FOCUS – Violence, assault and battery, radicalization… The man of Iranian origin was well known to the police.
Only a few photos circulate of Zaniar Matapour, alleged author of the deadly attack in downtown Oslo last Friday. We see him handcuffed, his face against the ground. The man, dressed in a yellow T-shirt and black pants, had just been overpowered by bystanders and law enforcement after killing two people and injuring 21 others.
On the night of Friday to Saturday June 25, when the streets were still black with people around one o’clock in the morning, Zaniar Matapour arrived in front of a pub – Per på hjørnet – and started shooting on the terraces . He then aimed his gun at a nearby gay club and was quickly neutralized. The following day, the shooting was described as terrorist by police chief Christian Hatlo. The alleged perpetrator is then charged with murder, attempted murder and terrorism. This Monday, he was remanded in custody for four weeks.
SEE ALSO – Attack in Norway: two dead and 14 injured in Oslo
A heavy legal past
Zaniar Matapour, 42, arrived in Norway in 1991 at the age of 12 with his parents and two siblings as refugees, several Norwegian media report on his journey. It would have been marked by a difficult exodus. He then became known for a series “acts of violence and threats“, according to Roger Berg, head of the internal intelligence services (PST) in charge of anti-terrorism. In 1999, while still in high school, he was sentenced by the Oslo court to ten months in prison for having been involved in a stabbing attack in a nightclub during a school ball. In 2000, he was acquitted on appeal, the Court having found no evidence showing that he was the bearer of the knife. He was then sentenced to 30 days in prison for beating and kicking comrades and violence in the street. In 2007, he was arrested for possession of cocaine and in 2019 for attempted murder, illegal possession of a firearm and carrying a knife in a public place.
In 2015, the Norwegian domestic intelligence services put him on their radar, “in connection with concerns about his radicalization“and its membership”to an extremist Islamist network“, notes the PST. According to the Norwegian newspaper GV, the man was asympathizerof the Islamic State. Last May, Zaniar Matapour was interviewed by the police after being identified at the scene of a demonstration by the organization Stop Islamization of Norway. He had been arrested while he was in a car with Arfan Bhatti, a recruiter for the Islamic State organization in Norway. Interviews with him last month had led the services to conclude that he had not “with violent intentions“. “In retrospect, we can say that we may have misjudged it“, recognized Roger Berg. Especially since two weeks before the attack perpetrated outside a gay bar in Oslo, the day before the freedom march, Arfan Bhatti had posted on Facebook a burning LGBT flag.
SEE ALSO – Attack in Oslo: “Everything indicates an attack carried out by a radical Islamist”, according to the Norwegian Prime Minister
In addition to his problems with the law, the father of the family also “mental health issues“says the PST, referring to court documents related to his trials. Indeed, according to several court reports consulted by the media, the killer suffered “psychological problems a large part of his life» and in particular «paranoid schizophrenia“mental pathologies for which he would never have been followed. In Oslo, however, his neighbors say they are in shock. They evoke a mancalm and kind.»
Monday, June 27, the Minister of Justice, Emilie Enger Mehl, announced that the way the police and the PST handled the episode will be assessed. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store acknowledged on Saturday that the Norwegian company was “vulnerable” to this kind of attack, assuring that his government was doing “the safety of the population a priority”.