The minister refuses to give an answer about the operation

The minister refuses to give an answer about the operation

For more than 10 years, Defense Chief Eric Christopherson has detailed the operation he led. Only then did it become clear that the wrong person had been taken. Now the Defense Minister has closed the matter.

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On 17 September 2007, Norwegian special forces launched an operation to capture a notorious Taliban leader named Kari Nejad.

It has become one of the most praised and discussed Norwegian operations in Afghanistan.

After 15 years, the wrong person was arrested, said VG.

Mason and Leader: Left: Photo taken shortly after the arrest of Mason Mohammad Naseem.  Right: An undated photo of Taliban leader Khari Nejad, who was killed in 2008.

The captured was not the wanted Taliban leader, but a mercenary named Mohammad Naseem.

Eirik Kristoffersen received Norway’s highest military award, the Battle Cross with Swords, for leading this operation and another.

In the years before VG’s articles about the operation, defense chief Eirik Kristoffersen detailed the operation in interviews and books.

Chief of Defense: Erik Kristoffersen has been the Supreme Commander of the Defense Forces since 2020.

Write about surgery in detail

In the same autumn that Eirik Kristoffersen began his work as head of defense, he published the book “Jegerånden”. Here, the defense chief himself describes the move in eight pages.

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In the book, the defense chief writes about this:

  • Number of special forces and other soldiers who participated in the operation.
  • Spies used by FSK to get information. They are described in the book as “respectable people who can travel in and out of the valley as they please”.
  • A diversionary maneuver. A group of FSK soldiers opened fire on another hill in the valley.
Questions asked: Ingrid Fiska (SV) in the Storting's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee

Talking about surgery

In a podcast published in November, Eirik Kristoffersen talked about the surgery for more than eight minutes. The podcast is called “Fryktløs” and is a conversation between the head of security and his friend Jan Hammersmark, who is known as the captain in the TV series “Kompanie Lauridsen”. Both reveal their close relationship.

In the podcast, the defense chief elaborates on the operation, including how special forces used wiretapping, drones and spies in the Valley to gather information before taking action.

Refuses to answer

In the past five months, Ingrid Fiskaa (SV) in the Storting’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee has asked Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram (Sp) three written questions about the move.

Each time, the defense minister refused to answer the parliamentary representative, pointing out that information about the operation was classified.

These are the questions and answers:

11 June 2023

Questions: “What information did the Ministry receive from the Security Special Command (FSK) about the identity of the arrested person and whether he was a target of the operation, and what identification was given in the report made by the FSK following the operation, called a Post Operations Report?”

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Minister’s reply: “Information in this report cannot be published on a ranking basis.”

19 September 2023

Questions: In the fall of 2007, mason Mohammad Naseem was falsely arrested by the Armed Forces Special Command (FSK) in Afghanistan.

When – date and time – did Task Force 51/Forsvaret’s Special Command report to Security Operations Headquarters that the person they arrested was Mohammad Naseem?

Prime Minister’s reply: “…unable to answer without access to confidential information.”

3 November 2023

Questions: In the fall of 2007, mason Mohammad Naseem was falsely arrested by the Armed Forces Special Command (FSK) in Afghanistan. When – date and time – was Task Force 51/Forsvarets Specialkommando cut off from communications and communications systems in Afghanistan after the operation in Tagalog on 17 September 2007?

Minister’s reply: “…unable to respond without access to classified information.”

Research Leader: Lt. Col. Harald Hoiback

– Couldn’t understand

Lieutenant Colonel Harald Hoiback is the author of the book “Warfare”. In the book, Høiback writes about how wars are planned, executed and won.

– If Eirik Kristoffersen talks as much about the operation, I cannot understand why the Minister of Defense cannot answer specific questions, says Høiback.

He insists that he is speaking as a teacher and head of research at the museums of the Norwegian Armed Forces.

– Matters should not be kept secret because they are personally unpleasant or politically motivated. Hoiback says there are no legitimate reasons to standardize anything.

He explains that it is important to be transparent about this.

– Control and learning

– What we do with arms in hand should be as transparent as possible, because we do it not for ourselves, but on behalf of the nation, says the research leader.

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He points to two reasons for transparency:

  • control. A soldier does not fight for himself, but on behalf of the state. There has to be some sort of democratic control over what happens. For closed rooms should be as low as possible.
  • Learning. We must learn to excel, and we must be open to learning. This is how we learn from mistakes. Experiences are what we learn the most from.

– It should be as open as possible, and as closed as necessary, Høiback explains further:

– Operational security and our relationship with other states should govern our transparency on security policy matters, not convenience, says the research leader.

Researcher: Associate Professor Ingwilt Bruce

– Don’t shield managers from criticism

Associate Professor Ingvild Bruce at the Norwegian Police Academy is researching the legal regulation of security and intelligence services.

– Information cannot be standardized to protect staff or managers in the armed forces against criticism, or the armed forces themselves against criticism. Bruce says that if information security is standardized for this purpose, it covers abuse of these rules, and adds:

– Bruce says information security should be standardized if others know it and it harms national security interests.

The researcher explains that such national security interests include safety, security and preparedness as well as Norway’s relationship with other states.

Denies access

During the autumn meeting of the Editors’ Association in 2022, Erik Kristofferson said that the Norwegian Armed Forces should be open about everything – good and bad.

– The armed forces have nothing to hide. Beyond what is absolutely obvious to all of you sitting here and to the people of Norway, we don’t have to keep anything secret in security, Kristoffersen said, adding:

– We have nothing to hide. That’s why we need to be open. Because transparency contributes to trust. Then we have to be open about everything, even the bad, Kristofferson said

VG has sought access to several documents related to the operation, including which name was listed in the arrest report made after the operation.

Applications are rejected.

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Joshi Akinjide

Joshi Akinjide

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