Former Terror Suspect in Norway: Norwegian Youth’s IS Engagement in Paralel with 60s and 70s

Norwegian philosopher, social commentator and associate professor Gule became known to the public in 1977 when he was arrested in Beirut with explosives in his luggage. 

In January 1977 Gule travelled from Norway to Lebanon. Gule sympathized with the Palestinian cause and became involved in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), a Palestinian political party and guerilla group that has also used terror in its struggle against Israel. Gule has, however, since denied that it was his intention to participate in terrorism and describes his involvement as part of the “anti-imperialist” struggle.

However, the DFLP asked Gule to carry out an armed operation in Israel in early June 1977. Gule has explained that the DFLP proposed three targets for him. The purpose of the explosion was to mark the 10th anniversary of the war in 1967, strengthen the Palestinians’ fighting spirit and morale”, he said later during interrogation to the Norwegian police.

As it was not possible to travel directly from Lebanon to Israel, Gule was to travel back to Norway where he was to procure a new passport before he went on to Israel after a few weeks, during the time he would consider if he could participate in such an operation. 

At the security check in Beirut International Airport on the way to Norway on 6 May, a security officers found approximately 750 grams of plastic explosives hidden in the covers of books Gule had in his backpack. He was eventually handed over to the Lebanese intelligence service and after harsh interrogations, Gule confessed to his cooperation with the DFLP. Gule has explained how he was exposed to torture, including being beaten under the soles of the feet and threatened with liquidation.

Gule was sentenced to six months prison in Lebanon and a fine for the “illegal possession of weapons”. He was acquitted of attempting to carry out terrorist acts using explosives.

The case attracted great attention in Norwegian media in the summer of 1977, and when Gule was released from prison and returned to Norway in November 1977. Afterward, Gule has devoted his life academic and humanitarian works. 

Gule has now written a book about why the Young Norwegians involve in the terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

– The simple answer is strong emotions. The same happened with th youth in the 60s and 70s. Perceived injustice – not necessarily on its own behalf, but we engaged us on behalf of others. Now it’s Syria war that engages many youngsters on the same ground, he says to Dagbladet. 

He sees several parallels between his own past and today’s extremism. One of those common features is that those traveling out is not the most educated.

– They do not particularly have thorough knowledge of Islam. Likewise there were not those who were the most knowledgable about Marxism and radical political theory which took the most extreme positions in the 60s and 70s. But they found a justification for their protest, and it could legitimize to throw stones at police or related to a liberation movement abroad who also used terror. Then you had sufficient theoretical ballast to fight with the police or make extremist statements that supported Stalin or Mao and the bourgeoisie must be punished, says he to Dagbladet. 

Quest for speed and excitement is also an important driving force, according to the extremism expert Gule.

For immortal youth, it is fascinating to get legitimized their own tension quest. You get outlet for adventure and excitement urge, and you make an effort in a conflict in which you believe that one side is the devil, and the other side is angels. It is obvious that such elements can be just as important as they are motivated by religion, he says. 

For Gule, both the current Syria explorers and radical youth in the 70s saw themselves as victims, or as representatives of victims elsewhere.

Many are frustrated and have experienced what he describes as “trigger events”. It could be several things, racism, rejection of job applications or that one has reacted strongly to reports from the war in Syria, writes Dagbladet.

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