Since 1993, Norwegian authorities have renewed their view on terror. The old understanding of terrorism imply a politically motivated crime where the target is logically connected to the political aim of the terrorist. Examples of terrorist acts are fights, window breaking, demonstrations, tear gas attacks and bomb attacks.
While the new understanding of terrorism imply that the reasoning is not as important anymore and it involves an increased attention paid to religiously motivated terror. In this renewed view on terror terror attacks are attacks on vital infrastructure and the mass murder of innocent people. Terrorists will use new forms of weapons, for instance, computerised weapons, chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
"What changed after September 11, was that we got a clearer picture of who a terrorist might be. Today, we would never think that a window breaker could be a terrorist. So the terror understanding we had in the early nineties, definitely became somewhat outdated after September 11," says Sissel Jore, who is working on a PhD in risk management and societal safety at the University of Stavanger in Norway.
Her research shows that since 1993, Norwegian authorities have renewed their view on terror, and upgraded the terror alert in accordance with the new, global understanding of terror. Before, they were liable to use terms like half criminal, window breaking, damage and political demonstrations when the terrorist threat against Norway was considered. After the year 2000, there was a change in our understanding of terrorism. Society could be threatened by new forms of terrorism, which would use new weapons, including weapons of mass destruction.
"You would think that Norwegian authorities got their new view on the term terrorism after September 11 2001. However, the new understanding came as early as the late 1990s. Both the EU's and NATO's new strategic concept from 1999 emphasised the threat from terrorism. However, some researchers also put forward theories suggesting that terrorism would change character, and that new, more lethal forms of terrorism would pose a threat in the future," Ms Jore explains.
Earlier an attack on an embassy could be linked to, and understood on the basis of, various conflicts. A terrorist had an understandable reason. From 2000 with Committee for assessment of vulnerability the authorities in Norway moved the attention away from the motivation. Instead, they looked at the weapon and the threats, and at what a terrorist might be capable of doing. New concepts were introduced such as computer terrorism and atomic terrorism. These concepts give us a whole new understanding of what terrorism is, and what terrorists are capable of doing.
With the old understanding of terror, there was no need for special legislation to protect society. With the new understanding of terror, it is a serious risk to the whole of society, especially terror linked to vital infrastructure - i.e. means of transport, roads, water supplies, and telecommunication.
Jore explains that the change in our understanding of terrorism has been part of the reason for the new legislation, and for maintaining a Norwegian terror alert. The new understanding of terror gives more power to the authorities, as most people feel the new terror as more serious, and a threat to the our whole society. This means an increased level of safety measures in society.
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