Russian intelligence “biggest threat” PST says
PST believes the Federation’s espionage poses the greatest danger to Norway
“The two states which Norway has no security policy cooperation with, and that also have the largest intelligence capacity by far, are Russia and China. Of these, we consider Russian intelligence to possess the greatest potential for damaging Norwegian interests. The most serious intelligence activities in 2015 will be directed against Norway’s ability to protect the country and political decision-making,” says Benedicte Bjørnland, Police Security Service director.
Bjørnland makes her comments in the PST’s Annual Threat Assessment release. Security personnel say they expect the negative threat situation to continue this year.
Four notable incidents involving both unknown and foreign powers have occurred recently. The first regarded potential espionage. Mobile spying equipment was discovered in Oslo before Christmas 2014. This prompted investigations by Norway’s security agencies and calls for updating the network from the telecoms authority. Shocked MPs also demanded action.
The Norwegian Air Force has also been tested. Last week saw two F-16s scrambled in order to identify a fleet of six Russian aircraft, one of which was carrying an unarmed nuclear missile. The Russians subsequently denied the payload was aboard.
Russian fighter jets were also identified flying close to Norwegian air territory, with another incident seeing one Norwegian F-16 pilot having to take evasive action to avoid a potential midair collision.
Iran is expected to continue to be “the main player behind illegal procurement activities to support the production of weapons of mass destruction,” says Bjørnland.
The director also views Islamist extremism as a threat, both at home and abroad. Security personnel warned the public of a potential terror threat against Norway last summer. Five people were arrested in May with suspected links to ISIL.
“There are active extreme Islamist groups in Norway that attract new followers and recruit foreign fighters. Norway is an enemy for several of these. Norwegian military participation against ISIL and al-Qaeda (AQ) will help to reinforce this enemy image,” Bjørnland comments.
“People inside and outside the known extreme Islamist groups, as well as many without foreign war experience, sympathize with ISIL and AQ. Calls by ISIL and AQ for retaliation and terrorist incidents in Western countries could influence individuals to carry out acts of violence in Norway.”
She does not believe that Norway’s Extreme-Left or -Right groups will pose a significant threat to society in 2015. However, any potential threat will be connected to individuals capable of acting alone or in small groups.
“Increased activity in certain local Extreme-Right groups is expected. This is mainly due the influence of Right-Wing extremists abroad. Preventive countermeasures by police and other local stakeholders are essential to prevent the emergence of large organized milieus,” states Bjørnland.
It also appeared in the Feb. 13, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.