Acquitted in Landmark Domestic Terrorism Case

Héraðsdómur Reykjavíkur Reykjavík District Court

The Reykjavík District Court has convicted Sindri Snær Birgisson and Ísidór Nathansson for violating weapons law, but acquitted them of attempted terrorism, RÚV reports. It is the very first court ruling in Iceland in a terrorism-related case. The defence calls the ruling a condemnation of the prosecution and the National Police Commissioner, who they assert took the case too far from the start.

Hoarded weapons and planned attack

In September 2022, four Icelandic men were arrested in Iceland on suspicion of plotting terrorist acts against public institutions and civilians. The investigation was the first of its kind in Iceland, with 50 police officers taking part. According to the police, the suspects had hoarded numerous weapons – including dozens of semi-automatic guns and 3D-printed components – alongside a considerable amount of ammunition. In private messages, two of the men had reportedly discussed carrying out an attack.

Two of the suspects were immediately released but the other two, Sindri Snær Birgisson and Ísidór Nathansson, were remanded in custody. The initial case was dismissed by the District Court in February 2023. A new 64-count indictment was presented in June and also dismissed by the district judge. The District Prosecutor appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals, demanding that the case proceed to substantive trial. The Court of Appeals overturned the dismissal on October 23 last year.

Receive sentences for weapons offences

The hearing in the case finally took place last February, and both defendants denied the main charges. The District Court has just published its judgement in the case, acquitting Sindri Snær Birgisson of attempted terrorism and Ísidór Nathansson of being a party to attempted terrorism. Sindri Snær received a 24-month sentence for weapons offences, minus the time he has already spent in custody, while Ísidór received an 18-month sentence.

Inspector says police were right to intervene

Einar Oddur Sigurðsson, Ísidor’s defence attorney, stated it was a huge relief that the defendants had been cleared of allegations of intended terrorism. Sindri Snær’s attorney Sveinn Andri Sveinsson, admitted, however, that Sindri Snær’s weapons violation was an unusually serious offence. The two said that the judgement is a condemnation of how Icelandic police and the Icelandic justice system handled the case.

During his testimony, Chief Police Inspector Karl Steinar Valsson outlined the National Police Commissioner’s involvement in the case. He affirmed that it was his assessment at the time, and remains his view today, that the police were correct to intervene.

The prosecutor has not yet stated whether the judgement will be appealed.

Court of Appeals Reverses Dismissal in Domestic Terror Case

Judge's gavel

The Court of Appeals (i.e. Landsréttur) has invalidated the decision of the Reykjavik District Court to dismiss the indictment in the so-called domestic terror case. The defence attorney for one of the two defendants told Vísir on Monday that his client, who was innocent, was not fearful of court proceedings.

64-count indictment presented in June

Last year, four Icelandic men were arrested suspected of terrorist plots against state institutions and civilians. Two of the suspects were immediately released, while the other two were kept in custody for an extended period.

Although the initial case was dismissed in February of this year, a new 64-count indictment was presented in June, 2023. That indictment was also dismissed in early October on the grounds that the case’s limitations – namely that no specific time nor place for the intended terrorist acts had been laid out by the prosecution – hindered the defence in presenting its arguments. The District Prosecutor appealed the decision.

Supreme Court hearing anticipated

The Court of Appeals has now invalidated the decision of the Reykjavik District Court to dismiss the indictment, which means that the case will be reconsidered in the district court where the indictment stands.

In an interview with Vísir on Monday, Sveinn Andri Sveinsson – defence attorney for one of the two defendants in the case – stated that he disagreed with the Court of Appeals’ decision; the district court’s conclusion was well-founded.

“But the Court of Appeals has the final say. If one wants to find something positive in this, it will be better, in the long run, to have a clear and definite acquittal rather than the case ending ambiguously, which was where it seemed to be heading,” Sveinn observed. Sveinn Andri also told Mbl.is that his defendant was not fearful of the possibility of a trial: “My client is not fearful of the court proceedings because he is innocent.”

When asked about the case’s lengthy legal process, Sveinn compared it to an American comedy: “It’s like the script for Groundhog Day 2,” he stated, adding that he suspected that the case would eventually wind up in the Supreme Court. “One way or another.”

