Prableen Kaur has arrived at Grorud Naersenter, a drab shopping mall on the outskirts of Oslo, armed with hundreds of red roses and an unshakable faith in Norway’s democracy. The roses are an easy sell. “It’s an icebreaker — people usually don’t say no,” the 20-year-old Labor Party candidate says as she thrusts flowers and campaign leaflets into shoppers’ hands.
Harder to understand is her tolerance toward those sharing the views of Anders Behring Breivik, the white supremacist who left her cowering under the bodies of her friends as he calmly shot dead 69 people at a Labor Party youth camp on Utoya Island two years ago. He claimed to be on a crusade against multiculturalism and immigration, intent on wiping out the future generation of a party he blamed for the “Islamic invasion” of Norway.
“People can share their thoughts and their opinions — it is their democratic right,” says Kaur, who survived the July 22 massacre by leaping into the cold fjord. “I think democracy works better if every different opinion can be a part of the debate.”
The problem for Kaur is that the democratic system she cherishes is forecast to oust the Labor Party after eight years in power. Elections next month could even see an anti-immigration party that once counted Breivik as a member join a coalition government for the first time.
The plot had parallels with Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who set off a bomb in Oslo last year and then went on a gun rampage on a nearby island, killing a total of 77 people.
“The would-be bomber did not hide his fascination with Breivik. This should not be ignored,” Tusk told a news conference.
The prime minister said that investigators had found practical connections to Breivik too: the Norwegian bought bomb components in Poland, he said, and an analysis of his contacts helped lead Polish intelligence to the suspect.
Authorities in Norway said they had been in touch with their Polish counterparts but gave no details.
Briefing reporters in the Polish capital, prosecutors said the suspect had assembled a small arsenal of explosive material, guns and remote-controlled detonators and was trying to recruit others to help him.
A video recording taken from the suspect, who has not been publicly identified, showed what prosecutors said was a test explosion he conducted, sending up a huge cloud of dust and leaving a large crater in the ground.
“He claims that he was acting on nationalistic, anti-Semitic and xenophobic motives,” prosecutor Mariusz Krason said.
“He believed the situation in the country is going in the wrong direction, described the people ruling Poland as foreign and said they were not true Poles.”
“He carried out reconnaissance in the neighborhood of the Sejm (parliament). This building was to be the target of the attack,” Krason said.
A man suspected of planning attacks similar to those carried out in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik has been arrested in the Czech Republic, according to police.
Police said an assault rifle, explosives, ammunition and police clothing were found in his apartment.
The 29-year-old old man was detained in the eastern city of Ostrava a week ago.
Breivik, dressed as a police officer, shot dead 69 people on an island after setting off a bomb in Oslo last year.
The BBC’s Rob Cameron in Prague says police in Ostrava were alerted to the suspect because he used the name of Breivik in email correspondence.
Police searched the apartment on 10 August, but have only now disclosed details of what was found.
Our correspondent says police raided the property after being tipped off that he was planning to detonate a large explosive device crafted from an aircraft bomb.
The man was carrying a remote controlled detonator when he was arrested, he says.
Norwegian prosecutors asked a trial court in Oslo on Thursday to order Anders Behring Breivik, who has admitted killing 77 people, confined for compulsory psychiatric treatment instead of sentencing him to prison.
Almost ten weeks of testimony in the trial of Mr. Breivik, 33, showed that he was psychotic at the time of the killings last July, the prosecutors argued. And while there is some doubt about whether he is legally sane now, that doubt requires that he be hospitalized rather than imprisoned, they said.
“In our opinion, it is worse that a psychotic person is sentenced to preventative detention than a nonpsychotic person is sentenced to compulsory mental health care,” Svein Holden, one of the prosecutors, told the court.
Mr. Breivik has acknowledged planting a bomb in central Oslo on July 22, 2011, that exploded, killing 8 people, and then traveling the same day to the island of Utoya, where he shot 69 people, mostly teenagers, belonging to the youth wing of the ruling Labour Party. He has insisted that he was and is sane; that he killed in self-defense, carrying out what he called his “operation” to combat the “Islamic colonization” of Europe; and that an insanity judgment would detract from his cause.
The trial of Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo is waiting to hear whether prosecutors will ask for him to be sent to prison or into psychiatric care.
