Norwegian police now doubt Islamist motive for Kongsberg attacks
Norwegian Minister of Justice and Emergency Management Emilie Enger Mehl (L) lays flowers and lights candles for the victims of a violent armed attack that left five people killed and two injured on Wednesday night, alongside Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store. Terje Bendiksby/NTB/dpa
Norwegian Minister of Justice and Emergency Management Emilie Enger Mehl (L) lays flowers and lights candles for the victims of a violent armed attack that left five people killed and two injured on Wednesday night, alongside Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store. Terje Bendiksby/NTB/dpa

Following the violent attack in the Norwegian town of Kongsberg that left five dead on Wednesday, investigators say they are increasingly doubtful that the act was motivated by Islamist ideology.

It now appears likely that the suspect did not actually convert to Islam as originally believed, police inspector Thomas Omholt said at a Saturday press conference. Instead, mental illness is increasingly thought to have led to the killing spree.

The 37-year-old Dane has admitted he killed five people in central Kongsberg on Wednesday night. The man shot at numerous people with a bow and arrow.

The PST security police had already received tips in 2015 about the Danish national, who has been remanded in custody for four weeks, Arne Christian Haugstoyl, head of counter-terrorism at PST, told the Verdens Gang newspaper.

At the time it was considered unlikely that he would commit a politically motivated act of violence, Haugstoyl added.

It has now been revealed that the man had been known to the local authorities for years. In 2017 he posted a video on social media in which he called himself a Muslim and a messenger and announced he had a mission.

The video was not viewed as a criminal threat by Norway's PST security police as his threats were unspecific, Martin Bernsen of the PST told the NTB news agency on Friday.

The investigation has shown that the suspect did not take his alleged conversion to Islam seriously, Omholt said.

The investigators believe the man to have acted alone and there was no indication that he had been in contact with others, Omholt added.

The suspect's lawyer told Norwegian TV2 that he agreed with the preliminary findings of the police investigation.

According to the police, the Dane had been in contact with the health service on and off for several years. Omholt said he was choosing not to comment further on the man's mental state in order to avoid influencing witness testimony.

On Friday, a court ordered the suspect to a four-week period of pre-trial detention. Due to his state of health, however, he is not yet fit to be questioned and has been placed in a secure medical facility, police said.

Police work at Extra store in the crime scene in the center of Kongsberg after a violent armed attack that left five people killed and two injured on Wednesday night. Terje Bendiksby/NTB/dpa
People light candles in memory of the victims of the Violent armed attack in Kongsberg, which left five dead and two injured. Terje Bendiksby/NTB/dpa