A few months before the terrorist attack in Oslo, Arfan Bhatti received confirmation from the EOS committee, which controls the secret services in Norway, that PST had monitored him illegally.
The EOS Committee received a complaint from Bhatti which we processed in accordance with the EOS Control Act. We did investigate and found reasons to criticise PST about this complaint, says leader of the EOS committee, Astri Aas-Hansen, to NRK.
Bhatti complained to PST because he believed they carried out a number of surveillance measures against him, which should have included room tapping, communication control and data reading.
The complaint is dated May 2019.
Aas-Hansen tells NRK that Bhatti himself was told that PST had received criticism in February 2022.
The complainant was then only informed that the committee had uncovered circumstances that gave rise to the criticism of PST and that these had ceased. For reasons of security, we are unable to go into more details of the findings, says Aas-Hansen.
Today, the evaluation committee stated that it is “possible that the attack on June 25 could have been averted if the PST had maintained its previous focus” on the Islamist Arfan Bhatti.
PST had toned down its earlier focus on Bhatti. If PST had maintained its previous focus on Bhatti, according to the committee’s assessment, it is possible that the attack could have been prevented. If it turns out that Bhatti is behind it, said committee leader Pia Therese Jansen when the report was presented on Thursday.
The committee points out that Bhatti has several times “demonstrated that he had an intention to commit terrorism in Norway, which is also publicly known”.
PST had not prioritised Bhatti, even though he is considered central to the extreme Islamist movement in Norway.
PST did not even pick up that Bhatti had posted a burning rainbow flag and quotes justifying the killing of gays just 11 days before the terror attack.