Two Norwegians Hold Top Positions Within Islamic State

The two reportedly take orders directly from IS chief al-Baghdadi.

A UN peacekeeping car leaves the main UN headquarters next to the Quneitra crossing
A UN peacekeeping car leaves the main UN headquarters next to the Quneitra crossing, the only border crossing between Israel and Syria, in the Golan Heights on August 30, 2014. AFP

Two Norwegians have commanding positions within Islamic State, the group that is trying to create a caliphate in Syria and Iraq, a media report says.

The Norway Post identified one of them as Bastian Vasquez from Skien, in southeast Norway. The other is a Norwegian of African descent from Baerum, outside Oslo, the paper reported.

The Norway Post quoted NRK, the country's public broadcaster, as saying that the two take orders directly from the head of IS, Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi.

In late August, thousands of Norwegian Muslims demonstrated to protest the tactics of Islamic State, which among other things has recently distributed video of its killing of two journalists working in the Middle East.

A month earlier, the Washington Post reported that the Norwegian security police had said that the country was facing an imminent threat of a terror attack from an extreme Islamist group in Syria. That alert was called off after a week.

The Washington Post also quoted the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment – an institute focused on research in science and defense – as saying that hundreds of European Muslims have traveled to Syria during the country's 3 1/2-year civil war.