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Norway police query Kongsberg attacker’s Muslim faith

Norwegian police on Saturday cast doubt on the narrative that the perpetrator of an attack that left five people dead was a serious convert to Islam.

Pictured is a close up of police car in Vestfold. Photo by Vestfold politidistrikt hundepatrulje on Flickr.
Norwegian police cast doubt on Muslim faith of bow-and-arrow killer as he undergoes psychiatric evaluation. Pictured is a close up of police car in Vestfold. Photo by Vestfold politidistrikt hundepatrulje on Flickr.

Police inspector Per Thomas Omholt told reporters the ongoing investigations had reinforced the idea that the suspect, Danish citizen Espen Andersen Brathen who has admitted the killings, had mental health issues.

READ ALSO: LATEST: Kongsberg bow and arrow attack may have been prompted by mental illness

However, “the thinking is that he did not take (the conversion) very seriously. By this we mean that he did not follow or practise the traditions that are common in this culture and religion,” the inspector said.

Website Nettavisen has published a video Brathen allegedly posted to social media in 2017, in which he issued a “warning” and declared his Muslim faith.

Four women and one man died, and three others were injured on Wednesday during the assault in the south-eastern town of Kongsberg.

It was Norway’s deadliest attack in a decade.

Brathen, 37, has been detained in a medical facility pending psychiatric evaluation.

“All the indications are that he chose his victims at random” and acted alone, Omholt said, describing Brathen as “not very social”.

The police also named the dead: Andrea Meyer, 52, Hanne Merethe Englund, 56, Liv Berit Borge, 75, Gunnar Erling Sauve, 75 and Gun Marith Madsen, 78.

The three people injured, who have not been identified, have all been released from hospital.

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BREAKING

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

Prosecutors in Sweden are now treating the murder at the Almedalen political festival as a terror crime, with the country's Säpo security police taking over the investigation.

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

In a press release issued on Monday evening, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said that the 32-year-old attacker, Theodor Engström, was now suspected of the crime of “terrorism through murder”, and also “preparation for a terror crime through preparation for murder”. 

Engström stabbed the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren last Wednesday as she was on her way to moderate a seminar at the Almedalen political festival on the island of Gotland. 

Although he was a former member of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, police said his motive seemed to be to protest against Sweden’s psychiatry services, who he felt had treated his own mental illness badly. 

The release gave no details as to why the 32-year-old was now being investigated for a more serious crime, but terror expert Magnus Ranstorp told the Expressen newspaper that the shift indicated that police had uncovered new evidence. 

READ ALSO: What do we now know about the Almedalen knife attack? 

“The new crime classification means that they’ve either found a political motive for the attack which meets the threshold for terrorism, and that might be a political motive for murdering Ing-Marie Wieselgren,” he said. “Or they might have discovered that he was scouting out a politician, or another target that could be considered political.” 

Engström’s defence lawyer said last week that his client, who he described as disturbed and incoherent, had spoken in police interrogations of having “a higher-up target”. 

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