OSLO, (Reuters) – Three men were arrested in Norway and Germany yesterday on suspicion of plotting attacks and of having links to al Qaeda as well as people under investigation in the United States and Britain, Norwegian police said.
Two of the men were arrested in the Oslo region while Norwegian media said the third man was a Norwegian resident who was detained during a visit to the German city of Duisburg.
“We believe this group has had links to people abroad who can be linked to al Qaeda, and to people who are involved in investigations in other countries, among others the United States and Britain,” said Janne Kristiansen, who heads the Police Security Service (PST).
In Washington, a U.S. official, who declined to be identified, said his government believed an al Qaeda operative, Saleh al-Somali, had had “a hand” in the plot before he was killed in a drone strike late last year. “He had a role in conjuring it up,” the official said, declining to elaborate. Somali was described by a U.S. counter-terrorism official at the time that his death was reported as a senior planner in al Qaeda’s core leadership.
Kristiansen did not give details of the plot nor say which country might have been the target of a planned attack. Norway, which has troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO-led mission, has never had an al Qaeda-led attack on its soil.
She declined to comment on whether there was a link to arrests in the United States and Britain.
On Wednesday, the United States charged five men with plotting to bomb New York City’s subway system and attack an unidentified target in Britain under orders from al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan.