Newspapers VG and Aftenposten and several other Norwegian media outlets were reporting Wednesday afternoon that the man police arrested for making threats against the Norwegian Parliament earlier in the day is an anti-Islamist with ties to the ultra-right organization Norwegian Defence League. Police have confirmed that he has a police record and a history of making threats.
VG reported that it had secured confirmation from several sources that police are holding a 27-year-old right-wing extremist, which can help explain the massive police reaction to threats the man made while riding on a bus from Hønefoss to Sandvika Tuesday night. When the bus driver reported to police that he’d overheard the man threaten to bomb Norway’s Parliament (Stortinget), and police managed to identify him, their response was swift and, in their own words, drastic: A dozen police cars sent to the last place where the man was seen in a residential neighbourhood of Oslo, another dozen sent to the Parliament, the police helicopter in the air, heavily armed police on the streets and assistance from state police intelligence unit PST.
It was a right-wing extremist who bombed Norway’s government headquarters just up the street from the Parliament on July 22, 2011 and later unleashed a massacre on the island of Utøya, killing 77 persons. “We didn’t want to take any chances,” police staff chief Johan Fredriksen told reporters at a press conference while the hunt for their suspect was still going on.
The suspect, reports VG, has made several hateful remarks about Norwegian authorities, with Aftenposten reporting that he has called Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and the rest of the government’s ministers “traitors.” He has also published several slanderous comments about Norway’s Minister of Culture, Hadia Tajik, who is Muslim and has parents born in Pakistan.
Aftenposten reported that he published the following text on his Facebook profile just a few days ago: “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
He is born and reared in Norway and comes from Hønefoss, a relatively small town located northwest of Oslo. One of his childhood friends told VG that the suspect has “become extremely racist recently. He has published many threats on Facebook, and threatens among other things to kill foreigners.”
The suspect also reportedly has published photos of himself holding a rifle pointed at the camera, with text reading that he intended to defend himself against “blacks and immigrants.”
No immediate comment
Fredriksen wouldn’t comment on VG’s information, noting that the man hadn’t yet undergone police questioning nor had he asked for a defense attorney. Fredriksen did repeat that the suspect had lodged threats earlier according to “folks familiar with his behaviour,” without that behaviour “necessarily” involving illegal acts.
Police said he has admitted being on the bus Tuesday night and confirmed that they found a pistol and a bullet-proof vest when they arrested him around noon at an apartment at Lambertseter on Oslo’s east side. Police also raided another home tied to the man Wednesday afternoon but wouldn’t report what if anything was seized.
Neighbours describe the suspect as “anonymous” and that they seldom saw him. One said that loud music, though, often came from his house where he apparently lived alone. A surveillance camera was mounted on one of its walls, and a sign warned that his property was under surveillance.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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