Bærum mosque shooting
The Bærum mosque shooting or Al-Noor Islamic Centre shooting was an attack that occurred on 10 August 2019 at the Al-Noor Islamic Centre mosque in Bærum, Norway, about 20 km west of the capital city Oslo. One person was injured, and the gunman's stepsister was later found dead in their family home. The shooter was taken into police custody after being subdued by mosque-goers.
|Bærum mosque shooting|
|Part of Right-wing terrorism in Europe|
Al-Noor Islamic Centre in Bærum
|Location||Al-Noor Islamic Centre, Bærum, Norway|
|Date||August 10, 2019 |
approx. 16:00 (CEST UTC+02:00)
|Weapons||22 caliber rifle, rifle, shotgun   |
|Deaths||1 (prior to attack)|
|2 (including the perpetrator)|
|Motive||White nationalism, Islamophobia|
|Charges||Act of terror, murder[a]|
The shooter, identified as Philip Manshaus, was reportedly wearing a uniform and helmet when he entered the mosque, shooting his way through the locked door. He was carrying two shotguns or "shotgun-like" weapons and a pistol, opening fire in the room. Prayers had just ended, with only three elders remaining in the mosque. One of the men approached Manshaus before pinning him down and moving his weapons away. The two began to struggle, with Manshaus injuring him. Another of the men in the room then hit Manshaus on the head to subdue him. The police were called at 16:07 local time. Manshaus was in a chokehold when police arrived at the mosque. Manshaus appeared in the court two days after the attack, 12 August 2019, with his face and neck marked by bruises and scratches.
One person was killed, prior to the main attack, and another was injured whilst preventing the attack occurring.
The suspect is Philip Manshaus, a 21-year-old Norwegian man who lived near the area of the shooting. He was indicted for terrorism and murder. The police have stated that Manshaus is refusing to speak to them, and that he was already known to law enforcement but did not have a "criminal background". The national broadcaster NRK spoke with some of his neighbors. One described him as ordinary, saying he had helped her with household tasks before, though another claimed he had not been very happy when he was young, with several neighbors also suggesting that a family bereavement a few years earlier had hit him quite hard, and that in the last year he had turned increasingly to religion and extremism. Norwegian police had stated the day after the attack that they were planning to give the suspect a mental health assessment. In the official questioning session, Manshaus decleared that his goal was to intimidate Muslims in Norway.
Shortly before the attack, someone using the name Philip Manshaus was active on a web forum that has been variously reported as 4chan and 8chan, but was confirmed to be a copycat forum called EndChan. His retrieved messages include telling people that "it's my time, i was elected by saint tarrant" (sic), asking those he was messaging to "bump the race war thread irl", and saying that "Valhalla awaits". Several intermediary messages had been removed. The messages are seen as praising Brenton Tarrant, the perpetrator of the Christchurch mosque shootings in March 2019, and refer to him as "saint tarrant". The Christchurch shootings were inspired by, among other things, the 22/7 attacks that happened in Norway in 2011. The user also posted a meme depicting Tarrant, Patrick Crusius, and John T. Earnest as "heroes". All three perpetrated racially and/or religiously motivated gun murders in 2019, including Crusius' attack on a Walmart in El Paso, Texas only a week earlier. Manshaus' posts also reportedly feature him describing himself as the "third disciple"; internet extremism researchers connect this with the rhetoric of Tarrant, suggesting the other 'disciples' would be Earnest and Crusius. Online, Manshaus has also praised Vidkun Quisling, who headed a domestic Nazi collaborationist regime during World War II, and expressed far-right, anti-immigration views.
Manshaus' 17-year-old stepsister Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen was found dead in their home. She was born in Jiangxi, China, and adopted at 2 years old by Manshaus' stepmother. Manshaus has been charged with her murder.
The injured man was 65-year-old Mohammad Rafiq, a Pakistani retired Air Force officer who had been living in Norway for two and a half years at the time of the attack. He is a frequent visitor to Al-Noor Islamic Center in Bærum. Rafiq engaged Manshaus and overpowered him before he could attack anyone else in the mosque, pinning him down and moving his weapons away. His injuries have been described as "minor", and were not gunshot wounds: they were inflicted by his attacker's hands as he tried to break free from being restrained. The attacker tried to gouge his left eye.
Authorities reported that security in Norway may become increased after the attack, as it occurred during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, with the Prime Minister raising the national security the following day. The Al-Noor Islamic Centre had already added extra security after the Christchurch mosque shootings. According to local Norwegian media, the mosque said that security would be improved again.
The Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, condemned the attack. Solberg and Abid Raja, a Liberal Norwegian politician, spoke together on the day of the attack, assuring the public that places of worship should be safe and calling for plans to break down Islamophobia in the country. Another reaction to the incident was a speech given by Siv Jensen, the leader of the right-wing Progress Party, normally considered anti-immigration, who also referred to Rafiq as a hero. The day after the attack, on the Eid al-Adha celebration day, Solberg and other important figures, as well as the men from the mosque, attended a ceremony in solidarity held in Sandvika.
As the shooting spread in media, so did the actions of Rafiq and the other man in the mosque, which a Danish newspaper described as "courageous"; several media outlets, primarily in Norway but also some foreign ones, described Rafiq as a "hero".
A Norwegian philanthropist, Elisabeth Norheim, started a fundraising campaign on a Norwegian crowdfunding website. to help raise money so Rafiq and the other man who helped subdue the attack could undertake the hajj. After the initial goal of 55,000 NOK (~ 6100 USD) for the cost of the two to travel was surpassed, with more than 180,000 NOK (~20,000 USD) raised in one day, the organizers said they could also fund the hajj for the third man in the mosque during the attack. The fund raised was later passed the adjusted goal of 230,000 NOK (~25,000 USD).
On 15 August 2019, a ceremony was held at the Sandvika Police House to praise Rafiq and the other man for their actions. It was hosted by Beate Gangås, the Oslo Police Commander-in-Chief, and Lisbeth Hammer Krogh, the mayor of Bærum.
Investigation and criminal proceedingsEdit
The Norwegian Police Security Service said that they received a tip about Manshaus approximately one year prior to the attack. After coordinating with the local police department, Oslo Police District, they found that the tip was vague and showed no signs of imminent terror planning activities. The tip was not followed up. Norwegian police reported that they have spoken with Manshaus previously because of his online behavior.
When police searched the suspect's address after the attack, a young woman was found dead at the home.
On 12 August 2019, in a court hearing in Oslo District Court, Manshaus was put in pre-trial jail for four weeks with no visitation, mail or media access. Manshaus declared himself not guilty and called to be released.
It has been reported that when the members of the mosque called the police, the incident was initially classified as low-priority and the police would not respond; the men struggled trying to convey the situation to the operator.
There have also been claims that a user of an online forum had tried to notify the Norwegian police three times that he suspected an attack would happen, but that local police told him to call the FBI. Police say they are aware of this allegation, but that they are not aware of any such call.
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