Court Rulings Shed New Light on Domestic Terror Plot Defendants

Weapons and ammunition

Two recently released verdicts from the Court of Appeal (Landsréttur) shed new light on the two defendants in the ongoing domestic terror case, RÚV reports. One of the defendants described himself as a Nazi while the other maintained that he was a humanist who believed in God.

Benefit of the doubt

In December, formal charges were brought against two men suspected of plotting a domestic terror attack in Iceland. They have been free to travel since the Court of Appeal revoked their custody during the middle of last month.

When the district attorney filed to extend custody over the two men, the Court of Appeal concluded that it was impossible to establish that there was a strong suspicion that the men had intended to commit acts of terrorism. The District Court of Reykjavík had previously ruled that the suspects must be given the benefit of the doubt, as a detailed evaluation by a psychiatrist had shown that they did not pose a threat.

Known each other for some time

As reported by RÚV, the Court of Appeal recently published two rulings made in October concerning the case. The hearings shed new light on the two defendants, who, at the time, had been in custody and isolation for almost three weeks. The documents show that the men had known each other for a long time and, among other things, were colleagues at a construction company.

One of the men has been charged with attempted terrorism. A little over a week before he was arrested, the police had found three 3D printers and four firearms in his home. He was later taken into custody but released a week later as the police had not been able to access his phone. When they finally managed to access his phone, the police discovered messages between the man and the other defendant where they discussed, among other things, Nazism, mass murder, and the purchase and sale of weapons. The two men were subsequently arrested in a large-scale operation by the National Police Commissioner, the district prosecutor, and the Capital Area Police.

Claimed to be a humanist

During the first hearing, the defendant admitted that he had engaged in conversations with the other man: that they were friends and that they shared a special sense of humour. He stated that he was unemployed, having lost his job two months earlier, that he believed in God, and that he had been confirmed into the church. He maintained, however, that he didn’t follow politics and bore no ill will towards politicians.

He also stated that the messages he had sent were meaningless and were a product of their odd sense of humour: He was a humanist who cared about LGBT people and people of colour. He added that many people considered his friend to be a Nazi who hated both Jews and Muslims. He could not, however, explain why he had been searching the internet for the date of the annual celebration of the police; he was bitter and hurt but did not want to explain it further.

Intended to produce methamphetamine and not explosives

In a hearing one week later, the defendant repeated that his comments were meaningless, that he and his friend shared a dark sense of humour. He was not an angry man and that, generally speaking, he cared for other people.

In the third hearing, he reported that the list of chemicals found by the police was not intended for bomb-making but for the production of methamphetamine. In the fourth hearing, he stated that all of their talk about the police annual celebration and the Pride parade – as well as their talk about assassinating political leaders –  had been a joke. He concluded by saying that he was ashamed of his comments.

Discontent with LGBTQ people and foreigners

During the first hearing, the other defendant, charged with complicity, described himself as a recluse and admitted that others called him a Nazi. He said that he often offended people by speaking openly, something he was aware of and that had led to his sense of isolation.

He stated that he was part of the group the Right Wing and that he believed gays were given too much space in society and should be kept away from children. He also expressed discontent with the many foreigners streaming into the country, who did not work and lived off the system. He added that he was a big weapon and bomb enthusiast. His partner had aired the idea of running people down during the Pride parade but that he hadn’t actively participated in the conversation, that he had just gone along with it.

A week later, a statement was taken from him again. During that interview, he said that he realised that the data that the police had gathered would look very bad for him. “He claimed to be a Nazi,” the ruling states.

Repeated during the hearing that he was a Nazi

He described the other defendant as being vengeful and bitter as he had been refused a firearms licence; it had taken a toll on him. He denied, however, that he had planned to carry out terrorist acts. Asked why others described him as anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic, he said that it probably had to do with his being a Nazi. He repeated that observation later in the same hearing.

In the third hearing, the man’s reasoning had slightly altered, RÚV notes. He stated that all the talk about terrorism, assassinations, and bomb-making was meaningless. He had been drunk when he made those comments. He admitted, however, that he had saved a video of a certain terrorist attack with the words that the terrorist in the attack was “a god” but again claimed that he had been inebriated.

