Bomb arrests in Norway linked to terror plots in United States

OSLO, Norway — Three suspected al-Qaida members were arrested Thursday in a Norwegian bomb plot linked to the same terrorist planners behind thwarted schemes to blow up New York’s subway and a British shopping mall.

Janne Kristiansen

Janne Kristiansen

OSLO, Norway — Three suspected al-Qaida members were arrested Thursday in a Norwegian bomb plot linked to the same terrorist planners behind thwarted schemes to blow up New York’s subway and a British shopping mall.

The alleged Norwegian plot, underscoring changing al-Qaida tactics in the decade since the 9/11 attacks, was said to involve powerful peroxide bombs similar to ones aimed for detonation in New York and Manchester, England.

All three plans were organized by Saleh al-Somali, al-Qaida’s former chief of external operations, who had been in charge of plotting attacks worldwide, Norwegian and U.S. officials believe.

Al-Somali was killed in a CIA drone airstrike last year, but officials say the three plots had already been set in motion by the time of his death.

Thursday’s arrests suggested how decentralized and nimble al-Qaida has become since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

The terror group has recently focused on smaller-level attacks that don’t require the intricate planning that it took to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings in New York and Washington.

Last year, when the FBI and CIA thwarted the suicide attack in the New York subway, officials called it the most dangerous plot since 9/11.

And in the past two days, revelations about the related plots in England and now in Norway have illustrated the terror group’s multi-country scope.

Al-Qaida keeps its plots compartmentalized, and officials do not believe the suspects in Norway knew about the other cells involved.

The Norwegian and U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.

The officials said it was unclear whether the men in Norway had perfected the bomb-making recipe, but Janne Kristiansen, head of the country’s Police Security Service, said, “According to our evaluation, the public has never been at risk.”

Al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, has called in the past for attacks on Norway.

Magnus Norell, a terrorism expert at the Swedish Defence Research Agency, said Norway’s 500 troops in Afghanistan could have been a factor, as could a 2006 controversy that arose after a Danish newspaper’s publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that enraged Muslims.

It was unclear whether the trio had selected a specific target in Norway, but the alleged plot already had played a role in Norway’s decision to raise its terror alert level last year.

“The threat of terrorism in Norway was generally low in 2009. However, certain groups are engaged in activities that could quickly change the threat level in 2010,” Norway’s Police Security Service wrote in February.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged Thursday that statement was referring, at least in part, to the al-Qaida plot.

The three captured men, whose names were not released, had been under surveillance for more than a year as the FBI and CIA worked with Norwegian authorities.

“The FBI worked closely with our law enforcement partners in England and Norway throughout the investigation,” FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said.

Two suspects were arrested in Norway. A third was captured in Germany, where he was vacationing, the Frankfurt general prosecutor’s office said.

Norway’s Police Security Service said the arrests made in Norway took place in the Oslo area. Kristiansen said all three men “had connections to Oslo.”

Those arrested in Norway included a 39-year-old Norwegian of Uighur origin who has lived in the country since 1999 and a 31-year-old citizen of Uzbekistan who had a permanent Norwegian residency permit, Kristiansen said. The man arrested in Germany was a 37-year-old Iraqi with a Norwegian residency permit, he said. German authorities were preparing to extradite him to Norway.

The Uighur travelled to Pakistan’s lawless tribal region of Waziristan around the same time as Najibullah Zazi, one of the would-be New York bombers, but the two did not attend the same training camp or meet, a U.S. official said.

The Associated Press learned of the investigation in recent weeks and approached U.S. and Norwegian officials. Authorities told the AP that reporting on the case could jeopardize public safety and allow dangerous suspects to go free. The AP agreed not to report on the investigation until arrests were made.

“AP’s knowledge of the case was only one of several factors that was taken into consideration when deciding on the timing of the arrests,” Police Security Service spokesman Trond Hugubakken said. “It was not the decisive factor.”

U.S. and Norwegian counterterrorism officials worked together to unravel the Norwegian plot, officials said. Kristiansen travelled to the U.S. this spring to discuss closely held intelligence gathered in the case.

