From Iceland — Terrorist Suspects: Possible Far-Right Ties; Justice Minister Proposes Pre-Emptive Investigations

Terrorist Suspects: Possible Far-Right Ties; Justice Minister Proposes Pre-Emptive Investigations

Published September 23, 2022

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Rebecca Conway

Yesterday’s arrest of four Icelandic men in their twenties, two of whom are still in custody, on suspicion of conspiring to commit a terrorist act has brought a swift response from the government. Amongst those responses is the re-introduction of creating “pre-emptive investigation” powers for the police.

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As reported, the men in question had reportedly been manufacturing firearms using 3D printing technology. In raids in both Kopavogur and Mosfellsbær last Wednesday, police seized dozens of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Police said at a press conference yesterday they had been investigating these men for weeks, and that the suspects were planning to attack certain government offices. They added that they are still investigating whether these men have ties to extremist groups abroad.

Sources close to Stundin say the men are linked to Nordic far-right extremist groups. In addition, sources close to Morgunblaðið say that police found “fanatical propaganda” during their search of the locations where the men were arrested that idolised child killer and far-right terrorist Anders Breivik and other extremists of that nature.

Pre-emptive investigations?

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson said that while the matter was shocking, he praised the police for their careful investigations and swift response.

He added, however, that this case underlined the importance of passing a law that would allow police to conduct so-called “pre-emptive investigations”. This is a controversial measure, that Parliament has rejected in the past, which would give the police the power to begin investigations of individuals before they are suspected of committing or conspiring to commit a crime. He said that such legislation is “exactly what is called for”.

Still a free society

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir also praised the police, saying that this case underlined the importance of supporting them materially.

“I want to emphasise that it makes a tremendous difference that the police have the means to confront this,” she said. “They certainly showed that they are capable.”

Katrín said that while it is shocking and sad that a phenomenon seen in other Nordic countries is now a part of Icelandic society, she underlined that Icelandic values have not changed.

“We continue to live in a free society but are aware that things like this can happen,” she said. “This is of course especially complicated because in this instance it wasn’t about weapons smuggled into the country but weapons made domestically with legal equipment.”

Other threats unknown

Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir, the national commissioner of the police, said that while no one can be well enough prepared for a potential terrorist attack, proper training and an established plan of action made all the difference in preventing disaster.

For now, she said, there is no imminent danger of another terrorist plot.

“We don’t know of any other threats right now,” she told RÚV. “It can always change. Then we increase the preparedness plan and take the necessary measures and increase the danger level, but now we are at a low danger level.”

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