Police in Oslo announced on Friday that they’ve issued international arrest warrants for a Norwegian citizen in his 40s after linking him to a mass shooting in the Norwegian capital in late June. The shooting, which left two dead and 21 wounded, is widely believed to have targeted the Pride movement and considered to be a terrorist attack.
The gunman, 43-year-old Zania Matapour, was arrested at the scene, remains in police custody and is currently undergoing psychiatric observation at the Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen.
Matapour is charged with murder, attempted murder and for carrying out a terrorist act but has consistently refused to speak when police have questioned him. He has not revealed any motive for the late-night mass shooting in an area where Pride celebrations were taking place.
Police don’t believe he acted alone and have now charged the new suspect in the case while refusing to release his identity. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) has reported, however, that the man charged is Arfan Bhatti, a Norwegian Islamic extremist with a long record of violence.
Bhatti, convicted for firing shots at a synagogue in Oslo in 2006, also has a record of convictions for making threats, extortion and violence. He hailed the late terrorist Osama bin Laden, who was behind terrorist attacks on the US, and supports sharia law. His former defense attorney, John Christian Elden, told NRK that Bhatti most recently has been living at “a known address” in Pakistan.
NRK has reported earlier that Matapour has had contact with Bhatti, who also published a photo of a Pride flag being burned on his Facebook page just 10 days before the mass shooting. The photo was accompanied by a citation urging the murder of homosexuals.
Elden is currently serving as defense attorney for Matapour and said it would not be possible for him to defend the new suspect in the case as well. NRK reported that job has been taken on by defense attorney Svein Holden, a former state prosecutor who was part of the team pressing charges against the Norwegian right-wing extremist who carried out a series of attacks on July 22, 2011 that killed 77 people in Oslo and on the island of Utøya.