APNewsBreak: Europol plans task force for Norway

July 23, 2011 - 12:15 PM

LONDON (AP) — In the wake of Norway's terrorist attack, the European police agency is setting up a task force of more than 50 experts to help northern European countries investigate terrorism, its spokesman told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Soeren Pedersen said the group, which is based in The Hague, hopes to help Norway and nearby countries in their investigations in the coming weeks. He said Norway has not requested forensic experts but that Europol could provide some if needed.

"There is no doubt that the threat from Islamist terrorism is still valid," he said. "But there have actually been warnings that (right-wing groups) are getting more profesisonal, more aggressive in the way they attract others to their cause."

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, European countries have viewed Islamic terrorism as the primary threat. But the fact the suspect in Friday's twin attacks turned out to be a Norwegian with right-wing views is raising questions about whether homegrown, non-Islamic terror threats have been neglected.

The alleged assailant was identified by Norway's national broadcaster as Anders Behring Breivik, 32; police would not confirm his identity because he has not been formally charged.

Authorities say he posted comments on Christian fundamentalist websites and reportedly held right-wing, anti-Muslim views. He was also once a member of the youth wing of a rightist party.

In leaked diplomatic cables dating back to 2008, U.S. diplomats warned that Norway seemed complacent about terror threats and criticized gaps in intelligence. The cables released by Wikileaks also give a snapshot of simmering anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic tensions in Norway.