Scandinavia Next Terror Target?

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 19, 2006 | Go to article overview

Scandinavia Next Terror Target?


Byline: Yonah Alexander, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A popular Swedish proverb observes that "it is not the fault of one that two quarrel." This truism is increasingly reflected in the apparent deterioration of the security situation in Scandinavia, a region traditionally successful in adopting neutral positions during military conflicts, thereby guaranteeing relative peace.

Tragically, immunity protection for uninvolved third parties under international law seems no longer relevant in the post-September 11, 2001, era. Indeed, in the eyes of contemporary Jihadist terrorists, who advocate a Muslim holy war against infidels, there are no innocent communities and countries. Moreover, political and judicial distinctions between combatants and noncombatants are now obliterated by projecting brutal state and nonstate illegal force.

It is only a matter of time, therefore, before Denmark, Norway and Sweden are seriously targeted by both international and homegrown terrorist networks. Admittedly, prior to September 11, this region had only faced low-level ideological and political violence. Foreign terrorists and their indigenous sympathizers and supporters have exploited the benefits of the Scandinavian open liberal democracies with their modern infrastructure offerings. These enlightened and sophisticated systems enabled substate perpetrators in the name of "higher principles" to engage in propaganda activities, secure safe-havens, raise funds, purchase weapons, provide logistical support and mount rather primitive operations against selected adversaries within the region.

Between the 1960s and 1990s, several dozen terrorist incidents were recorded. These attacks included targeting primarily foreign embassies and diplomats, airline offices, businesses, as well as domestic religious institutions. The motivations of the terrorists involved were mostly political, related to conflicts involving Yugoslavia, India, South Africa, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, Israel and the Soviet Union (later Russia).

Since September 11, Scandinavia's potential victimization has become more critical than ever before. Two major reasons account for this inevitable eventuality. The apparent expansion of al Qaeda's international network into the region is the first reason. After all, the stated objective of Osama bin Laden's terrorist worldwide movement is to unite all Muslims from Asia, Africa and Europe in a Shariah form of government that follows the rule of the Caliphs. To achieve this theological-strategic goal, the United States and its Western allies are by definition considered the "enemies of God" and must, therefore, be attacked by as much force as possible, including the utilization of weapons of mass destruction in a Jihad (Holy War) until total victory is achieved.

This Jihadist mindset seeing Scandinavia as the next battlefield in Europe is unmistakably clear. Currently, Denmark provides some 500 troops to the stabilization efforts in Iraq and has also contributed to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, supporting the U.S.-led coalition. In 2005, a Danish publication containing caricatures of the prophet Muhammad set off severe protests against the country, especially in the Middle East, culminating with the attack against the Danish Embassy in Damascus.

Sweden also contributed military assistance in Afghanistan, and its new conservative government openly advocates that Sweden should join its two Scandinavian neighbors in NATO, thus playing a greater role in the U.S. global war on terrorism. Moreover, Norway is now active in Afghanistan after withdrawing its troops from Iraq in October 2005. …

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