Tried to cool his partner down

During the third hearing, he outlined his concerns about his friend, whom he said had gone too far in his discussions about drone strikes. At that time, he had begun to believe that his friend could carry out such plans and that he had attempted to cool his friend down.

The indictment against the men will be registered in the Reykjavík District Court in the middle of this month. The National Police Commissioner raised the alert level after the men were released. No information was received as to whether the office would have a special presence in the district court when the men appear before the court, RÚV notes.

Terror Suspect’s Defence Attorney “Astonished” by “Vague” Charges

Héraðsdómur Reykjavíkur Reykjavík District Court

Earlier today at the District Court of Reykjavík, formal charges were brought against two men suspected of planning a domestic-terror attack. A defence attorney for one of the suspects has told Vísir that he is “astonished” by the charges.

Custody extended by an additional four weeks

As reported earlier today, the District Prosecutor filed a motion for extended custody over two men suspected of planning a domestic terror attack earlier this year. The court approved the motion, and custody was extended for an additional four weeks.

Formal charges were also brought against the two suspects. One of the suspects was charged with an act of attempted terrorism and weapons offences. The other suspected was charged as an accomplice to an act of attempted terrorism, weapons offences, and a minor narcotics violation.

Hairy as a “chimpanzee’s back”

Speaking to Vísir today, Sveinn Andri Sveinsson, defence attorney for one of the suspects, stated that he was “astonished” by the charges: “They’re charged with unspecified offences against an unspecified group of people at an unspecified time between May and September. It’s as hairy as a chimpanzee’s back.”

According to Sveinn Andri, the police authorities had been too extreme in their initial operations. “The only attempted offence, in this case, was an attempt to destroy the lives of two young men,” Sveinn Andri observed.

“The charges are founded on weapons that they had hoarded. My client was not in possession of any weapons. There’s a reference to weapon production. These are probably the first terrorists who hoard weapons but then sell them before committing an act of terrorism, which must constitute a highly questionable for of preparation,” Sveinn Andri remarked.

Sveinn Andri added that he and his client would have to “roll with the punches.” They would begin by examining a motion for dismissal, given the vague nature of the charges.

“It’s complete nonsense. Terrible. You’ve completely upended the lives of these two young men on the basis of ego. The police jumped the gun in the beginning and everything that they’ve done since has been geared toward justifying that initial jump.”

Custody of Domestic Terror Suspects Extended by Two Weeks

Suspect

The two individuals suspected of planning a domestic terror attack will be held in custody for another two weeks, Vísir reports. A defence attorney has called the decision “incomprehensible” in light of a psychiatric assessment that held that the men were neither a danger to themselves nor others.

Psychiatric assessment “not taken into account”

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, both of whom are in their twenties, had discussed carrying out attacks against political figures, among them Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson and Chairman of Efling, Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir.

As noted by Vísir yesterday, the two men were initially placed in custody on the basis of investigative interests, but the current extension, as confirmed by the Reykjavík District Court, was predicated on public interest, with the men believed to be a danger to the public.

In an interview with Vísir yesterday, Sveinn Andri Sveinsson, defence attorney for one of the men, stated that the decision was founded on a threat analysis carried out by the National Police Department. “I’ve criticised the fact that the threat assessment, which actually predated the psychiatric assessment, did not take the psychiatric assessment into account.”

According to Sveinn, the psychiatrist who carried out the assessment at the behest of the police did not believe the men to be a threat to themselves or others. The District Court, however, did not take this assessment into account. Sveinn Andri added that his client would be appealing the District Court’s decision, which was a big disappointment, to the Court of Appeal.

“It’s always disappointing for individuals who are in custody without good reason to have to remain in custody. But we’ll simply have to deal with it and try to have the decision overturned in the Court of Appeals. That would be ideal.”

In late October, Sveinn Andri Sveinsson dismissed private messages between the suspects as a “failed attempt at humour,” adding that he did not believe that either of the men would be charged with planning a terrorist attack.

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.