Last week, a call for the killing of gays was posted on the Facebook page of Islamist Arfan Bhatti (44). Two days after the shooting in Oslo, the picture has been removed.
On Saturday, VG wrote that Arfan Bhatti and the accused after the mass shooting in Oslo, Zaniar Matapour (42), were stopped in a car by the police earlier this year.
The incident took place in connection with a SIAN demonstration at Stovner in Oslo in April.
Barely two months later, the profile picture and the cover picture on Arfan Bhatti’s Facebook profile were changed.
The new profile picture showed a forbidden sign with a rainbow flag inside.
The rainbow flag is a well-known symbol of the pride movement and tolerance for different orientations.
Profile image removed
Under the forbidden sign in the picture on Bhatti’s profile was the text “Be natural”.
On top of the picture itself was an Arabic script, a so-called hadith. A hadith is a short story that must originate from the words of the Prophet Muhammad.
VG has had the text translated and explained by terrorist researcher Thomas Hegghammer from the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI):
“If you find anyone who commits the deed of the people of Lut, kill him who executes it and the one on whom it is performed.”
“Lut people’s deeds” can be translated as “sexual intercourse between two men”.
Thus, the text can be understood as a message that gays should be killed, according to Hegghammer.
On Saturday night, several Norwegian media wrote about Bhatti’s profile.
On Sunday morning, the profile picture was removed.
John Christian Elden has represented Bhatti for a number of years. He answers the following questions about the now deleted profile picture:
– No, I know nothing about that. I do not know if it is his Facebook page and I do not know what is on it.
VG has received confirmation that the Facebook profile belongs to Bhatti.
The 44-year-old has long been a well-known figure in the Norwegian public, including as one of the leaders in the controversial group The Prophet’s Ummah.
The Prophet’s Ummah has openly supported the extremist group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIL), also called IS, and recruited more to the war in Syria.
Bhatti has been convicted several times, including for violence.
VG has tried to get in touch with the 44-year-old, who is currently living abroad, without success.
Connects photos to Pride
– That Bhatti is posting his messages right now, probably has to do with it being Pride month, says terrorist researcher Thomas Hegghammer.
Among other things, Hegghammer has Islamist ideology as his field of research.
– Radical Islamist groups see homosexuality as a mortal sin and want a legal system where people are executed for it, he says.
He points out that the terrorist group IS implemented such a legal system in the Syrian city of Raqqa, among other things by throwing living people down from tall buildings.
– Extreme Islamists also see Western societies as morally degenerate because we allow much of what Islam, according to their interpretation, forbids, such as alcohol, sex outside of marriage, and homosexual practices.
– Highlighting these texts is a way to signal that they are deep
disagree that this may go on and that they are noble defenders of God’s word.
Burning Pride flag
In addition to the profile picture, the cover photo on Bhatti’s Facebook profile was changed on June 14 this year.
This image shows a burning Pride flag.
Here, too, an Arabic text is displayed. This is from a sura, according to Hegghammer.
Sura is the Arabic term for “chapter” in the Qur’an.
– The text comes from a story about Sodom and Gomorrah that we also know from the Bible. These were two mythical cities where homosexuality was reportedly widespread, says Hegghammer.
– God sent the prophet Lot to ask them to stop this, but they rejected him, whereupon God had the cities buried under stone.
The sura on the cover photo says “we let (stone) rain fall on them; see how we punish sinners, ”according to Hegghammer.
Unlike the profile picture, this picture is still on Bhatti’s Facebook profile.
Elden: Bhatti has been abroad
According to VG’s information, the Police Security Service (PST) and the Oslo police are aware that there was contact between the accused after the mass shooting in Oslo, Zaniar Matapour (42) and Bhatti back in 2015.
After the police stopped them together at Stovner in Oslo in April this spring, Matapour was summoned to a concern interview with PST.
Afterwards, PST assessed that the 42-year-old did not have a so-called intention to commit violence.
John Christian Elden is the defender of Matapour. The lawyer has also represented Bhatti for several years.
– What can you say about the Stovner episode in April?
– I currently only have that from PST and the media. We already asked in April for documents from the police in that context and we have not yet received them, says Elden.
– Do you know where Bhatti is now?
– I know that he has been abroad since the beginning of June, but I do not know anything more about where and when, says Elden and adds that he can not comment further on what contact he has with clients.
PST: Do not want to comment
PST does not want to answer VG’s questions on Sunday night.
“PST considers that we are still in an unresolved and extraordinary threat situation. For the sake of this and for the sake of the investigation, we are restrictive in answering questions concerning the terrorist attack and matters related to the perpetrator », writes senior adviser in PST, Annett Aamodt, in an email to VG.
“PST assesses the terrorist threat level continuously and as soon as the level can be reduced, it will be communicated quickly”writes Aamodt.
Nor does police lawyer in Oslo Børge Enoksen want to comment on individuals.
To VG, he says that it is absolutely central to the investigation to uncover the perpetrator’s motive, as well as background and acquaintances.
– As of now, there is no reason to state that he has collaborated with anyone about this incident, Enoksen says.
– But it is still early and we have not established anything.
On Sunday afternoon, Matapour interrupted an interrogation with the police for the second time.
Elden says his client fears that the police will manipulate the interrogation.