Sunday, April 05, 2015

A Norway Town and Its Pipeline to Jihad in Syria

A street in the district of Lisleby in Fredrikstad, Norway, from which eight young men traveled to Syria to fight alongside the Islamic State and other groups. Credit Bryan Denton for The New York Times
By ANDREW HIGGINS, NYT
APRIL 4, 2015

FREDRIKSTAD, Norway — The real trouble started when they stopped causing trouble. Torleif Sanchez Hammer and his friends — all residents of the same small cluster of clapboard houses in southern Norway — had been having run-ins with the police for years but then suddenly halted their marijuana-fueled gatherings in the basement apartment of Mr. Hammer’s widowed mother.

Police officers in this placid Norwegian town had busted their marijuana parties so regularly that “we knew them all on a first-name basis,” recalled Ragnar Foss, head of a local police unit responsible for youth crime. But, two years ago, they cleaned up their act. “We wondered what had happened but were glad when they dropped off our radar,” Mr. Foss said.

One by one over the following months, Mr. Hammer and at least seven other young men who lived on or around just one street, Lislebyveien, made their way to Syria to wage jihad alongside the Islamic State and other militant groups.

As Europe tries to fathom such journeys by its young Muslims, politicians and scholars have variously blamed the influence of the Internet and radical mosques, or sources of despair like discrimination and unemployment.

(More here.)

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