The PST completely ignored the possibility that Islamists could commit terror against the Pride celebrations, but had a “high awareness” of possible threats from the far right.
This can be seen from the evaluation report that was presented on Thursday by the committee that has investigated the handling of the police security service and the police service before, during and after the attack on 25 June.
This is startling information. Political correctness in PST has affected the professional quality of the agency’s work and may have led to the loss of human life. This must be followed very carefully, says leader of the justice committee, Per-Willy Amundsen (FrP), to Document.
There was a high awareness of possible threats to Pride among the PST employees who work with threats from right-wing extremists, the report states:
Therefore, a separate collection task related to the Pride celebration was also prepared in which PST requested information on which far-right actors had the intention and/or capacity to commit violence against Pride events or participants at Pride events.
Why no interest in Islamists?
Parts of PST’s counter-terrorism department were very aware of the Pride events and the public debates that were taking place, it is further stated.
At the same time, one can wonder why PST did not set out a corresponding collection task for any threats against Pride events and/or participants from extreme Islamists?
The report reveals that PST had hardly any awareness of the Islamist milieu’s hatred of queers prior to the Pride celebrations in Oslo. In return, the agency was very concerned about possible threats from the far right.
The PST’s preoccupation with the threat from right-wing extremists described in the report, that the corresponding lack of awareness of the threat from Islamists, agrees well with what happened nine days before the terrorist act, when the security service downgraded the threat level for Islamist terror.
Downgraded the Islamist threat
On 16 June, nine days before the terror in Rosenkrantz’ street, the Police’s security service published an updated assessment of the terrorist threat against Norway, which stated that the danger of Islamist terror had been reduced and that it was less than that from the far right:
PST considers it UNLIKELY, just under 40 percent, that extreme Islamists will attempt to carry out terrorist acts in Norway in the next 18 months.
After the attack, then PST chief Roger Berg admitted that the violent Islamist circles were beyond the agency’s control.
A large number of people are willing to do the same as the accused terrorist Zaniar Matapour, said Berg on 27 June.
In nine days, Norway went from a low risk of Islamist terror to an “extraordinary threat situation”. In nine days, we went from “unlikely” that Islamists would attempt to carry out terror in Norway, to having a network of violent Islamists that PST admitted it had no control over.
PST’s blind spot
PST believed the threat came from the far right. The Islamists, such as Zaniar Matapour and his co-accused Arfan Bhatti, were in the agency’s blind spot.
This asymmetry in terms of possible threats from Islamists and right-wing extremists, respectively, may have been fatal.
At 1.13 a.m. on 25 June last year, Zaniar Matapour opened fire on the pubs Per på köngert and London pub. Two men were killed, nine people were hit by gunfire and another 25 people were slightly injured. Matapour is charged with murder with terrorist intent.
PST considers the mass shooting to be an extreme Islamist terrorist act. If quick-witted, courageous civilians had not intervened resolutely, it could have developed into one of the deadliest attacks against civilians in Europe in many years, emphasised Pia Therese Jansen, head of the evaluation committee, when she presented the evaluation.
Invited Matapour to lunch during Ramadan
The report mentions that PST the day before Ramadan asked Matapour if he wanted to meet for lunch one day during Ramadan. At this point, they had already met Matapour once, and concluded that more meetings were necessary to build trust.
The report notes laconically that it “may […] appear as somewhat inconsiderate that one in PST invites what one considers to be an extreme Islamist to lunch in the first week of Ramadan.”
Several PST employees were unaware of the Pride celebration, it turned out.
Another and more serious example is that PST was not sufficiently aware of the ongoing pride celebrations in Norway when PST was made aware on the afternoon of Friday 24 June that Bhatti had posted a burning pride flag on one of their Facebook accounts. Several PST employees with whom the committee has had conversations say they were not aware of the ongoing celebration. However, PST as an organisation must have had a major focus on pride through various awareness-raising measures. In this connection, the committee has requested all analyses and assessments that were made by PST in connection with pride, as queer people are included as enemy images with several of the threat actors that PST works with.
