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Report finds Oslo shooting could have been avoided

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Report finds Oslo shooting could have been avoided
Flowers and a rainbow flag are seen near the crime scene on June 25, 2022, in the aftermath of a shooting outside pubs and nightclubs in central Oslo killing two people injuring many more (Photo by Olivier MORIN / NTB / AFP)

Had information of a potential attack been followed up by intelligence services, a shooting that left two people dead in Oslo last June could have been prevented, a report in the incident has found.

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The attack, which left two people dead and more than 20 people injured, could have been prevented if the Police Security Service (PST) had launched a preventive case against Zaniar Matapour, who is in custody on suspicion of carrying out the attack.

“It is possible that the attack on the night of June 25th 2022, could have been prevented if the PST had opened a preventive case against Zaniar Matapour in the months leading up to the attack,” the report said.

The shootings are believed to be an attack against the LGBT community because the shooting took partially took part at the London Pub, a popular gay bar in Oslo.

Matapour had been identified as a potential threat several years prior to the attack taking place, the report states. In the spring of 2022, PST was concerned that Arfan Bhatti, an extremist who has also been charged in connection with the attack, would use a vulnerable and radicalised Matapor to carry out politically motivated attacks.

During an emergency meeting between the Defense Intelligence Service and the PST five days before the attack, information that somebody had tried contacting the terrorist organisation IS about a planned attack was shared with the PST.

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The intelligence service assessed that was most likely extremist Arfan Bhatti who was abroad at the time. Intelligence services believed that someone other than Bhatti would carry out the attack.

Bhatti remains in custody in Pakistan with the authorities trying to get him extradited to Norway. Two others are also being held on suspicion of being involved with the attack.  

The report writes that the PST could have probably identified the potential perpetrator of such an attack if intelligence services investigated who was in contact with Bhatti.

“Had the Norwegian Intelligence Service investigated who could be a possible perpetrator of such an attack in Norway that Bhatti was involved in, they would, with a high degree of probability, have identified Matapour as one of the few candidates above a certain threat level and with a known relationship to Bhatti. Thus, the PST could initiate reconnaissance against Matapour in the days leading up to the attack,” the report stated.

Commissioned by the police and the PST, the report recommends PST lower the threshold for opening preventative cases.

The Police Directorate and the PST will meet with the Minister of Justice, Emilie Engher Mehl, on Friday morning to discuss how to respond to the recommendations outlined in the report. 

"It will take some time to familiarise yourself with all aspects of it. But it hurts to read that the attack could possibly have been avoided. I expect PST to take this very seriously," she said at a press conference on Thursday. 

The minister also said that the shooting could be classified as a terrorist attack. 

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