A suspected gunman accused of an attempted terrorist attack on an Oslo mosque and separately killing his teenage stepsister appeared in court Monday for a hearing, but his defense lawyer said he “will use his right not to explain himself for now.” The suspect, with two black eyes and other bruising around his head possibly sustained when Muslim worshippers swarmed onto him during the alleged attack, smiled in court.
Attorney Unni Fries declined to comment on Norwegian media reports that the suspect was inspired by shootings in New Zealand, where a gunman killed 51 people in March, and on Aug. 3 in El Paso, Texas, which left at least 22 dead.
Her client was arrested Saturday after he entered the Al-Noor Islamic Center in Baerum, an Oslo suburb. Police said several shots were fired but did not specify what type of weapon was used. One person was slightly injured before people inside the mosque tackled and held the suspect until police arrived on the scene.
Police then raided the suspect’s nearby house and found the body of his 17-year-old stepsister.
Police had said that he was prepared to cause deaths and more 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 suspect has not been identified by officials but Norwegian media have reported that he is a 21-year-old Norwegian man named Philip Manshaus. Dagbladet, one of Norway’s largest newspapers, reported that on day of the attack, Manshaus wrote online he had been “chosen” by “Saint (Brenton) Tarrant”, the Christchurch gunman.
Prosecutors want the suspect held on terror charges for four weeks.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg called the attempted attack a “direct attack on Norwegian Muslims.”
The suspect’s thwarted plans recall those of the Norwegian right-wing extremist who killed 77 people in 2011. Anders Behring Breivik is serving a 21-year prison sentence for carrying out a terror attack.