The arrests brought strong media attention in Norway, and Stoltenberg urged Norwegians not to racially profile.

“These are separate individuals that are responsible for criminal acts,” Stoltenberg said. “It is always bad to judge a whole group of people from what individuals are doing and that is independently of what group these people belong to.”

In an indictment unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn, prosecutors added several al-Qaida figures to the New York case, including Adnan Shukrijumah, a most-wanted terrorist. The U.S. is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.

Shukrijumah, one of the al-Qaida leaders in charge of plotting attacks worldwide, was directly involved in recruiting and plotting the New York attack, prosecutors said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that was administered to seniors, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. A second COVID-19 vaccine is being investigated for possible links to blood clots, though the syndrome appears to be extremely rare. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rogelio V. Solis
Canada receives report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

OTTAWA — A Quebec woman is the first in Canada to develop… Continue reading

Premier Jason Kenney struck back at unruly protesters who chanted ‘lock her up’ in relation to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Monday. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Alberta Premier calls for ‘unhinged conspiracy theorists’ to stop threatening the chief medical officer

Spreading misinformation, making threats is ‘beyond the pale,’ said Kenney

An internal investigation by AHS revealed 3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly by two clerical employees in the diagnostic imaging department at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Employees access 3K patients’ records in privacy breach at Red Deer hospital

3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly

The Red Deer Boxing Club will be moving to a larger space, in North Red Deer. The programs need more room to grow, says founder Robert Carswell. (Photo by LANA MICHELIn/Advocate staff).
Red Deer Boxing Club is moving to north industrial site

The property was rezoned to accommodate recreational uses

An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Air Canada agrees to $5.9-billion aid package, giving Ottawa equity stake in airline

$1.4 billion earmarked to help reimburse thousands of customers

An emergency response worker carries an air monitoring device at the site of a crude oil spill at a Trans Mountain Pipeline pump station in Abbotsford, on Sunday, June 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Failed fitting caused 190,000-litre spill at Trans Mountain site in B.C.: TSB

VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board report says the failure of a… Continue reading

Ottawa
Indigenous leaders, experts urge Ottawa to quickly pass UNDRIP bill before election

OTTAWA — Indigenous leaders and legal experts are pushing federal lawmakers to… Continue reading

Visitors to a roadside memorial pay their respects in Portapique, N.S., on Friday, April 24, 2020. The Canadian Red Cross confirmed today it has collected $6.2 million in donations to help the families in rural Nova Scotia affected by the mass shooting last spring that claimed 22 lives. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Red Cross collects $6.2 million for families affected by Nova Scotia mass shooting

HALIFAX — Canadians and people from around the world donated $6.2 million… Continue reading

Hindu devotees wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus stand in a queue to offer prayers inside a temple dedicated to goddess Kali in Jammu, India, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. New infections have surged in the past month and India has now reported over 13.6 million cases — pushing its toll past Brazil, and making it second only to the United States. In the past 24 hours, over 160,000 new infections have been detected and experts fear that the worst is yet to come. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Johnson & Johnson delays shot rollout in Europe

BERLIN — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of… Continue reading

Restaurant workers and restaurant delivery workers wait in line to sign up for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine site, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of New York. The mobile vaccination effort includes two buses equipped with four to six vaccinators each, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine directly to communities most in need. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose… Continue reading

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

FILE - Rhian Wilkinson, left, and Melissa Tancredi of Canada’s women’s soccer team attend a news conference in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 to announce their retirement from the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson now part of England coaching setup

Wilkinson left Canada Soccer in January to join interim England head coach Hege Riise as an assistant

Canadian actor/producer/director Jay Baruchel is photographed at the 5 Drive-In Theatre in Oakville, Ont., ahead of the premier of Baruchel’s movie Random Acts of Violence, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Jay Baruchel to host Amazon Prime Video’s ‘LOL: Last One Laughing Canada’

Final comedian left standing wins a grand prize for a charity of their choice

Most Read