UPDATED: Police in Oslo confirmed on Wednesday that the radical Norwegian Islamist Arfan Bhatti wasn’t the only one to be arrested on the eve of the 17th of May celebrations, which were carrying on amidst heightened terror concerns. Newspaper VG reported that “more than one other person” was in custody, while Bhatti would undergo questioning during the course of Norway’s Constitution Day holiday.
Vegar Munthe Ommedal of the Oslo Police District wouldn’t initially say why police raided Bhatti’s home and arrested him Tuesday evening, but later was charged with violating weapons laws. Bhatti has been convicted several times earlier, for extortion, making threats and violence. Bhatti was most recently sentenced to 14 days in prison for domestic violence and Norway’s Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal.
The former gang member became a radical Islamist several years ago, has been jailed in Pakistan and has been charged with being involved in attacks on both the Israeli and US embassies in Oslo. He was also held in custody in 2009 when the then-new US President Barack Obama came to Oslo to collect his Nobel Peace Prize.
His arrest on Tuesday night comes after the terror threat in Oslo was raised following a terrorist attack in Stockholm last month and a bomb scare in Oslo’s Grønland district. There also have been security concerns tied to the annual 17th of May celebrations.
“Now the plan is to question Arfan Bhatti during the course of the day, then we’ll see what happens,” Ommedal told VG while 17th of May’s Constitution Day celebrations carried on in Oslo and around the country. He said prosecutors hadn’t decided whether to ask a court to hold Bhatti in custody while they investigate the case against him.
His defense attorney, John Christian Elden, suggested the charges against Bhatti are trumped up. “I was informed that he is under arrest and that police are ransacking his home and that his wife and children have been illegally sent out on the street,” Elden told newspaper Dagbladet. Elden implied the police are guilty of illegal search and seizure. Bhatti’s wife and children were later reported to be staying with family members.