They have begun summing up their case, with their decision resting on whether they believe he was sane when he killed 77 people in Norway last year.
Conflicting psychiatric evaluations were presented earlier.
Breivik bombed government buildings in Oslo before shooting young Labour Party supporters at an island camp.
As well as killing 77 people, he injured 242.
Breivik sought to justify his attacks by saying they were necessary to stop the “Islamisation” of Norway.
The defence concludes on Friday, and a verdict is expected in July or August.
One of the prosecutors, Svein Holden, said that under Norwegian law, reasonable doubt should benefit the defendant in cases of criminal guilt.
However, he asked whether that should also apply to the question of the defendant’s accountability.
Continue reading the main story
22 July attacks
8 people killed and 209 injured by bomb in Oslo
69 people killed on Utoeya island, of them 34 aged between 14 and 17
33 injured on Utoeya
Nearly 900 people affected by attacks
Norway attacks: The victims
How the attacks unfolded
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Holden’s colleague Inga Bejer Engh told the court it had always been the prosecution’s clear view that the case should be treated like any other criminal case.
“We must also accept this court will never find all the answers to our questions,” she added.
“How did he become this killing machine? How many did he try to kill on that day?”
Without a hint of regret, she said, Breivik had told the court how he had reloaded his gun while victims sat waiting for him to kill them on the island of Utoeya.
Breivik could be seen smiling at times as he listened to the prosecutor.
It would have been a lot neater, and no doubt a lot more comforting, if Anders Behring Breivik had been declared too insane to stand trial. The survivors of his massacre would have been spared the sight of Breivik saluting the TV cameras on his way into court and he would not have been able to use the international attention to promote the doctrine that he claims justified the killings.
In a short film played to the court on the first day of the trial, Breivik set out his theory that western civilisation was under attack from multiculturalism, an “anti-European hate ideology” orchestrated by “cultural Marxists”, who had encouraged the Islamic “colonisation” of Europe in order to destroy traditional Christian values.
Taken in isolation, his views do seem like a paranoid delusion - and that is perhaps why an initial psychiatric report declared Breivik to be suffering from schizophrenia. Yet if the beliefs he claims to hold really are delusional, then the frightening thing is that they did not spring forth from a single, deranged mind: they represent a far-right ideology shared by groups across Europe and the US.
Breivik claimed to be part of the “counter-jihad” movement, a network of bloggers and political activists who believe that Muslim immigrants threaten not only violence but “demographic jihad”, simply by living here and having children. These ideas have inspired a new wave of far-right movements, chief among them being the English Defence League.
The leaders of this street protest group, which emerged in 2009, are Breivik’s ideological cousins: its principal spokesman, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (who goes by the pseudonym “Tommy Robinson”), has distanced himself from Breivik’s methods but was quoted in an interview praising his “cunning”. Last year, in the aftermath of the Norway killings, Yaxley-Lennon predicted similar events in Britain if people did not “listen” to the EDL.
Horowitz continues efforts to mainstream extremist hate.
As the trial of Muslim-hating Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik enters its third week, a U.S.-based website has published a new essay by a blogger whose work was cited frequently by the man who murdered 77 of his countrymen last July.
In an article posted today on FrontPage, Norwegian blogger “Fjordman” - whose work was mentioned so often in Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto that some bloggers speculated they were the same person - showered praise on Robert Spencer, an American anti-Muslim pundit and hate group leader who Breivik thinks deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.
Fjordman’s particular interest is Spencer’s latest work, Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins, which according to its Amazon page is a “sober but unflinching look at one of the world’s major religions” and includes “many indications that Arabian leaders fashioned Islam for political reasons” - military conquest among them.
This “finding” dovetails conveniently with the idea, embraced by many on the Islamophobic right, that Islam is not a religion protected by the First Amendment but rather a seditious political ideology whose proponents and “training centers” (i.e. mosques) must be rooted out and shut down.
For three months after Breivik’s rampage against progressives, Fjordman - whom Breivik regarded as Europe’s “most talented right wing essay[ist]” - stopped writing his anti-Muslim screeds. He emerged from his self-imposed hiatus last October, declaring in a post on the popular anti-Muslim website Gates of Vienna that after contemplating retirement, “I have decided to continue with undiminished force. Right from the beginning I have been saying that terrorists, whether they come in the shape of Islamic Jihadists or Anders Behring Breivik, should not be allowed to decide what a free society can or cannot discuss, and I meant that.”
