• Sweden's news in English

Swedish expert slams Norway terror alert

The Local/sr · 28 Jul 2014, 17:01

Published: 28 Jul 2014 17:01 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Sweden has started scratching its head about Norway's methods of handling a recent threat.

"It created unnecessary anxiety in Norway,"  Magnus Ranstorp, terrorist expert at the Swedish National Defence College, told The Local. 

Norway has been on high-powered, ultra-defensive tip-toe for the past few days, since its intelligence service (PST) said last Thursday that it suspected an "imminent" terror attack.

"Was it necessary? There are some critical questions we don’t know the answer to," Ranstorp mused. "How close was the threat, was it an inevitable trajectory, and how much of it could they control? And we don’t know any of that because the story keeps on changing."

Ranstorp said that both Sweden and Denmark have gone public about terror threats before, but generally only the threat is under control and the suspect has been clearly identified.

"That's apparently not the case here."

The threat was described as "credible" but "unspecific", but the PST admitted that it did not know who was behind the threat, nor where or how any attack might be carried out.

Since then airspace has been blocked, football tournaments disrupted, and museums closed in preparation for the attack. Nuclear plants were shut down and border control checks increased. 

Ranstorp said that the PST deserved praise for its openness - but not its timing.

"In order to maintain faith and credibility, they need to be as transparent as possible," Ranstorp said. "But it should be done restrictively, and not without good grounds. The Golden Rule is that the more they go public, the less they know."

Following the initial report on Thursday, Norwegian TV reported on Saturday that there was good cause to suspect the attack would take place on Monday. On Sunday agencies backed off, saying that indeed it may not be Monday - but that they still suspect an attack. The situation was unchanged on Monday.

"The 22nd of July was a sort of complete intelligence failure, and they took the safe road. It’s understandable," Ranstorp told The Local.

"But we can be a bit critical of their level of response. There didn’t seem to be any clarity. One day they raised the level, the next they say it’s coming, the next they drop it again."

Ranstorp said the nation could not continue indefinitely with such measures, as the drama has already hit hard on the Norwegian economy through lost tourism profits and overwhelming security costs - not to mention the potential impact on society.

"One of the big problems when you go out strong like this is that you not only create public anxiety, but it can also create terrorism in society," Ranstorp told The Local.  

Story continues below…

"You have to make sure that if there is a general sort of threat like this that people stand together, with community leaders, to mitigate the long term effect."

Former Danish Security (PET) director Hans-Jørgen Bonnichsen has also criticized Norway's behaviour, calling the Norwegian police's reactions a "victory for the terrorists" in newspaper Berlingske.

Ranstorp  disagreed – but did say an assessment would be needed to determine whether such measures had been appropriate.

"There needs to be an assessment, or Norway will be like a yo-yo with security, going up and down, up and down, and over time it will become meaningless. So you really have to reserve this extreme level of security for very severe situations."

On Monday evening the PST announced that they would be lowering the threat level on Tuesday another step - but that the nation is still armed and prepared for an attack. 

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local/sr (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Prime Minister to meet Swedish troops in Iraq
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Kurdish counterpart Nechervan Barzani. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Löfven is set to meet Swedish troops in Iraq on Tuesday.

Swedish politicians wage war on winter time
Soon it will look like this on your way home from work in Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Should Sweden stick with summer time all year round?

'Don't turn the Pope into a global teddy bear'
Sweden's Queen Silvia and Princess Leonore visiting Pope Francis in the Vatican last year. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

It's time to hold the Pope to account and make sure he turns his words about reform into action, argues a minister of the Swedish Church ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Sweden.

Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Should Swedes think fairtrade with porn? Photo: Karin Malmhav/SvD/TT

A fairtrade attitude to pornography would be beneficial, Sweden's health minister told The Local.

Presented by Stockholm University
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Nordic fashion took centre stage in the Swedish capital last week as Stockholm University hosted the “first-ever” academic conference looking at luxury and sustainability in the fashion industry.

Referee, coach and parents in Swedish youth football fight
File photo of a referee holding a red card not related to the story. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

A football dad broke his leg in the brawl in front of 11-year-old kids after a Hammarby youth football game.

Illicit abattoir kept more than 100 bulls' penises
A couple of young bulls not related to the story. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Dried cattle genitalia, goats' heads and hundreds of litres of lard were just a few of the many strange finds discovered when police raided a property in Sweden.

This is officially Sweden's most beautiful beard
The most beautiful beard in Sweden. Photo: Memo Göcek

According to a jury of barbers and 'well known bearded profiles', that is.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm

You might think it’s hard to make friends in a new city. But if at first you don’t succeed – try something else!

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available