This explainer is being updated as more news emerges. Click here for photos from the scene and here for details about the man arrested in connection with the attacks. For the latest news updates, click here.
EDITORS’ NOTE: As of late July 2011, this explainer is no longer being updated on a daily basis. You can read on for the basics of what happened during the twin attacks in Norway, the political response, and an account of the aftermath from July 23rd to July 29th. If you’re interested in the very latest, we also have some recommendations for other sources you can monitor listed below. Going forward, major developments will be noted on our main Political Mojo blog.
The bomb: A massive explosion hit Norway’s government hub in central Oslo on Friday, killing at least seven people and injuring at least 15 others. The six-story building that was most heavily damaged included the oil ministry and is next to the building that houses the office of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. The PM was unharmed in the blast and is now operating out of an undisclosed location. Witness testimony and damage at the scene are consistent with reports of a car bombing. The New York Times reports:
Stunned office staff and civil servants working in the vicinity of the bombed building said two explosions could be heard in close succession. The sound of the blasts echoed across the city just before 3:30 p.m. local time. Giant clouds of light-colored smoke continued to rise hundreds of feet into the air over the city…
Photos and television footage showed windows blown out in the 17-story office building across the street from the oil ministry, and the street and plaza areas on each side were strewn with glass and debris.
The first person on the scene “described it as ‘worse than a war zone,'” says Joe Sivilli, who’s talking to Mother Jones‘ Tim McDonnell from on the ground in Oslo. Sivilli, who speaks Norwegian fluently, works at a home-brew beer shop about 2 kilometers away from the site of the bombing. He says he felt a “rumble, like a small earthquake,” when the bomb went off, but assumed it was just “construction or something like that.” He’ll be monitoring the Norwegian-language media for us as this story develops.
The island attack: A gunman dressed as a policeman reportedly opened fire this afternoon at a Labour Party youth camp on the island of Utoya, about 15 miles outside of Oslo, killing more than 60 people (police officials previously reported at least 10 casualties but had expected that number to rise). Police have a suspect in custody. Prime Minister Stoltenberg was due to visit the camp tomorrow morning, according to NRK, Norway’s national public television broadcaster. (Stoltenberg has attended gatherings at the camp almost every year in recent memory.) On Friday evening, police found undetonated explosives on the island.
Close to 700 teenagers had gathered on Utoya, and initial reports suggested that some tried to flee by swimming. CBS News reports that Kurt Lier, Oslo’s assistant chief of police, “had little information about what had happened on the island, but said if people are leaving island swimming, it is a ‘long swim.'” Hans-Inge Langø, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), says the “timing and targets [of the attacks are] too similar for this not to be connected.” The AP reports that Norwegian police say the two events were definitely connected.
Here’s early coverage of the attack on the Utoya gathering:
How is the Norwegian government responding? Norway’s governing party is the center-left Labour Party. The government has advised citizens to stay away from central Oslo tonight, and to stay at home and refrain from gathering in large groups. Stoltenberg, the prime minister, gave an interview to NRK from an undisclosed location around 8:15 p.m. local time (11:15 a.m. EST), and said that Norwegians “must not let terrorism force us to change our society, but stand up to fear.” He also delivered a speech stating that “we must show that our open society will pass this test…and that our answer to violence is even more democracy, more humanity, but not more naïveté.” An excerpt of his speech is below:
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said Saturday that many world leaders had reached out to him after the tragedy. “The world is with Norway at the moment. That will not restore the lives lost, of course, but it gives support and they hope it will help in their grief,” he said.
Together with Norway’s king, queen and crown prince, Stoltenberg visited with victims’ family members and survivors of the attacks at a hotel.
What about the US? President Barack Obama was briefed on the attack this morning by John Brennan, his top counterterrorism adviser. Here’s Obama’s statement on the attacks:
Who’s responsible? Why did they do it? Officials told the AP that 32-year-old Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik, who was arrested in connection with both the Oslo bombing and the Utoya youth camp shooting, does not appear to be associated with Islamist terrorism. Some witnesses who got away from Utoya told NRK reporters that the attacker there “had a Norwegian look,” tall with blond hair. That description matches the man on what appear to be Breivik’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. (Note that social-media accounts are easy to fake.) Multiple reports between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m. local time confirmed that a blond Norwegian-speaker had been arrested after the Utoya attacks. Here’s the AP:
[The police official] says the suspect appears to have acted alone, and “it seems like that this is not linked to any international terrorist organizations at all.” He added that the investigation is still ongoing and that things can change.
