Norway has again been shocked by an act of terror. On Saturday evening a 20-year-old man, armed with two shotguns and a gun, entered a mosque in Baerum, one of the suburbs of the capital Oslo. He may have wanted to do some bloodbath there.
When the man invaded, three believers were present. A 75-year-old man is said to have overpowered the perpetrator by taking hold of him and sitting on top of him. The man himself sustained minor injuries. Later a dead woman was found in his home in Baerum. She turned out to be the perpetrator’s 17-year-old step-sister.
Research by the police showed that the man has extreme right views. All sorts of expressions showed that he was very hostile towards migrants. He also had sympathy for Vidkun Quisling, the Norwegian leader who shrouded Nazi war and was sentenced to death in 1945 for treason. According to media reports, the man had previously praised the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. In addition, a right-wing extremist shot 51 people in March. The mosque in Baerum shares the name al-Noor with the mosques in Christchurch.
“We see this as a terrorist act,” the police announced on Sunday. Norway was already the site of one of the biggest terrorist attacks by an extreme right-wing terrorist. In July 2011, Anders Breivik killed 77 people. He exploded a bomb in Oslo, killing eight people. Then he shot randomly on the island of Utøya at young people who had a meeting there from a section of the Social Democratic party. That still cost 69 people their lives.
The suspect, who was wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest, is also a white Norwegian. According to the police, he refused to make a statement. After the attack, the Norwegian police announced an increase in their presence at other mosques in the country. However, there are no “concrete threats,” according to the national police leadership on Sunday. There is also no suspicion that he had co-perpetrators. How his step sister died and what that had to do with the attack remains a mystery for the time being.
The perpetrator entered the Al Noor mosque by forcing the closed door with bullets. According to a spokesperson for the mosque, more than twelve people were present for a prayer session five minutes earlier. They had left just in time. The three people present remained for reading the Quran.
Last weekend, Muslims around the world celebrated the Sacrifice Feast, a religious feast associated with the end of the annual Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims have to make once in their lives. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg visited Sunday members of the Muslim community in Baerum, who had gathered in a hotel to celebrate the Feast of Sacrifice.