Tags: Norway | Prevented | U.S. | Israel | Embassy | Bomb | Plot

Norway Prevented U.S., Israel Embassy Bomb Plot

Friday, 22 September 2006 12:00 AM

OSLO, Norway -- Norwegian prosecutors unveiled on Friday evidence against four men detained on suspicion of plotting to blow up the U.S. and Israeli embassies and of participating in a shooting at the Oslo synagogue last weekend.

Prosecutor Unni Fries told a court the Norwegian secret services had bugged the car of the main suspect and recorded conversations between the men planning the attacks.

"They spoke in detail about how to attack the synagogue and the U.S. and Israeli embassies," Fries said, asking the court to detain all four suspects for four weeks without visitors or other contact with the outside world.

Early on Sunday morning at least 10 shots fired from an automatic weapon hit Oslo's only synagogue. No one was hurt in the shooting, the most serious in a string of attacks in recent months on the Nordic country's small Jewish community.

Fries said the main suspect was also taped as saying he wanted to use explosives to blow up the synagogue because such an attack could be more deadly than a drive-by shooting.

Police have identified the detainees only as men between the ages of 20 and 30. Defence lawyers, who said their clients were innocent, said one suspect was of Turkish origin, two had Pakistani backgrounds and one was a native Norwegian.

Fries said the main suspect had "expressed extreme Islamist views" and was briefly detained during this summer's World Cup by German police, who found drawings of rockets in his car.

During a trip to Britain in June he was reported to have told his girlfriend over the telephone that he "felt that he had to act", Fries said. She did not say whether prosecutors were linking the suspects with any extremist organisation.

The defence said evidence did not directly link their clients to the synagogue shooting and asked the court to release the suspects. The court will announce its decision on Saturday.

"The charge is based on circumstantial, not hard evidence," John Christian Elden, the lawyer of the main suspect, told reporters. "My client expressed frustration . . . about the situation in the Middle East. He has freedom of speech and freedom of religion like everybody else in this country."

The U.S. embassy said in a statement it was watching developments closely. It was not immediately clear if the Norwegians tipped off U.S. or Israeli officials of the threat.

"We are deeply concerned about the emerging information on these planned terrorist attacks," ambassador Ben Whitney said. "This situation reflects the importance of having the necessary legal tools to prevent terrorism."

The four men could face jail terms of up to 12 years if convicted of conspiring to carry out acts of terror.

(c) Reuters 2006. All rights reserved.

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OSLO, Norway -- Norwegian prosecutors unveiled on Friday evidence against four men detained on suspicion of plotting to blow up the U.S. and Israeli embassies and of participating in a shooting at the Oslo synagogue last weekend. Prosecutor Unni Fries told a court the...
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2006-00-22
Friday, 22 September 2006 12:00 AM
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