“In answer to a group of infidels of the Soldiers of Odin, we Muslims have chosen to form a group to patrol the streets, initially in the capital, Oslo, to prohibit evil and bring about good.” So said a statement send to VG, a Norwegian newspaper, by a group that calls itself “Jundullaah”: the Soldiers of Allah.
 
According to VG, backing the Soldiers of Allah are radical Muslims who belong to the Prophet Ummah organization. The group is under surveillance, according to media reports, by Norwegian security services. Its spokesman, Abaydullah Hussain is under arrest for having recruited for the Islamic State. The Soldiers of Allah admit that most of its members are on the government watch list.
 
The Soldiers of Allah appear to be a Muslim response to the Soldiers of Odin. The latter consists of young men who walk the streets in neighborhoods in Norway and neighboring Sweden and Finland. Dressed in leather jackets and hoodies imprinted with the image of the Norse god, they claim to be the defenders of the native population from crime committed by Muslims.
 
A former Norwegian minister of culture, Hadia Takij has accused the Soldiers of Odin of links to criminal elements. Takij, who is a member of Norway’s parliament, said “It’s as though the Islamists had become uniformed, taken over the streets and declared themselves as watch dogs. This is unwelcome and unfortunate for our country; it would be devastating.” Vigilante groups, said Takij, are not welcome whether they advocate for Odin or Allah.
 
So far, the Soldiers of Odin have not been seen patrolling Oslo. However, they have been observed in the cities of Drammen and Tønsberg. The spokesman for "Odin's soldiers," Ronny Alte, sees the formation of the Soldiers of Allah as a sinister development. He told VG, “I was very surprised to hear that they had organized themselves. That there are extreme Islamists, and they are many, is well known, but they organize themselves is surprising, said Alte.
 
A member of Norway’s libertarian Progress Party (FRP), Jan Arild Ellingsen, has reportedly called on the Soldiers of Odin to provide security on the streets. However, both Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Progress Party leader and Finance Minister Siv Jensen denounced the initiative.
 
Ellingsen said in a radio debate on Feb. 23 that Soldiers of Odin should be “praised.” “Progress of course doesn’t give unlimited support to the Soldiers of Odin. But the situation is that we have for a long time had a situation in our streets that nobody wants, where crimes are committed and other actions we don’t want occur and the Norwegian police don’t have the resources to do the job. Thus we think that any citizen who wants to contribute to reducing insecurity and reducing crime should be praised for it,” he said. 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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