Overview: Norway’s law enforcement capacity for proactively detecting, deterring, and preventing acts of terrorism in its territory is strong despite some underfunding issues. Norway is responsive to information requests and postured to prevent acts of terrorism, and its bilateral counterterrorism cooperation is strong. Norway is a supporter and donor to GCERF.
The Police Security Service’s (PST’s) annual threat assessment rated an “even chance,” the third on its five-tier threat scale, that REMVE actors will try to carry out a terrorist attack in Norway. The threat from Islamist terrorists increased to “probable,” its fourth tier, following attacks elsewhere in Europe in October.
2020 Terrorist Incidents: There were no terrorist incidents reported in Norway in 2020.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: It is illegal to conduct or plan to conduct a terrorist attack, receive terrorism-related training, provide material support to a terrorist organization, or travel or intend to travel to fight on behalf of a terrorist organization. The maximum prison sentence is 21 years, after which the convicted person may be placed in a mental health facility as long as the person is deemed a danger to others.
The PST’s activities focus on information collection, threat assessments, and investigations. The civilian police tactical unit responds to terrorist attacks and is on 24-hour standby. An independent investigation into Norway’s handling of a 2019 domestic terror attack on a mosque criticized PST and police coordination, a lack of transparency that a right-wing attack on a Muslim target was highly probable, and the police’s response time.
The Police Department (PD) requires large municipalities and private sector companies that operate hotels, stadia, and public centers to conduct their own risk assessments and contingency planning. Oslo PD conducts its own soft target contingency planning and bolsters security at venues as needed.
After terrorist attacks elsewhere in Europe, the Ministry of Justice in November approved the temporary armament of Norwegian police task forces, which was in effect during the reporting period. Police at Oslo’s Gardermoen International Airport are permanently armed.
Norway shares information on criminal investigations with the EU and the parties to the Prüm Convention. The Norwegian Immigration Database contains biographic data and facial photos for all applicants for admission into Norway. Norwegian passports contain biometric data accessible by border security officials. Norway coordinates with INTERPOL and EUROPOL and has access to suspected terrorist information in the Schengen Information System and the Visa Information System.
The PST estimates 20 out of 200 Norwegian-affiliated individuals who traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight on behalf of ISIS remain in those countries. The PST and the Norwegian Intelligence Service coordinate to identify, track, and take action against Norwegian citizens intending to travel to and from Syria or Iraq to fight for a terrorist group. Norway immediately took into custody a Norwegian-Pakistani woman with known ISIS connections upon her repatriation from the Syrian al-Hol camp in January.
Philip Manshaus received a 21-year sentence for the attempted terrorist attack on a mosque and the racially motivated murder of his stepsister in 2019. The sentence is the maximum allowable and strictest ever given by a Norwegian court. Manshaus must serve 14 years before parole consideration.
Norway extradited a man convicted for leading the ISIS-connected Kurdish Rawti Shax network to Italy after previously denying extradition petitions by Italy, Iraq, and the United States. Norway extradited a man to France who was connected to a 1982 Parisian terrorist bombing attack after originally rejecting France’s 2015 extradition request.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Norway is a member of FATF. Its FIU, the Financial Intelligence Unit Norway, which operates within the National Authority for the Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crimes, is a member of the Egmont Group. The PST economic crimes unit investigates terrorist financing. Norway is also a member of the Defeat-ISIS CIFG.
Norway released its second strategy to combat the financing of terrorism on June 12, following a national risk assessment on terrorist financing. Norway will research a registration system for fundraising organizations under its June 17 Revised Action Plan Against Radicalization and Violent Extremism (APRVE).
The country implements sanctions adopted by UNSC and has largely supported restrictive measures adopted by the EU. Sanctions must be adopted into Norwegian law to be binding on private legal entities in Norway. Sanctions adopted by UNSC are implemented into Norwegian law as a general rule under a 1968 legal framework.
Norwegian authorities arrested and charged a Syrian-Norwegian resident in May with financing terrorism connected to multiple money transfers to an ISIS-connected man in Syria. The trial is pending.
Countering Violent Extremism: The APRVE expands the 2014 plan’s focus on violent extremism, creating a national CVE center, guidelines on caring for children of FTFs, and new methods to reintegrate extremists after prison. A 2020 religious funding law removes funding from groups that practice or give support to violent activities or receive funding from abroad.
Oslo and Kristiansand are members of the Strong Cities Network. Ten cities are part of the Nordic Safe Cities Network.
International and Regional Cooperation: Norway is active in multilateral counterterrorism efforts. The country began its two-year tenure on the UNSC in 2021, during which time it will chair the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Sanctions Committee, the ISIL and al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and will be penholder for issues in Afghanistan and Syria. Norway supports the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism and provides resources support to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali. Norway supports the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund. The country was a member of the troika nations that led the Sudan and South Sudan peace process, along with the United States and Great Britain. Norway also contributes to INTERPOL’s capacity-building programs on border security and rule of law in North Africa and the Sahel. Norway is a strong ally in NATO. It is a member of the EU’s Radicalization Awareness Network, the OSCE, and the Christchurch Call to Action. Norway participates in the Global Counterterrorism Forum Working Group on Capacity-Building in East Africa. Norway provides troop support to Operation Inherent Resolve and NATO Mission Iraq and current has Norwegian Special Forces in the Afghanistan Resolute Support Mission. Norway is a large donor country. It contributed $1.2 million to the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism for the 2018-21 period. Norway earmarked $74 million to Afghanistan and $75 million to Syria in 2021 development assistance. Norway also has provided $213.5 million in humanitarian aid to Iraq since 2010 and provides an annual $7.1 million to Afghan security forces.