Would-Be Terrorists Discussed Killing Minister Guðlaugur Þór

Minister for Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson.

The two men being held in police custody accused of planning a domestic terrorism attack in Iceland had reportedly discussed killing Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson – Minister of the Environment, Energy, and Climate.

The “first investigation of its kind” in Iceland

Four Icelandic men were arrested on September 21 suspected of “terrorist plots” against state institutions and civilians. Two of the suspects were immediately released; the other two have remained in custody. Last Friday, the District Court of Reykjavík approved the District Attorney’s request to extend their custody by four weeks.

According to the police, the suspects had hoarded numerous weapons – including dozens of semi-automatic guns and 3D-printed components – alongside a considerable amount of ammunition. The men, both of whom are in their twenties, had reportedly discussed carrying out an attack during the police’s annual celebration (which was held on October 1).

Politicians among would-be targets

Yesterday, RÚV reported that the suspects had also discussed killing Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister of the Environment, Energy, and Climate. The Chief of Police reportedly notified the Minister of the suspects’ intentions prior to calling the Minister in for questioning.

As reported on October 10, the suspects had also discussed targeting Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir and Gunnar Smári Egilsson, chairperson of the Socialist Party. The names of current and former Pirate Party politicians were also mentioned as possible targets.

The police have asked a psychiatrist to assess the earnestness of the remarks made by the men during private messages, with the suspects’ lawyers contending that the threats were empty. Chief Police Inspector Karl Steinar Valsson has stated that this is the “first investigation of its kind” to be launched in Iceland.

Custody of Domestic Terror Suspects Extended Four Weeks

Terror plot

The two individuals suspected of planning a domestic terror attack will be held in custody for another four weeks. RÚV reports that the District Court of Reykjavík approved the District Attorney’s request for extended custody on Friday. The suspects’ lawyers have appealed the decision to the National Court.

The suspects have been held in isolation for three weeks, a decision that has been criticized by their lawyers. In his petition for extended custody, however, DA Ólafur Þór Hauksson did not request further isolation.

See Also: Judge Grants Extended Custody Over Domestic Terror Suspects

Four Icelandic men were arrested on September 21 suspected of “terrorist plots” against state institutions and civilians. Two of the suspects were immediately released; the other two have remained in custody.

According to the police, the suspects had hoarded numerous weapons – including dozens of semi-automatic guns and 3D-printed components – alongside a considerable amount of ammunition. The men, all of whom are in their twenties, had reportedly discussed carrying out an attack during the police’s annual celebration (which was held on October 1).

Chief Police Inspector Karl Steinar Valsson told reporters that this was the “first investigation of its kind to be launched in Iceland.

Domestic Terrorists Targeted Sólveig Jónsdóttir and Gunnar Egilsson

Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir.

The men being held in police custody for planning a domestic terrorism attack in Iceland are reported to have targeted Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir and Gunnar Smári Egilsson, chairperson of the Socialist Party.

This was first reported in Samstöðin, a media platform for leftwing political debate.

Read more: Judge Grants Extended Custody to Domestic Terror Suspects

According to Samstöðdin, individuals named by the suspects as potential targets were brought in by the district prosecutor to testify.

Sólveig was reportedly shown an exchange in which the suspects vowed to kill her, identifying her as a troublemaker who wanted to start a revolution.

Gunnar was also shown a conversation in which one of the suspects reported to have seen Gunnar in a restaurant. The suspect speculated about what would happen if he had killed Gunnar on the spot.

Read more: Police Commissioner’s Father Entangled in Domestic Terror Investigation

Sólveig stated to Samstöðin the following: “[o]f course, it is frightening to learn that these men have been collecting weapons and planning to execute me for my political views and work. But I’ve just become so numb from the relentless attacks and accusations over the past few years that I took it like any other attack.”

In response to the planned attacks, Gunnar has highlighted the dangers of rightwing nationalism and hate speech.

Gunnar stated to Samstöðin that “[t]he Socialist Party is fighting for the development of social housing, to repeal tax cuts for the rich, for the general public to have power over their resources and other national issues that enjoy the support of a large majority of the public. The right responds to this by associating Socialists with Stalin’s crimes, violence, subversion and plots to deprive people of their freedom.”