It’s no surprise FrontPage would make itself available as a venue for Fjordman’s anti-Muslim bile. The online magazine is published by David Horowitz, a radical leftist-turned-radical-rightist who believes liberals and “Islamofascists” are working together to destroy the West and who leads a network of organizations devoted to spreading his gospel of fear.
Horowitz funds Spencer’s anti-Muslim blog Jihadwatch; has attacked the “Occupy” movement for supposedly wanting “a communist overthrow of the capitalist system”; and has claimed that minority “demands for special treatment” are “only necessary because some blacks can’t seem to locate the ladder of opportunity within reach of others.” Just last week, he drew criticism from Jewish groups and others for an ad, placed in The New York Times on the eve of Israel’s Day of Remembrance, comparing supporters of using boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel to Nazis.
Seventy-seven people died in the attacks in Oslo and on the island of Utøya last July. The central question in the trial of the perpetrator, Anders Behring Breivik, is whether or not he is criminally liable. There is much to suggest that he is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Can a delusional person be punished for their crimes?
On July 22, 2011, Oslo-born Anders Behring Breivik committed a massacre, with eight dead in the government district of the Norwegian capital and 69 fatalities on the island of Utøya, 40 kilometers (25 miles) away. He injured many other people, both physically and psychologically, who were lucky enough to survive and were forced to look on as others lay dying.
Is he schizophrenic? And paranoid? Is he “mad or bad?” Breivik doesn’t deny that he committed the atrocities, but he also insists that he is neither guilty nor mentally ill. He says he would do it all again, and that he would kill even more people the second time.
It is inadmissible to automatically conclude that someone who committed such a vicious crime must be insane. “A normal person doesn’t do something like this,” many are saying. But even so-called normal people have committed the most abominable crimes. Germans should be the first to recognize this.
But Breivik could be mentally ill. The schizophrenic disorders include a paranoid form characterized by delusional ideas, usually accompanied by delusional perceptions and acoustic hallucinations. It can progress in spurts or a person’s condition can deteriorate gradually. Listening to the defendant speaking in the Oslo courtroom, it isn’t difficult to become convinced that this man must have felt driven by a homicidal mania at the time of the massacre.
What other logical reason could there be to set off a 950-kilogram (2,094 pound), homemade car bomb that would indiscriminately rip people to pieces? Or to shoot participants at a Labor Party summer camp in the head — and in the eyes, the mouth, the back and the chest, often multiple times, but mostly in the head, as if Breivik’s aim had not only been to kill the young people on Utøya island, but also to extinguish their thoughts? There is no logical reason. Insanity is the only possible explanation.
Breivik speaks quietly, almost timidly at times. At the beginning of the trial, he occasionally smiles knowingly to himself. But eventually the smiles fade and his face becomes impassive. Referring to Breivik, Berlin forensic scientist Hans-Ludwig Kröber says: “It’s not uncommon for psychotic offenders to conceal or tone down their delusions, because they are certainly conscious of the fact that others think they’re crazy. There are orderly lunatics who get their bread from the baker and lead a quiet life at home, even as they write hundreds of pages detailing their notions of a new world order.” Breivik was one of those people, writing a 1,518-page document, his so-called manifesto, to disseminate his confused ideas.
The trial of the right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik has been a field day in the international media, with Breivik’s ice-cold bearing and callous statements playing to the headlines. For many of the journalists inside the courtroom, however, the first couple of days in Oslo were disappointing in terms of actual information.
The accused appeared to have no reason to worry about a gruelling cross examination. Often, the prosecution’s questions resembled those that would be asked by psychologists, inquiring after his mental state. Although Breivik is one of the worst terrorists in Europe since the Second World War, perhaps the need to understand his actions has been greater than the urge to hold him accountable.
