Al-Qaida cell targeted Oslo synagogue
Oslo main synagogue
By MICHAEL FREUND
An al-Qaida-linked Algerian terror cell that was broken up by Italian police last fall was planning to carry out attacks on targets in Oslo, Norway, including the city's main synagogue.
Anne Sender, president of Norway's Jewish community, told The Jerusalem Post during a telephone interview from Oslo that local authorities had informed her shortly after the suspects were arrested in November that there existed a credible terrorist threat against the synagogue.
The plot came to light only this week in the wake of a report on Monday in the Norwegian Verdens Gang (VG) newspaper.
"At the time, we were informed by the government that some people had been caught in Italy and that police had found plans indicating that they were targeting the synagogue in Oslo," Sender said.
She added that the threat was considered sufficiently serious that, in its wake, Norwegian police decided to adopt additional, unspecified measures to boost security at the synagogue.
The terrorists, who resided in Italy but were allegedly plotting attacks against sites in Oslo, belonged to an Algerian-based group known as the GSPC, a French acronym which stands for the Salafist Group for Call and Combat.
The GSPC, which has links to al-Qaida, is a splinter faction that broke away from Algeria's Armed Islamic Group in 1996.
Sender praised Norwegian police, but nonetheless expressed concern over the community's security with the approach of the High Holidays.
"To be honest, I do think people are a bit nervous now," she said. "We have good contact and cooperation with the police, but we need to be prepared and to put more security measures in place."
In the past few months, Oslo has been the scene of a number of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist incidents, including an attack on the synagogue last month, where an unknown perpetrator smashed glass windows and scrawled graffiti on the site after defecating near the entrance. "99 percent of the time it is fine, it is safe, and there is no problem at all, but we do have these incidents," added Sender. "Maybe we are a little na ve, but we always seem to think that Norway is separate, that it is different and that it is unaffected by what goes on in the rest of the world."