From this aspect, it emerges that those in PST who work at an operational level with threats from the far right had a high awareness of this issue. Therefore, a separate collection task related to the Pride celebration was also prepared in which PST requested information on which far-right actors had the intention and/or capacity to commit violence against Pride events or participants at Pride events. PST’s justification for the task was as follows.
PRIDE is organised nationally, with a number of large and small events. The biggest is OSLO PRIDE (18–27 JUNE), and more than 50,000 people are expected in the Oslo parade on 25 JUNE. LGBTQ+ is part of the far-right enemy image and is included in a number of conspiracy theories with the potential for violence. PRIDE is, by extension, considered an institutionalisation and celebration of this.
Based on LGBTQ+’s place in the far-right enemy image, there is potential for politically motivated violence against Pride events or participants at Pride events. In the Norwegian media, Pride has been a hot topic in debates this year, especially in light of the participation of school children in the PRIDE parade. In addition, the debate around transgender rights has been limited. There is uncertainty related to whether debate in the general population lowers or possibly increases violent intent among far-right actors.
Asked for priority
The so-called acquisition task, where PST asked for information about which far-right actors had the potential for violence, was considered so important that it was requested to be prioritised, the report describes:
There was also a request for increased prioritisation for this collection task, which was also granted at the national prioritisation meeting. This shows that parts of PST’s counter-terror department had a high awareness of the pride events and the public debates that took place. At the same time, one can wonder why PST did not set out a corresponding collection task for any threats against pride events and/or participants from extreme Islamists?
The report concludes that “The most likely answer to this question is that PST did not consider queerness to be such a central part of the threat picture of extreme Islamists that it was likely that they would carry out attacks against them.”
Oslo police district in line with PST
The Oslo police district was completely in line with PST, in the sense that they were fully focused on the far-right and were blind to the threat from Islamists.
PST’s assessments “are in many ways also in line with the Oslo Police District’s own assessment ahead of Oslo Pride, which, in the same way as PST, highlights threats from the far right, but not from extreme Islamists”, says the report, which refers to a threat assessment Oslo police district prepared in connection with Oslo Pride, dated 14 June 2022.
At the same time, it has long been known both to PST and others who follow extreme Islamism, such as researchers and journalists, that queer people are part of the image of the enemy of extreme Islamists. Therefore, the committee believes that PST’s lack of attention to the ongoing Pride marking when they were made aware of Bhatti’s Facebook post is reprehensible.
This is sensational. This information must be verified very carefully, says Per-Willy Amundsen.
Could PST’s blindness to the potential for Islamist violence have led to two deaths and nine injuries on 25 June?
Yes, we cannot rule out that it is part of the reason why human life was lost. This is terrifying. It is frightening to see that political correctness has apparently had an impact on the quality of the work PST carries out. We can’t have it like this. It is probably uncomfortable for some to point out the fact that radical Islam is a problem, but it cannot be the case that the Islamist circles are not followed up as closely as others who represent a potential risk.
The evaluation committee’s report confirms a suspicion he already had, says the former justice minister.
Yes, this is not new, we have seen it over time in PST’s communication. What is more surprising, as the report confirms, is that this attitude has also affected PST’s professional work. And which ultimately has life and death consequences.
How would you describe the severity of PST’s neglect as described in the report?
Neglect is a good word. It’s a serious neglect, it’s just work, and it’s up for grabs. With the conclusion in hand, it is quite obvious that they should have followed up the Islamist circles.
Painful and unforgivable
It wasn’t completely unknown, either to PST or others, that Islamists have a strong aversion to the queer environment?
It was by no means a secret. This is something everyone knows, and which it is obvious that PST should also be familiar with. It is completely incomprehensible, the only thing that can explain this phase is that PST has chosen to act politically correct.
What is incredible, painful and unforgivable is that this political correctness now also seems to have affected PST’s professional work, their follow-up of the various environments they are supposed to monitor, and that is serious, says Per-Willy Amundsen.