Radical Norwegian Islamist believed under arrest in Pakistan

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UPDATED: Arfan Bhatti, the former Oslo gang member and convicted felon who became a radical Islamist and headed for the Middle East last fall, reportedly was arrested in the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan earlier this year. Newspaper VG reports that he’s believed to be held by Pakistani security agents and may be subject to torture.

Bhatti, best remembered for being charged with terrorism in Norway after shots were fired at Oslo’s synagogue, has also threatened the US and Israeli embassies and was held for alleged family violence as late as last year. Shortly after taking part in a demonstration in Oslo last fall, he left Norway and later published photos of himself brandishing automatic weapons in a mountainous desert area.

His family reported him missing in January, which is when VG reports he was arrested. Amnesty International fears he may be subject to torture at the hands of Pakistani agents. “The information coming forth makes us very concerned about Arfan Bhatti’s safety,” Gerald Folkvord of Amnesty International Norge told VG last week. Amnesty expects Norwegian authorities to demand clarification about Bhatti’s status from their Pakistani counterparts and demand that his rights as a Norwegian citizen be ensured. “He must either be arrested officially or released,” Folkvord told VG. “He must be allowed to speak with the Norwegian embassy, get an attorney and demand his rights.”

Frode O Andersen of the Foreign Ministry said Norwegian authorities must relate to the information they get from Pakistani police, who initially only listed Bhatti as missing but later added that Bhatti is “suspected of serious crime” in Pakistan. Andersen, who claimed earlier last week that “the information we have contains no grounds for claiming he’s imprisoned or arrested,” later said the foreign ministry still didn’t know where Bhatti was: “We’re actively trying to clarify this … in close contact with Pakistani authorities.”

newsinenglish.no staff