from prison and reintegration of those convicted of terrorism-related offenses. Municipalities considered home to populations and individuals most vulnerable to terrorist radicalization have created action plans for prevention activities. The national government hosts an annual conference on terrorist radicalization, which in 2019 focused in part on racially or ethnically motivated terrorism.

Norway supports the Youth Civil Activism Network. Oslo and Kristiansand are members of the SCN.

International and Regional Cooperation: Norway is active in multilateral fora in efforts to counter terrorism, including NATO, the EU’s Radicalization Awareness Network, and the OSCE. In 2019, the OSCE launched a Norwegian-funded handbook on gender perspectives in countering violent extremism and radicalization. Norway provided financial support to the GCTF Working Group on Capacity-Building in East Africa, supported INTERPOL’s capacity-building programs on border security and rule of law in North Africa and the Sahel, and funded counter-radicalization programs in prisons in Kenya, Indonesia, and Morocco. Norway supports implementation of the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism and is co-chair with Jordan of the Group of Friends at the UN on preventing violent extremism. Norway is contributing $1.2 million to the UNOCT for the 2018-2021 period, in partnership with UNDP. Norway provides funding for the International Civil Society Action Network and in 2019 hosted the eighth annual Women, Peace and Security forum, which focused on situational and trends analysis regarding the threat of terrorism and conflict. Norway supports the GCERF.