Questions swirl around Russian terrorist

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Even his own Norwegian defense attorney is calling him “a danger to life and health,” and strongly supported that the 20-year-old man who said he “wanted to kill several people” in Oslo last week was ordered held in custody over the weekend.

The woman he stabbed in an Oslo grocery store on Thursday survived two rounds of emergency surgery, meanwhile, and was taken off a respirator at Ullevål University Hospital on Sunday. Police still believe the 25-year-old woman was a random victim.

‘Surreal’
Her brother told reporters that the critically-injured woman was able to speak and was doing relatively well, but was exhausted. Her family described the attack as “surreal” and was grateful that she quickly received help and was rushed to hospital. She was standing in the cashier’s line at a Kiwi grocery store when the 20-year-old Russian literally stabbed her in the back, with witnesses saying he held the knife with two hands.

Police say he arrived in Oslo by bus on Wednesday after traveling via Sweden. He spent the night at a local hostel before attacking the woman at midday on Thursday and then turning on the cashier before running out of the store. The cashier was not injured.

Ola Lunde, who’s been appointed as his defense attorney, called him “unstable” and that he expressed a belief that “all Christians deserve to die.” Lunde called his custody “necessary, out of consideration to the public. And I say that even though I’m defending him.”

Otherwise, according to Lunde, “he could go out and take a bus and carry out another terrorist attack. I view him as unstable and mentally disturbed.”

Why Norway?
Questions were swirling over why he chose to travel onward from Sweden to Norway. He has stated that he came to Norway to kill, and that he’s “here to carry out a major attack,” with Lunde adding that Norway also may have been a random choice. “He could have gone to another European country,” Lunde said, but his client told him that he thinks “we have it so good here. There’s economic affluence here, which is in great contrast to his poor background.”

He came from Basjkortostan, a mostly Muslim republic located in the southern Ural mountains with a population of around 4 million. Lunde said his client is poor, thin and complained that he has often been starving, but that raises questions about how he financed a trip to Norway. Lunde described him as “a lone wolf” who denies having any ties to Islamic extremist groups like Al-Qaida or IS.

Norway’s police intelligence unit PST is nonetheless investigating whether any others were involved in his trip. The Oslo County Court, in ordering him held mostly in isolation, cited a “real possibility” that he could tamper with evidence or communicate with others who were “potentially involved.”

The Russian Embassy in Oslo confirmed on its own website that a Russian citizen had been arrested for the stabbing and that the embassy was in contact with Norwegian police. “We have offered assistance as we always do, for good or bad,” Russian Ambassador Teimuraz Otarovich Ramishvili told newspaper Aftenposten. He added, though, that police had responded that they didn’t know whether the 20-year-old would accept the embassy’s offer of help.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund