The Finnish vigilante group Soldiers of Odin has been successfully spreading its anti-migrant, anti-Islam across northern Europe over the past few months. But now, Islamists in neighboring Norway have begun mobilizing their own organization to counter the movement.
Soldiers of Odin was formed in Finland in November following an influx of Syrian refugees. Members of the right-wing citizen group, some of whom are self-described Neo-Nazis, characterize themselves as "patriots fighting for a white Finland." The group gained momentum after the New Year's Eve attacks in Cologne, Germany, where hundreds of women were sexually assaulted by migrant men. Odin now claims to have 600 members in more than 25 cells across Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Germany, Estonia and Hungary, with supporters also as far away as Britain and the United States.
The messaging of the various chapters has been inconsistent, to put it charitably — some outwardly hostile to Muslims and other migrants, while others claiming not to be driven by racism or religious bigotry. The Norwegian chapter of the group made its debut in southern Norway in mid-February. Spokesman Ronny Alte — former leader of the Norwegian Defense League and an activist in another anti-migrant group Pegida — told local newspaper Verdens Gang that they are not about "religion and skin color," but simply want "a safe city."
But on Wednesday, a group calling themselves "Soldiers of Allah," announced that "we Muslims have decided to create our own group." The vast majority of its members are also part of the group "Prophet's Ummah," whose spokesman Ubaydullah Hussain is currently being held on charges of recruiting for ISIS.
A "Soldiers of Allah" source tells Verdens Gang that the planned uniform will be a sweatshirt adorned with the black flag of ISIS.