Gunnar also called attention to the unfair ways in which Sólveig is portrayed in media, with terms such as “purges” regarding her recent reorganization of the Efling union office associating her with Soviet dictatorship.

Judge Grants Extended Custody Over Domestic-Terror Suspects

Terror plot

Yesterday, the Reykjavík District Court granted the district attorney’s request to extend custody over two individuals suspected of planning a domestic-terror attack, both of whom have been kept in isolation since late September, RÚV reports. The suspects’ lawyers have appealed the decision to the National Court.

“The first investigation of its kind”

Four Icelandic men were arrested on September 21 suspected of “terrorist plots” against state institutions and civilians. Two of the suspects were immediately released; the other two have remained in custody.

According to the police, the suspects had hoarded numerous weapons – including dozens of semi-automatic guns and 3D-printed components – alongside a considerable amount of ammunition. The men, all of whom are in their twenties, had reportedly discussed carrying out an attack during the police’s annual celebration (which was held on October 1).

Chief Police Inspector Karl Steinar Valsson told reporters that this was the “first investigation of its kind to be launched in Iceland.”

Custody extended

Yesterday, District Attorney Ólafur Þór Hauksson confirmed to RÚV that the Reykjavík District Court had agreed to extend custody over the two suspects. The court’s rationale was primarily founded on the complicated nature of the investigation.

As previously noted, eight different units are working on the investigation. “We’re investigating the 3D printer, various electronic data, weapons, and tips from the public. We’ve also sent quite a bit of data to police authorities in the Nordic countries and to Europol so that they may assist in our processing of the evidence,” Grímur Grímsson, Chief of the Capital Area Police, told reports on September 29.

According to Ólafur Þór, the police have also yet to formally interrogate the two suspects. As soon as investigative interests no longer apply, however, there would be no need to keep the suspects isolated, Ólafur observed. The suspects’ lawyers have criticised their clients’ prolonged isolation. They appealed the decision to extend custody to the National Court yesterday.

As previously noted in Iceland Review, National Police Commissioner Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir has recused herself from the investigation, as the home of the Police Commissioner’s father, a well-known weapons collector, was searched during the investigation.

Police Commissioner’s Father Entangled in Domestic-Terror Investigation

Chief Superintendent Grímur Grímsson

National Police Commissioner Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir has recused herself from an investigation into a domestic-terrorism plot; the home of the Police Commissioner’s father, a well-known weapons collector, was searched during the investigation. Two men remain in custody.

A well-known weapons collector and gunsmith

Last week, the police arrested four Icelandic men suspected of planning a domestic-terrorism attack. Two of the suspects were immediately released; the other two have remained in custody.

According to the police, the suspects had hoarded numerous weapons – including dozens of semi-automatic guns and 3D-printed components – alongside a considerable amount of ammunition. The men, all of whom are in their twenties, had discussed carrying out an attack during the police’s annual celebration, which will be held tomorrow, October 1.

Read More: Does Iceland have a gun problem?

At a press conference yesterday, Sveinn Ingiberg Magnússon, Chief of Police for the District Attorney’s Office, revealed that National Police Commissioner Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir had recused herself from the case as an individual connected to her had been named in the investigation.

Following the press conference, various outlets reported that the individual in question was Guðjón Valdimarsson, the Police Commissioner’s father. According to RÚV, the police had searched the home of Guðjón Valdimarsson, a known weapons collector and gunsmith, who sells weapons and spare parts on the website vopnasalinn.net.

Guðjón is said to own a sizable collection of guns and has been granted a “collector’s licence,” authorising his ownership of illegal weapons if, for example, they possess historical value. The police has, however, not offered any details on Guðjón’s possible connection to the investigation.

Mbl.is references comments that Guðjón Valdimarsson made regarding a bill on weapons, explosives, and fireworks. “My weapons collection is one of the largest private collections in Iceland,” Guðjón remarked, adding that he had invested a considerable amount in weapons, estimating the value of his collection to be ca. ISK 40 million. He also emphasised that his collection was kept in a specially-designed building and that all of the weapons were registered legally.

Police officers to experiment with tasers

The investigation into the domestic-terror plot has brought the discussion of proactive policing into the fore. RÚV reports that the Minister of Justice is drafting regulations that would allow police officers to carry tasers as a part of an experimental project.