Why Does Al-Qaeda Have a Problem With Norway?

While it is still not clear who is responsible for the attacks in Norway, this article seems a lot more interesting now than it did last week when it was published.

Thomas Hegghammer and Dominic Tierney in The Atlantic:

23oslo_337-custom1 Why did al-Qaeda attack us on 9/11? Quite simple, said George Bush in 2001: “They hate our freedoms.” Not so, responded Osama Bin Laden: “Let him tell us why we did not strike Sweden.” Although Sweden may be off-limits for jihadists, the same cannot be said for Sweden's neighbor, Norway.

Last Thursday, three men were arrested in Norway and Germany for allegedly plotting a terrorist attack involving peroxide explosives. Those arrested were all Muslim immigrants to Norway, originally from China, Iraq, and Uzbekistan. Authorities claim that the suspects had links to al-Qaeda in Pakistan, and that one of them visited Waziristan in 2008. If this is true, an al-Qaeda cell had set up shop in the suburbs of Oslo.

Why on Earth would Norway be a target for attack? The country is famed as an international peace negotiator, the home of the Nobel Peace Prize, and the distributor of more foreign aid per capita than any other country. It's an all-round international good guy — so long as we aren't talking about whaling.

To be sure, no confirmed details have emerged so far about the suspects' motives or their objectives. However, leaks from the investigation suggest that Norway was indeed the target and not a logistics base for an attack elsewhere.

There are several theories about why Norway would be on al-Qaeda's hit-list — but they raise more questions than answers.

More here.