“He started to fire towards two other men,” Rafiq said. He had grabbed the attacker, holding him down while wrestling the weapons off him to prevent more shooting.
A 65 year-old worshipper by the name of Mohammad Rafiq restrained a heavily armed terror suspect in Al-Noor Islamic Centre Mosque in Baerum outside Oslo, Norway on Friday 9th August. With the assistance of another worshipper, Mohammad Iqbal the old man then held him down before police arrived, preventing what could have been another tragic and fatal attack on Muslims.
“I suddenly heard shooting from outside,” the retired Pakistani Air Force officer told Reuters. He added that a man then entered the building with guns and pistols.
“He started to fire towards the two other men,” Rafiq said. He had grabbed the attacker, holding him down while wrestling the weapons off him to prevent more shooting.
Irfan Mushtaq, Mosque Director told Norwegian newspaper VG, “Then I see that there are cartridges scattered and blood on the carpets and I see one of our members is sitting on the perpetrator, covered in blood.”
Mushtaq also said, “For so many years, the secret police say the Muslims are the biggest risk for this country, but if you look at those last two major incidents of terrorist activities, it’s not Muslims who have done this.”
The Al-Noor Islamic Centre has the same name as one of the mosques targeted in the Christchurch attacks. Local Norwegian newspaper Budstikka said it had contacted the mosque in Norway shortly afterwards and were told extra security measures would be implemented.
Mushtaq said the mosque had not received any threats ahead of the shooting, which occurred on the eve of the Muslim celebration of Eid-Al Adha.
Online message board posts show that the perpetrator, Philip Manshaus who is 21 years old, was motivated and inspired by the El Paso and Christchurch shooters. According to Swedish broadcaster TV2, there was a post a few hours before the attack.
Acting chief of the police operation Rune Skjold said in a press conference on Sunday, “We are looking at an attempted act of terror.”
Skjold said the investigation shows the man holds “far-right” and “anti-immigrant” views. Manshaus is also sympathetic towards Vidkun Quisling, the leader of Norway’s government during the Nazi occupation.
Muslim organisation Islamic Council Norway has described the attack as “the result of a long-lasting hate of Muslims that has been allowed to spread in Norway.”
In response to the attacks, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said, “I think that we need to do the work that we are doing on combating hate speech.
“We have a special action plan towards that, which is not just on Islamophobia but also on a lot of other issues where you have hate speech.”
Police have also charged Manshaus with the murder of his 17 –year- old stepsister who was found in a house in Baerum.
Norway experienced one of the worst ever attacks by right-wing extremist and terrorist Anders Behring Breivik who massacred 77 people in July 2011.