As reported in Vårt Land (‘Our Country’ – a Norwegian newspaper) on Saturday 12 September, BCC has over several years been exposed to a professional influence operation with a stated aim to “put an end to the organisation’s continued existence.” For BCC it is essential that all the facts come on the table, and that disinformation is brought to an end.
By Berit Hustad Nilsen
What has happened
- The influence operation was commissioned from the Israeli company Psy-Group, which is known for its extreme techniques. It was commissioned via Amsterdam in 2015 and had the objective to “put an end to the organisation’s existence”.
- Disinformation from the influence operation has been spread amongst Norwegian and foreign media, authorities and other parties.
- Fake profiles and websites have been created in USA, Holland and Norway.
- There has been campaigns on social media.
- The influence operation was exposed by the magazine, The New Yorker.
How does distorted information spread and influence?
While the operation has been ongoing, BCC has been exposed to a series of circumstances, which we suspect are connected to the influence operation. Combined these have constituted a serious threat to the faith community’s existence, exactly as per the operation’s stated goal. We therefore consider that these events, directly or indirectly, have their origin in the disinformation spread by the influence operation.
- Fires, vandalism and threats against several persons have been reported to the Norwegian National Criminal Investigation Service (KRIPOS). The case has been closed without being investigated.
- Prominent BCC members have been investigated by Økokrim the Norwegian financial crime department (Økokrim) over several years, based on false accusations of enriching themselves at the expense of church members. The case against them was closed with them being completely cleared by the Norwegian financial crime department.
- Our 60 year old bank relationship has since 2018, without good reason, given the impression that they consider that we do not have a right to a basic bank service. BCC together with Brunstad Ungdomsklubb (Youth Club) have gone to court to get clarity. The case is not yet scheduled.
- Accusations of illegal volunteer work led to Arbeidstilsynet Sør-Norge (south Norway’s employment supervisory body) instigating two supervisory cases. Both cases ended with full victory for the volunteers, thanks to the intervention of Arbeids- og sosialdepartementets (the work and social department).
- Accusations of economic exploitation of members. Click here to see members clear response.
A serious problem for society
Over the coming time more consequences of this influence operation will continue to be discovered. We consider that this phenomenon, that someone has a business of selling influence operations, is a serious problem for society which needs to be debated at a higher level. Society needs to be better prepared and equipped for the next time someone is subject to this.
Roar Thon, technical director of the Nasjonal Sikkerhetsmyndighet (National Security Authority) says in the wider context that it is difficult to say how common influence operations are in Norway:
– There is reason to believe that Norwegian authorities and media have been subject to attempted influence by influence operations.
As Vårt Land (‘Our Country’ – a Norwegian newspaper) writes in today’s article, both public information and private investigation have led to a body of of evidence that it is authorities and media organisations in particular that have been subject to attempted influence. It is extremely burdensome for us and our members to be exposed to repeated criminalizing accusations, despite the lies being duly disproved and the truth evidenced in several instances. There is little that a faith community can do to prevent this, but now we are in the middle of exposing and clearing up after the large challenges that the disinformation from this operation has led to.
We want to get all the facts on the table, so if anyone has input or questions in connection with this we would be grateful if you would contact us.
This is what bcc.no has written about this since The New Yorker exposed it in February 2019.
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