BREAKING NEWS: London: EUROPOL Plans To Establish Anti-Terror Task Force For Northern Europe Countries

23 Jul

This Thursday, July 21, 2011 aerial view shows Utoya Island, Norway. On Friday, July 22, 2011, a man dressed as a police officer opened fire at the island youth camp connected to the ruling party. (AP Photo/Mapaid, Lasse Tur)

This Thursday, July 21, 2011 aerial view shows Utoya Island, Norway. On Friday, July …

OSLO, Norway (AP) — Police say four or five people are still missing after the youth camp massacre in Norway, meaning the death toll could rise from the 85 currently confirmed dead in that shooting.

Seven others died in a bomb blast in Oslo.

Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim said Saturday police are still investigating witness claims that a second shooter was on the island, but have not been able to confirm it.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

OSLO, Norway (AP) — Norwegian police say a gunman fired at youths on an island retreat for 1 1/2 hours before surrendering to police, and that it took them 40 minutes to reach the island after they were called.

That shooting spree came just hours after an explosion at a government building in Oslo on Friday. Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim said Saturday that blast was caused by a car bomb.

At least 87 people were killed on the island.

Another seven died in the earlier bombing

———-

LONDON (AP) — In the wake of Norway’s terrorist attack, the European police agency is setting up a task force of more than 50 experts to help northern European countries investigate terrorism, its spokesman told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Soeren Pedersen said the group, which is based in The Hague, hopes to help Norway and nearby countries in their investigations in the coming weeks. He said Norway has not requested forensic experts but that Europol could provide some if needed.

“There is no doubt that the threat from Islamist terrorism is still valid,” he said. “But there have actually been warnings that (right-wing groups) are getting more profesisonal, more aggressive in the way they attract others to their cause.”

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, European countries have viewed Islamic terrorism as the primary threat. But the fact the suspect in Friday’s twin attacks turned out to be a Norwegian with right-wing views is raising questions about whether homegrown, non-Islamic terror threats have been neglected.

The alleged assailant was identified by Norway’s national broadcaster as Anders Behring Breivik, 32; police would not confirm his identity because he has not been formally charged.

Authorities say he posted comments on Christian fundamentalist websites and reportedly held right-wing, anti-Muslim views. He was also once a member of the youth wing of a rightist party.

In leaked diplomatic cables dating back to 2008, U.S. diplomats warned that Norway seemed complacent about terror threats and criticized gaps in intelligence. The cables released by Wikileaks also give a snapshot of simmering anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic tensions in Norway.

NEWS UPDATE:

The Metropolitan Police have been asked to help the investigation into a massacre in Norway that left at least 93 people dead and more than 90 wounded.

Scotland Yard’s counter terrorism chief, assistant commissioner Cressida Dick, has been requested to supply specialist officers to join a new European task force dedicated to investigating European-wide far right links to a bomb attack in Oslo and a shooting spree on Utoya Island.

Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian man, has admitted carrying out the twin attacks but denies criminal responsibility.

Breivik, who is in police custody, posted a 1,500-page manifesto online before carrying out the killings.

He is believed to have been motivated by extreme right-wing ideology, in particular his hatred of Muslims and anger at Norway’s liberal immigration policy.

The request for specialist British officers to aid the Norway investigation has been made by the European law enforcement agency Europol .

It is drafting in senior counter terrorism experts from a number of European countries to work in its headquarters in The Hague.

Rob Wainwright, Europol’s director of operations said: “As soon as it happened we opened our operational centre to connect the investigation with an international platform of counter terrorism analysts.”

Mr Wainwright admitted the attacks had taken authorities by surprise but denied that was because resources were being channelled into fighting a perceived threat from Islamic extremists.

“It has taken a lot of people by surprise. We’ve been monitoring the right-wing extremists in Europe for many years.

“There is an active scene but until now there has been a fairly low intensity level of violence.”

Mr Wainwright insisted the response from European agencies to the threat of right-wing extremism had been appropriate.

He said five attacks in the last four years had been recorded across Europe and only one arrest of a far right extremist had been made in 2010.

That compared to 180 arrests of suspected Islamic extremists, half of which according to him, had been planning a terrorist attack.

Mr Wainwright added that Friday’s attacks in Norway, if proven to be the work of a far-right extremist or group, were out of character.

“The threat of jihadi terrorism is still out there. It is still a real and substantial threat, but of course at the same time we have to monitor other possible terrorist activities.

“Even early this year Europol issued a report warning about some emerging signs that this community was becoming more professional in its work.

“This was mainly on the internet where they were trying to mobilise a greater community, particularly youngsters using the internet in a more tech savvy

INFO: UPDATE:

Europol
EUROPOL logo.svg
Location

Red Dot.svg
Seat The Hague, Netherlands
Legal authority Treaty on EU Title VI
Council Decision 2009/371/JHA
Signed 1998
Established 1 July 1999
Director Rob Wainwright (UK)
Website europol.europa.eu

Europol (short for European Police Office) is the European Union‘s criminal intelligence agency. It became fully operational on 1 July 1999.

The establishment of Europol was agreed to in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, officially known as the Treaty on European Union (TEU) that came into effect in November 1993. The agency started limited operations on 3 January 1994, as the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU). In 1998 the Europol Convention was ratified by all the member states and came into force in October. Europol commenced its full activities on 1 July 1999.

Europol allocates its resources (625 staff, of these, approximately 120 Europol liaison officers (ELOs)) from its headquarters in The Hague. The size of Europol belies the fact that they are in constant liaison with hundreds of different law enforcement organisations, each with their own individual or group seconded to assist Europol’s activities.

As of 2007, Europol covers all 27 member states of the European Union. In order to fight international organised crime effectively, Europol cooperates with a number of third countries and organisations as follows (in alphabetical order): Albania, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, CEPOL (European Police College), Colombia, Croatia, Eurojust, European Central Bank, European Commission, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Republic of Macedonia, Frontex, Iceland, Interpol, Moldova, Norway, OLAF (European Anti-Fraud Office), Russian Federation, Serbia, Switzerland, SitCen (EU Joint Situation Centre), Turkey, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, USA, World Customs Organisation. The Europol External Strategy defines the framework within which Europol is to develop its activities with regard to third partners.

Europol was reformed as a full EU agency on 1 January 2010. This gave Europol increased powers to collect criminal information and European Parliament more control over Europol activities and budget.[1]

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