Since mid-July, Arfan Bhatti has been questioned twice by the Pakistani police. There, among other things, he has been asked about his knowledge of Zaniar Matapour.
23 Sep 2022 10:49
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One man has been charged with complicity in terrorism in Oslo following the mass shooting in Oslo earlier this year. This is what the Oslo police said at a press conference about the shooting on Friday.
Police prosecutor Børge Enoksen says the person is in his 40s and a Norwegian citizen. He is known to the police from earlier. The police will not comment on why the man has now been charged. Nor will they release the name of the person concerned.
As far as Aftenposten knows, it is about Arfan Bhatti. He was a leading figure in the Prophet’s Ummah movement. The group became known for recruiting a number of Norwegians to fight for IS in Syria.
Furthermore, Aftenposten is informed that the police believe that he is in Pakistan, and that they have asked the Pakistani police for assistance in the case.
In addition, Bhatti is now wanted via the international police cooperation Interpol.
– He is charged with complicity in terrorism, Enoksen said at today’s press conference.
The police are not releasing names
Aftenposten spoke briefly to Enoksen after the press conference.
– Aftenposten is informed that it is Arfan Bhatti. Why won’t you say the name?
– The police basically have a duty of confidentiality around it, and there must be special reasons for us to release names. But then we will have to make a continuous assessment of it in due course.
– Isn’t an act of terrorism precisely a special reason?
– It could be, says Enoksen.
Interrogated in Pakistan
John Christian Elden, Bhatti’s former defender, confirms to Aftenposten that Bhatti has twice been questioned by the Pakistani police.
The interrogations were carried out on behalf of the Norwegian police.
The first questioning took place on 20 July this year.
There, according to Elden, he was questioned as a witness in connection with the discovery of a knife during a demonstration against Sian. He was also questioned about his knowledge of terrorist suspect Zaniar Matapour.
The police do not rule out that there may be more charges for complicity.
– I can confirm that PST is assisting the Oslo police district in the case, says Martin Bernsen, senior adviser at PST.
Bhatti has asked for a new defense attorney. The change of defense takes place to avoid a conflict of interest. Matapour is already being defended by Bernt Heiberg, who works at Elden’s law office.
Lawyer Svein Holden is Bhatti’s new defender. When asked by Aftenposten how the 45-year-old stands up to the police charges, Holden answers
– I can confirm that the person who is wanted has requested that I be appointed as his defender. Beyond that, I have no comment.
– Have you spoken to your client today?
– I have no comment beyond what I have said.
The perpetrator connected with Bhatti earlier
Zaniar Matapour shot and killed two people and injured 21 outside the two pubs Per på kørnket and London in central Oslo on 25 June. He was armed with a submachine gun and a pistol when he attacked.
He has so far refused to explain himself to the police.
Matapour has a long history of violence and threats. PST believes he belonged to an extreme Islamist milieu.
He has been linked with Arfan Bhatti. The police have known about Matapour since 2015. At the latest in May, they had a so-called concern interview with him.
Bhatti shared posts about the murder of gay people on Facebook shortly before the Oslo terror attack. Facebook subsequently closed Bhatti’s account.
Matapour is charged with murder, attempted murder and terrorism. Since he ended up in custody, he has been in solitary confinement in prison.
Called it terror early on
The police’s security service (PST) already referred to the attack as an extreme Islamist terrorist act on the same day.
PST’s statements made Matapour’s defenders see red. They believed that the security service distributed blame far too soon when they branded the act as terrorism.
– The hypothesis that the attack was carried out with terrorist intent has been strengthened. It has its background in the fact that we have charged a person with complicity, says police attorney Børge Enoksen to Aftenposten.