Man held over attack on Norwegian mosque ‘inspired by Christchurch suspect’

Man held over attack on Norwegian mosque ‘inspired by Christchurch suspect’
Flowers are left outside the house where the body of the stepsister of the suspected gunman was found, in Baerum, Norway, today. Pic: AP

A suspected gunman accused of an attempted terrorist attack on a mosque in Norway and separately killing his teenage stepsister “will use his right not to explain himself for now” in a detention hearing, his defence lawyer has said.

Unni Fries declined to comment on Norwegian media reports that the suspect was inspired by shootings in New Zealand, where a gunman killed 51 people in March, and on August 3 in El Paso, Texas, which left at least 22 dead.

Her client was arrested on Saturday after he entered the Al-Noor Islamic Centre in Baerum, an Oslo suburb.

Police said the suspect was waving weapons but did not specify what type.

One person was slightly injured before people inside the mosque held the suspect until police arrived on the scene.

Police then raided the suspect’s nearby house and found the body of his 17-year-old stepsister. He is also suspected in her killing, police said, but did not provide details.

The suspect has not been identified by officials but Norwegian media reported he was a 21-year-old Norwegian man named Philip Manshaus.

Suspected gunman Philip Manshaus appears in court, in Oslo, Norway, today. Pic: AP
Suspected gunman Philip Manshaus appears in court, in Oslo, Norway, today. Pic: AP

The head of Norway’s domestic security agency said today officials had received a “vague” tip a year ago about the suspect, but it was not sufficient to act because officials had no information about any “concrete plans” of attack.

Hans Sverre Sjoevold, head of Norway’s PST agency, told a news conference that the agency and the police receive many tips from worried people every day and the information “didn’t go in the direction of an imminent terror planning”.

The suspect smiled as he appeared in court today with dark bruises under both eyes and scratches across his face and neck.

Police had said that he was prepared to cause deaths and more injuries but did not succeed because people inside the mosque helped neutralise him.

Dagbladet, one of Norway largest newspapers, reported that on day of the attack, Manshaus wrote online he had been “chosen” by “Saint (Brenton) Tarrant”, the suspected Christchurch gunman.

The name of the Oslo mosque is similar to the one in the New Zealand attacks.

Prosecutors want him held on terror charges for four weeks.

The country’s prime minister Erna Solberg called the attempted attack a “direct attack on Norwegian Muslims”.

Police at the scene of the shooting inside the al-Noor Islamic centre mosque in Baerum outside Oslo, Norway on Saturday. Pic: AP
Police at the scene of the shooting inside the al-Noor Islamic centre mosque in Baerum outside Oslo, Norway on Saturday. Pic: AP

The suspect’s thwarted plans recall those of the Norwegian right-wing extremist who in 2011 killed 77 people in 2011.

Anders Behring Breivik is serving a 21-year prison sentence for carrying out a terror attack.

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