It has been a year that started with Islamic terror in Paris, a city that was attacked by the same ideology in November.
Jens Stoltenberg, as Secretary General of NATO, with Brussels as residency, has seen the city being closed down after threats from Islamists.
And it's not more than four years ago, as Prime Minister of Norway, that he had to handle terrorism on Norwegian soil.
Then it was no Islamist but a Norwegian with severe issues.
On 22 July 2011, Anders Behring Breivik first set off a bomb at the Government building, before he went to Utøya, the location of the Norwegian Labour Party's AUF summer youth camp, which is organised there every summer and was attended by approximately 600 teenagers.
There he killed 69 youths, most of them ethnic Norwegians.
The attacks were the deadliest in Norway since World War II. It was also the deadliest terrorist attack in western Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings which killed 191 people.
This changed on the 13th November 2015, when multiple bombings and shootings took place in Paris, France.
In the aftermath of the attacks in Norway, the rescue and emergency response was heavily criticised as it took an hour for the police to reach Utøya. The Norwegian police had no helicopters suitable for transporting groups of police for an airdrop. The one they had was useful only for surveillance and the helicopter crew was on vacation.
So after the leader of the camp, then AUF leader Eskil Pedersen, cowardly fled with the only ferry, a bulletproof military landing ferry from World War II, which could have saved many who tried to swim from the island, the police first overloaded a rubber dingy and almost sank, before a civilian came to their rescue.
Four years later, as a result of lessons learned from Utøya, one would think that everything now works smooth in case of another, possibly larger terrorist attack, but that would be quite an exaggeration.
- There are of course major differences between the 22 July terror and the terror they experience daily in Syria, where people are killed in barbaric ways for entirely different reasons. What they have in common is an absolute contempt for human beings and human rights, misuse of religion and ideology. 22 July and the Isil terror are both reminders that it is not religious groups, but individuals who are responsible, whether it's a white boy in Oslo or a Muslim who abuse Islam in Aleppo or Paris, says Stoltenberg.
The Armenians, among others, would quite possibly strongly disagree.
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In an interview onboard the plane home from Tirana, Albania's capital, NATO Secretary General says he does not support the message of his successor as Labor leader, Jonas Gahr Støre, who told DN in November that: "The direction of Islamic theology which draws against violence and Islamism, has for some groups an alluring potential that Europe recognize. It is the totalitarian temptation we have seen in Europe before."
Stoltenberg won't even take the word Islamism in his mouth.
- We must confront all forms of violence and extremism irrespective of whether Islam is used as an excuse.
- The terror we see from IS has nothing to do with Islam?
- Isil use Islam as others have misused Christianity. The terror we have seen in Norway have used other religions and ideologies. I think abuse of religion has to be combated.
- You don't share Støre's view that it is actually part of the Islamic theology that must be confronted?
- We must combat all extremism that uses violence. It is violence that is unacceptable. This is not a struggle between the West and Islam. Most victims of Isil terror are Muslims. Isil creates a barrier between them and other Muslims.
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Tirana was the last stop on the compulsory round to all NATO countries after Stoltenberg became secretary general. It took him just over a year to get to number 28, Albania, the poorest country in the alliance, in a region that Nato bombed for no less than 16 years ago. While the alliance led the raids against neighbouring country Serbia at the time, it is not NATO that is leading the war against IS.
- NATO does a lot in the fight against terrorism. NATO countries use the expertise they have developed as allies for many years - the ability to operate in large-scale operations together, through their programs, exercises and practical experience in Afghanistan. And the NATO as an alliance is helping with the most important, to build capacity locally. That is to make countries better able to defend themselves and fight terrorism. We can no long fight others' wars, wars should be handled locally.
- But will NATO play a greater role?
- NATO has no plans for ground forces, but ground forces could be needed to combat Isil. The forces NATO is helping to train and create. So we are strengthening air protection in Turkey and stepping up intelligence exchange, says Stoltenberg.
Solution without Assad
- Several people have advocated that the only way to resolve the war in Syria is that the West and Russia join forces for a diplomatic solution. Is it possible to go into partnership with the Russians when they want to keep Assad?
- It is possible to achieve a diplomatic solution, and we need more than military force to resolve the crisis. It is positive that Russia together with Saudi Arabia and Iran are discussing a possible political solution. But Assad is not part of the solution. He has brutally used chemical weapons against his own people, bombed civilians and is responsible for the civil war, says Stoltenberg, sounding like a echo of the American President, Barack Hussein Obama.
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