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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 May, 2003, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Norway shocked by 'al-Qaeda' threat
By Lars Bevanger
BBC, Oslo

The Norwegian authorities are struggling to come up with a clear reason why Norway should have been included in a threat attributed to the al-Qaeda network broadcast on Al-Jazeera television on Wednesday.

The hope of the authorities was that al-Qaeda simply got their geography wrong and did not mean to threaten Norway at all
The threat from what is said to be the al-Qaeda network has baffled authorities and people here alike.

Analysts are struggling to come up with any reasons why Norwegian embassies and interests abroad should be singled out for attacks from Muslim fundamentalists.

Norway has traditionally been seen as a peacemaker in the Middle East and the country protested against the war in Iraq.

The government has also been critical of aspects of Washington's declared war on terror.

Awaiting instructions

One possible reason which has been put forward is the presence of Norwegian special forces in Afghanistan, but this is a small force and other countries have a much more pronounced presence there.

Norway's diplomatic efforts in the Middle East is considered a welcome activity by most of the Arab world and not a root cause for Muslim anger.

The threat is being taken seriously, however, and Norwegian interests abroad are awaiting instructions from Oslo about any possible extra security measures to be taken.

The hope of the authorities, as expressed by one diplomat, was that al-Qaeda simply got their geography wrong and did not mean to threaten Norway at all.

'Al-Qaeda' statement: Full text
21 May 03  |  Middle East


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