A man has been arrested in Oslo, Norway for kidnapping his wife and five children and taking them to Syria against their will. He had told his family that they were going on holiday to Turkey, but upon arrival in that country he whisked them across the border into Syria, The Local has reported. The family are Norwegian citizens, although the man is known to be of Syrian origin.
His wife and children, aged between one and eight years old, were held by armed guards in Syria for a month whilst the 35 year old man joined a terrorist organisation. It is not yet known whether he was fighting with Islamic State or Al-Nusra.
The family arrived back at Oslo Gardermoen airport on Saturday, and the man was arrested as the family made their way to Oslo. His family have been heavily traumatised by their ordeal and are now being cared for by the Norwegian healthcare authority.
“They were forced against their own will to go into a war zone. It is an extreme situation that it is difficult to fathom. These children feared for their lives,” Vidar Helgheim, the victims’ lawyer, told Norwegian media outlet NTB. He also described the man as an “Islamic extremist.”
Helgheim had reported the case to the police on the 6th August on the request of relatives in Norway. Attempts had been made since that date to recover the family by Norwegian police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but their efforts were hampered as they were unable to send personnel into Syria. The family crossed back into Turkey of their own accord before returning to Norway.
It is understood that the man had been sentenced to two years in prison for drug offences earlier this year, but was waiting to start his sentence. Norway is currently grappling with a shortage of prison spaces, meaning that there is a backlog of some 1,800 convicted prisoners waiting to start their sentences.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has refused to comment on the case, stating that it is not theirs to comment on. The Norwegian Police Security Service is also distancing themselves, saying that they had been informed of the incident but would not get involved unless charges of involvement in terrorist actions abroad were brought against the man.
In August, the Norwegian government signaled that it was considering new laws to strip citizenship from those taking part in terrorist or jihadi operations.