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TERRORISM

Al-Qaeda’s Norwegian ‘was left-wing radical’

A Norwegian jihadist thought to have received Al-Qaeda training in Yemen was previously a left-wing radical who refused to believe that Osama Bin Laden’s network carried out the September 11th terrorist attacks, a newspaper said.

The 33-year-old Norwegian now being hunted by a slew of international intelligence agencies associated in his youth with Oslo’s far-left Blitz movement, newspaper Dagbladet reports.

Despite his one-time radical credentials, he later worked as a child minder at a daycare centre in Oslo, the city where he was born and raised, and did not have a history of violence, the paper said.

He eventually became a member of the Green Party, according to the newspaper.

A source close to the suspect said he came to be viewed as an easily-led conspiracy theorist after the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001.

His ideological priorities shifted after he married the daughter of a diplomat from a North African country, the paper said.

In 2008, he converted to Islam. He then underwent a change of lifestyle, giving up alcohol and breaking off almost all contact with his earlier friends.

He recently became a father, Dagbladet said, adding that his wife had travelled to her home country with their child.

Peter Neumann, a Professor of Security Studies at King’s College in London, said it was “not surprising” that the terrorist-in-waiting had sympathized with groups on the far-left.

“Converts are often on the look-out for something to which they can dedicate themselves, and they like to experiment with radical environments. They seek out a strong ideology that gives them meaning and structure,” Neumann said.

“In Norway, converting to Islam is probably one of the most rebellious things you can do,” he added.

Neumann further noted that western converts, aside from women who converted when marrying Muslim men, were overrepresented among jihadists.

The Sunday Times said Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had recruited the Norwegian Muslim convert and given him terrorist training in Yemen, and that the group were believed to have selected a US passenger jet as a target.

"The Norwegian recruit goes under the Islamic name of Muslim Abu Abdurrahman," the newspaper said.

He recently spent several months in Yemen to complete his training, the paper said.

Intelligence services in Norway last week said the 33-year-old remained in Yemen and cannot be extradited as it is not a crime under Norwegian law to attend a terrorist training camp.

Sources from three European intelligence agencies told The Associated Press, which broke the story, that the man was “operational” and ready to strike.

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BREAKING

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

Prosecutors in Sweden are now treating the murder at the Almedalen political festival as a terror crime, with the country's Säpo security police taking over the investigation.

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

In a press release issued on Monday evening, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said that the 32-year-old attacker, Theodor Engström, was now suspected of the crime of “terrorism through murder”, and also “preparation for a terror crime through preparation for murder”. 

Engström stabbed the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren last Wednesday as she was on her way to moderate a seminar at the Almedalen political festival on the island of Gotland. 

Although he was a former member of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, police said his motive seemed to be to protest against Sweden’s psychiatry services, who he felt had treated his own mental illness badly. 

The release gave no details as to why the 32-year-old was now being investigated for a more serious crime, but terror expert Magnus Ranstorp told the Expressen newspaper that the shift indicated that police had uncovered new evidence. 

READ ALSO: What do we now know about the Almedalen knife attack? 

“The new crime classification means that they’ve either found a political motive for the attack which meets the threshold for terrorism, and that might be a political motive for murdering Ing-Marie Wieselgren,” he said. “Or they might have discovered that he was scouting out a politician, or another target that could be considered political.” 

Engström’s defence lawyer said last week that his client, who he described as disturbed and incoherent, had spoken in police interrogations of having “a higher-up target”. 

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