Analysts' view: Bomb and shooting in Norway

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 22, 2011 6:18 PM
Analysts' view: Bomb and shooting in Norway

(Reuters) - A gunman killed at least nine people at a youth camp of Norway's governing Labour Party on Friday, just hours after a bomb ripped through the central government district in Oslo, killing seven.

Following are analysts' comments on the attacks, which police said were linked.

JAKUB GODZIMIRSKI, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW AT NORWEGIAN

INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Godzimirski said the attacks were more likely the work of a right-winger than Islamist militants.

"It would be very odd for Islamists to have a local political angle. The attack on the Labour youth meeting suggests it's something else. If Islamists wanted to attack, they could have set off a bomb in a nearby shopping mall rather than a remote island.

"This attack has more in common with the Oklahoma City bombing than an Islamist attack."

JONATHAN PARIS, INTERNATIONAL Center FOR THE STUDY OF

RADICALISATION, KING'S COLLEGE LONDON

"We do know that al Qaeda would have a motive to do this...but beyond that we don't have any evidence at this time that there's a definite link to al Qaeda," he told Britain's Sky News. But the attacks could also be the work of "homegrown right-wing zealots."

JUSTIN CRUMP, CEO, SIBYLLINE LTD, LONDON

"This was a pretty well planned and executed attack. It's very clearly aimed at the heart of the political establishment," he told Al Jazeera.

Crump said the near simultaneous attacks against the NATO member were almost certainly linked to its involvement in Afghanistan and pointed to militant Islamists "seeking a propaganda victory by trying to force Norway to withdraw from the alliance."

"It appears to me very much that this is the work of al Qaeda or an al Qaeda-linked group."

SAJJAN GOHEL, ASIA-PACIFIC FOUNDATION

"What was the ideological motivation, was it local or trans-national? Norwegian nationals have traveled abroad for terrorist training and in the past there have been linkages to Iraq, the Central Asian republics and Xinjiang in China.

"An attack in Norway followed by failed plots in Sweden in December 2010 and against the (Danish) Jyllands-Posten newspaper highlight that Scandinavian countries are in the firing line for terrorist activities. It seems no longer a factor that countries like Norway and Sweden are immune from terrorism because of their neutral foreign policies."

RAPHAEL PERL, HEAD OF ACTION AGAINST TERRORISM UNIT,

Organization FOR SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE

"It's too early to make a definitive statement. But what I can say is that this reinforces the fact that no country is immune from the threat of terrorism."

LILIT GEVORGYAN, IHS GLOBAL INSIGHT

"The most likely suspects are al-Qaeda-linked or inspired groups, including radical Kurdish group Ansar Al-Islam. As the news continues trickling in from Utoeya, however, right-wing extremist groups or even a lone perpetrator with army training or access to ammunition and weaponry could be behind the plot...

"Although details of the blast remain limited and no claims of responsibility have been made, initial attention has focused on the possibility of Islamist terrorism. The Norwegian Police Security Service has previously identified such a threat, highlighting it as the biggest threat to Norwegian security in a report released in March. The risk to Norway from Islamist terrorism stems from the country's strong alliance with the United States and NATO, as well as its role in military operations in Iraq during 2003-06 and its ongoing involvement in Afghanistan. Norway has also been heavily involved in the ongoing NATO air operation over Libya.

"Certain elements of the Oslo blast are not consistent with attacks undertaken by Jihadist groups, most notably the timing of the attack. It took place at a time and date when the majority of Norwegians are on holiday and the government district is relatively quiet, which would suggest the perpetrators were not aiming at inflicting the highest number of civilian casualties. This raises the possibility that others may be responsible. One potential could be extreme far-right groups, which enjoy a relatively high degree of support within certain sections of Norwegian society. Such groups, however, have not previously been responsible for any major attacks in Norway, or even Scandinavia as a whole. In recent years, most of these extremist groups have been dismantled by the police. There is also a strong possibility that a lone figure or small group of individuals with probable links with the disbanded extremist groups may have sought to target the Labour-led coalition government specifically. The existence of a conscription system in Norway for the reserve Home Guard has given many experience of use with weaponry, and potentially also explosives."

(Reporting by William Maclean and Wojciech Moskwa, Editing by Mark Trevelyan)