By: Tarik Johnson
Police in Norway arrested Philip Manshaus, 21, on Saturday for shooting at people in Al-Noor Islamic Center in Baerum, around twelve miles from Oslo. Imran Mushtaq, a board member at the Al-Noor mosque, told NRK, the Norwegian government-owned radio and television public broadcasting company and the largest media organisation in Norway, that more than a dozen people were praying inside the mosque just ten minutes before the suspect arrived. By the time the shooting began, only three older men were left inside.
The suspect, who wore body armor and a helmet entered by shooting through the mosque's locked glass door, Mushtaq said. Two weapons were found inside the mosque and are believed to be connected to the suspect, police said. A 75-year-old member of the congregation was injured in the shooting Mushtaq told TV2.
Witnesses said Mohamed Rafiq, a 65-year-old man who tackled the gunman, restrained the terror suspect and held him down with Mohamed Iqbal until police arrived, despite being injured in the struggle. Rune Skjold, Assistant Chief of Police, praised the “great courage” shown by Mr Rafiq and Mr Iqbal in restraining the gunman after several shots were fired, adding: “There is no doubt that their efforts prevented this from having entirely different consequences.” Speaking to press outside a nearby hotel on Sunday, Mr Rafiq said: “I’m thankful for all of the help and support I have received.”
After detaining the suspect, police raided the suspect's nearby house and found the body of his 17-year-old stepsister. Officials said that he was prepared to cause more deaths and injuries but didn't succeed because people inside the mosque helped neutralize him. Officials did not confirm how the bruises around his face and head, seen clearly in court on Monday, were sustained.
The gunman's Attorney Unni Fries declined to comment on the report by Dagbladet, one of Norway's largest newspapers, that on the day of the attack Manshaus wrote online that he had been "chosen" by "Saint (Brenton) Tarrant," the Christchurch gunman. On Monday Hans Sverre Sjøvold head of Norway's domestic security agency PST said, the agency had received a tipoff about Manshaus last year but did not investigate further. “There was nothing in that tipoff that suggested there was danger of an act of terrorism or that planning of an attack was under way.”
A judge gave police permission to hold Manshaus in custody for an initial four weeks while he is investigated on suspicion of murder and breaching anti-terrorism laws. Prosecutors said: “The investigation is still in an early phase and the suspect has not made any statements to the police.”