Norway arrests 3 al Qaeda-linked suspects over plot

(Reuters) – Norwegian police arrested three men on Thursday suspected of planning an attack and having links to al Qaeda and people under investigation in the United States and Britain.

The arrests were brought forward by fears details of the investigation would appear in public, police told Reuters.

“We were afraid evidence would be destroyed, because we knew that an international media organization was about to publish details of the case. That made it urgent to make the arrests,” said Janne Kristiansen, head of the Police Security Service.

Kristiansen earlier told a news conference the three were arrested for “planning a terrorist strike.”

“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,” she said.

One of the men arrested was a 39-year-old Norwegian citizen of Uighur origin. Another was a 37-year-old Iraqi citizen who came to Norway in 1999 and has permanent residency in Norway.

The third man was a 31-year-old Uzbek citizen who also has permanent residency in Norway.

Kristiansen said the terrorism threat to Norway remained minor after the arrests.

“The threat of terrorism in Norway is (generally) low and it is still low,” she told the news conference.