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Suspect in mosque attack makes court appearance

The Associated Press / Suspected gunman Philip Manshaus (right) and his lawyer Unni Fries attend a court hearing in Oslo, Norway, on Monday.

A Norwegian man suspected of killing his stepsister and then storming an Oslo mosque with guns appeared in court Monday with a smirk on his bruised face as evidence grew that he sought to emulate attacks by white supremacists in the U.S. and New Zealand.

Security experts believe Philip Manshaus is the latest example of an extremist who was radicalized by far-right conspiracy theories spread online, particularly the “great replacement” theory, which falsely warns of a “genocide” in which white people are being replaced by immigrants and Muslims.

Manshaus, 21, was arrested Saturday after entering a mosque in the Oslo suburb of Baerum, where three men were preparing for Sunday’s Eid al-Adha celebrations. Police said he waved weapons and fired several shots.

They did not specify what type of weapon was used. One person was slightly wounded before people inside the Al-Noor Islamic Center held the suspect down until police arrived.

Police then raided Manshaus’ nearby house and found the body of his 17-year-old stepsister, identified Monday as Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen, who was reportedly adopted from China as a 2-year old. Manshaus is suspected in her killing, police said, but they did not provide details.

With signs of his struggle still visible in the dark bruises under both eyes and scratches on his face and neck, Manshaus entered a court in Oslo. In a closed-door hearing, he did not admit guilt and asked to be set free, his lawyer, Unni Fries, told The Associated Press.

The court ordered him held in pre-trial detention for four weeks, two of which will be in solitary confinement.

The head of Norway’s domestic security agency PST, Hans Sverre Sjoevold, said authorities received a “vague” tip a year ago about the suspect, but it was not enough to act because they had no information about any “concrete plans” of attack.

Sjoevold told a news conference that the agency and the police receive many tips from worried people every day and the information “didn’t go in the direction of an imminent terror planning.”

“Many of the people who have right-wing attitudes share a violent mindset, but experience shows that very few go from word to action. Therefore, it is a demanding mission to capture and prevent those who have the ability and will to carry out attacks,” Stoevold said.

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