Norwegian police cast doubt on Islamist motive

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Norwegian police investigating Wednesday’s deadly attack in the southeastern town of Kongsberg said that they were moving away from initial suspicions that Islamist motives were behind the bow-and-arrow shootings.

Speaking at a press conference, police inspector Per Thomas Omholt said there was reason to believe that the suspect, who is in custody, was not a convinced convert to Islam as was initially thought.

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

Omholt said the killing spree, in which five people died and three were injured, was more likely to have been a result of mental illness.

He added that investigators believed the suspect had acted alone.

The suspect, a 37-year-old Dane, had allegedly posted a video on social media in 2017 in which he claimed to be a Muslim and a messenger, and to have a “mission.” Espen Andersen Braathen, a 37-year-old Danish citizen who has lived for most of his life in Norway’s Kongsberg municipality where the attacks took place

Norway’s domestic intelligence agency had not seen the video as a criminal threat as the statements were not specific, Martin Bernsen of the Police Security Service (PST) told the Norwegian News Agency (NTB) on Friday.

The man, who was known to the PST from 2015, has been detained in a medical facility pending psychiatric evaluation. He is reportedly not yet fit to be questioned.

The attack was Norway’s deadliest in a decade.

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