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.

Europol Experts Believed Terror Suspects Posed Imminent Threat

Héraðsdómur Reykjavíkur Reykjavík District Court

The two men recently charged with planning a domestic terrorist attack were believed to pose an imminent threat by Europol experts, Vísir reports. A ruling made by the Court of Appeal, published yesterday, notes that the defendants had discussed launching an attack on Parliament, the Ministry of Justice, and the police authorities.

The Court of Appeal overturns custody ruling

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal overturned a ruling by Reykjavík’s District Court revoking the extended custody of two men recently charged with violating Article No. 100 of Iceland’s General Penal Code (pertaining to acts of terrorism). The Court of Appeal ruled that the defendants, who had been held in custody since September, were to be released on the basis of a mental assessment that concluded that they were not a danger to themselves or others.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal published its ruling on its  website. The judgment references the overturned Reykjavík District Court ruling, which notes that the police authorities had consulted with Europol experts on the case. Having reviewed the case files, the Europol experts concluded that the two men were likely to take imminent action and commit acts of terrorism in Iceland.

Had begun penning his own manifesto

As reported by Iceland Review earlier this year, when the defendants were arrested in September, the police seized semi-automatic rifles, including AK-47s and AR-15s, along with ammunition and components for 3D-printed guns. Court documents state that the police also seized an item that could be inserted into an AR-15 rifle so as to make it automatic.

Court documents also note that the men possessed material concerning known terrorists and their atrocities, in addition to manifestos. The suspect who is the subject of the ruling denied that he was planning an act of domestic terrorism, maintaining that comments concerning various terrorist atrocities were harmless: they had been made in jest and under the influence of alcohol. The same held for all the other material that they had acquired.

Court documents further maintain that the defendant had begun to pen his own manifesto.

Last night, RÚV reported that the District Attorney would yet again motion for custody.

 

 

Domestic-Terror Suspects Engaged in a “Failed Attempt at Humour,” Attorney Says

Terror plot

The defence attorney for one of the two men held in custody suspected of planning a domestic-terror attack has dismissed private messages between the suspects as a “failed attempt at humour.” He does not believe that either of the men will be charged with planning a terrorist attack, Vísir reports.

Custody extended by four weeks

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal confirmed the further four-week custody of two men arrested last month suspected of planning a domestic-terrorism attack. 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 had also discussed carrying out attacks against political figures, among them Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson and Chairman of Efling, Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir.

“Having spoken with my client, it appears that the police got ahead of itself in their press conferences and the like. It appears as if this is a matter of a firearms violation,” Sveinn Andri Sveinsson, the new defence attorney for one of the suspects, told Vísir.

Sveinn Andri stated that his client admits to weapons offences but that the men were not planning a real domestic-terror attack, suggesting that that charge rests solely on the evidence of private messages: “It was merely a failed attempt at humour by these two boys; the idea that they had been planning an act of terrorism on public chatrooms, that just doesn’t hold any water.”

“My client is a harmless wretch who wouldn’t hurt a fly. He’s as far from a terrorist as one can imagine. He has no interest in politics, believes that the Pirates are actual buccaneers and not a political party, and so on, and so forth.”

When asked if he believed that the court’s primary task would be to decide whether or not private messages between the two men were “failed attempts at humour,” Sveinn replied that he was altogether unsure whether the charge of planning a terrorist attack would be brought against the two suspects.

“I’m not sure that it’ll go as far as that; my feeling is that, in the end, they’ll be charged for weapons offences to which they will then admit.”

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.

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.