But as the trial resumed on Friday, news broke that the Bosnian investigative weekly Sloboda Bosna had named Breivik’s mystery Serbian contact as Milorad Pelemis, a war criminal who participated in the Srebrenica massacre in 1995. Should this connection turn out to be true, it would be a vital piece of the puzzle of Breivik’s international connections and the ideological underpinnings of the murders of 77 people in Oslo and Utoya in July.
In court, Breivik had explained that the Nato bombing of Serbia in 1999 was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” when it came to his radicalisation. Srebrenica is often overlooked when discussing sources of inspiration for the anti-Muslim extreme right in Europe.
But some groups regard the Serbs as heroes for retaliating against the “Islamisation” of the Balkans; they’re role models in the fight against a looming “Eurabia” (the conspiracy theory that Europe is being “colonised” by Muslims as part of a secret deal between the EU and the Arab world).
In his manifesto, Breivik calls war criminal Radovan Karadzic an “honourable crusader”. He also denies the true nature of the Yugoslavia horrors. This is as common in the so-called “counter jihad” movement as Holocaust denials are in neo-Nazi circles. The author Robert Spencer, of the Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) organisation, is one of the more influential polemicists spreading the claim that what happened in Srebrenica, and the massacre of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, is a myth.
The prosecution - and the first, heavily criticised psychiatric evaluation - tried to make Breivik’s claims of an international network seem ludicrous, the daydreams of a megalomaniac.
Yet it has only been a couple of months since Germans were shocked by the unearthing of a neo-Nazi terror cell, Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund, which had worked undisturbed for a decade. The prosecution has settled on the explanation that Breivik is a psychopath, going against many other psychiatric experts, and thereby ignores the far-right ideology from which he drew inspiration.
But Breivik is clever and well-spoken, the son of a diplomat from a stable country, and had no criminal record - he would have been an ideal terrorist agent, at least on paper. During his extensive period of preparation, he was never caught or even monitored by the police.
There are missing pieces to this puzzle and, naturally, Breivik’s testimony is suspect. But this is what is known: Breivik was in Liberia in the spring of 2002 and flew to the UK from there. He claims to have met his Serbian contact in Monrovia (Milorad Pelemis was a mercenary there, according to Sloboda Bosna) and to have represented the contact at the founding meeting of an “international Christian military order” in London. Norwegian police have not found any evidence that the meeting took place or that the organisation existed. It has been verified that Breivik paid two brief visits to the Baltics in 2004, where he claimed to have received military training.
He’s Not Alone: Anders Breivik Is Only the Tip of the Iceberg in a Rising Sea of Radical Islamophobia in Europe
The biggest mistake that Europeans could make while watching the ongoing trial of Anders Behring Breivik in Norway is to discount his rambling tirades against Islam and multiculturism as the ravings of a crackpot. Whether clinically sane or not — the Norwegian psychiatrists at the pretrial flip-flopped on this — Breivik’s thousand-page manifesto and his convictions in general are not the bizarre product of a “delusional thought universe,” as the first psychiatric report concluded. On the contrary, Breivik’s “thought universe” bears all the staples of a political ideology that accurately reflects a potent Islamophobic discourse that has taken hold across the continent and beyond since the 9/11 attacks. Breivik’s monstrous crimes must serve as a shrill wake-up call for Europeans — and not just Europeans — to acknowledge the very real potential for violence inherent in this movement and take action to stem it, at its source.
Breivik is not a Norwegian novelty but, rather, symptomatic of a growing culture of politically motivated violence across the continent (just check out the London-based Islamophobia Watch, which chronicles anti-Muslim violence). Muslims have been assaulted and killed, their mosques and institutions smeared with graffiti and bombed. Rampages that copycat Breivik’s, say experts, aren’t out of the question. Indeed, security services have been far too lax about the threat of the far right, especially its most radical, Islam-obsessed currents.
Yet the source of the discrimination, hate speech, and violence increasingly directed at Europe’s Muslim communities lies much closer to home: Islamophobia has won an accepted presence in mainstream discourses and politics from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean. Political parties that espouse a somewhat milder version of Breivik’s thoughts sit in parliaments across Northern Europe, including in the European Parliament, and even participate in ruling coalitions. In some countries, like once proudly multikulti Denmark, these politicos have had a pronounced impact on migration, asylum, and cultural, social, and anti-terrorism policies, as well as on the entrenchment of a growing popular animus against Muslims.