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May 18, 2016 7:00 am

Former Al Qaeda Fighter Sought Asylum in Norway as a ‘Refugee’

avatar by Steven Emerson

Middle Eastern migrants in Europe. Photo: Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed via Wikimedia Commons.

Middle Eastern migrants in Europe. Photo: Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed via Wikimedia Commons.

Norwegian police arrested a former Syrian Al Qaeda fighter who sought asylum in Norway, the UK’s Daily Express reports.

Police arrested the 26-year-old man Friday at an asylum center after officers received a search warrant. Anne Karoline, a lawyer representing the Norwegian man, confirmed the arrest but could not provide further details concerning the indictment. Her client admitted to being a former operative of Jabhat al-Nusra — Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria — when he sought asylum in 2015, Karoline said.

The suspect came to Norway with his underage brother and denies any wrongdoing. Norwegian police are trying to keep the former Al Qaeda fighter in custody for a month.

Many critics of Europe’s refugee policy argue that radical jihadist organizations, including the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, could attempt to infiltrate the West by planting operatives among waves of Middle Eastern refugees.

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In a December 2015 white paper, the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) explored gaps in the American immigration system that could enable terrorists to enter the country as refuges, to apply for asylum once in the US, or to enter as passport holders from the 38 countries in the Visa Waiver Program.

Weaknesses in the US system include the tendency to offer refugees and asylum seekers the benefit of the doubt in the accounts of their plight and background; the rapid speed with which lawful permanent resident status is granted to asylees and refugees; the problems that arise concerning refugees who cannot provide documentation of their birth dates; inconsistency in the vetting process; and inadequacies featured in various application forms.

Click here to read the IPT’s white paper and its recommendations.

Steven Emerson is the Executive Director the Investigative Project on Terrorism ( where this article first appeared.

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