So it wasn’t Islamic terrorism? We can’t know for sure, and Breivik is innocent until proven guilty. A group calling itself “Helpers of the Global Jihad” initially claimed responsibility for the attack, citing Norwegian publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. The group has since withdrawn that claim. Islamist groups have targeted Norway before, reportedly due to the country’s involvement in the NATO air war in Libya, the War in Afghanistan, the arrests of three men with possible ties to Al Qaeda in early July, and counterterrorism measures. ABC News reports:
Intelligence sources are examining both Ansar al-Islam and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for possible links to the attack.
Earlier this month, a Norwegian prosecutor filed terrorism charges against an Iraqi-born cleric who had allegedly threatened the lives of Norwegian politicians. Mullah Krekar, the founder of the Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam, said in a news conference in 2010 that if he was deported from Norway he would be killed and, therefore, Norwegian politicians deserved the same fate, according to an AP report. The Norwegian government had considered deporting Krekar because he was seen as a national security threat.
The Atlantic reported last year on Norway’s troubles with other bomb plots and possible explanations as to why the Scandinavian country has been made a new target:
Why on Earth would Norway be a target for attack? The country is famed as an international peace negotiator, the home of the Nobel Peace Prize, and the distributor of more foreign aid per capita than any other country. It’s an all-round international good guy…
Most likely, a combination of factors placed Norway on the jihadists’ radar. In al-Qaeda’s binary worldview, Norway is part of the “Jewish-Crusader alliance.” Not a platinum member, perhaps, but a member nonetheless. If you’re not with al-Qaeda, you’re with the United States.
Norway has long been considered a legitimate but low-priority target. Frustrated by the difficulty of striking key adversaries like Britain and the United States, al-Qaeda seems to be moving down the food chain.
How can I follow developments in real-time? Use Twitter to follow #oslo. You should also follow @blakehounshell and @allthingsct. This post will be updated as more information becomes available. Other coverage of Friday’s blast in Oslo can be found at The Guardian, BBC News, Al Jazeera English, The Daily Telegraph, and Talking Points Memo‘s Livewire. Photos from the scene can be found here, here, and here (warning: graphic images).
Here’s Al Jazeera’s breaking news report:
Here’s a video uploaded to Twitvid by Christian Aglen, along with news footage from Norwegian television:
Here are some photos of the devastation:
UPDATE 1, Saturday, July 23, 12:16 a.m. EDT (Tim McDonnell): Blogger Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs is reporting that the Oslo bombing/shooting suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, posted often on a Norwegian anti-immigration site and recommended a post by the prominent anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller, who spearheaded the US drive against the planned “Ground Zero mosque.” (We’ve previously covered her activities here, here, here, here, and here.) LGF also asserts a link between Breivik and one of Geller’s guest bloggers, Fjordman.
Geller responded on her own website: “This is just a sinister attempt to tar all anti-jihadists with responsibility for this man’s heinous actions…this is war. And the left is vicious, amoral and depraved. They mean to win, and that is the only way they know how.”
UPDATE 2, Saturday, July 23, 11:06 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Oddmy Estenstad, an employee of agricultural retailer Felleskjøpet, tells CNN that Utoya shooting suspect Anders Behring Breivik bought six tons of fertilizer from the company in May:
She did not think the order was strange at the time because the suspect has a farm, but after Friday’s explosion in Norway’s capital, Oslo, she called police because she knew the material can be used to make bombs.
“We are very shocked that this man was connected to our company,” said Estenstad. “We are very sad about what happened.”
UPDATE 3, Saturday, July 23, 11:09 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): According to the UK’s Daily Mirror, Anders Behring Breivik has been “preliminarily charged with acts of terrorism.” Norwegian police say the 32-year-old Breivik appears to be an extreme right-wing Christian fundamentalist, due to postings on his website. NRK reports that the suspect is a member of an Oslo gun club, and “was exempted from military service, and thus…has no special education [from the Norwegian] Armed Forces.”
Media reports say the gunman apparently used a handgun and a machine gun, and that police arrived at the island possibly 90 minutes after the shooting started. At midmorning Saturday, police were still searching the island for more bodies. One wounded survivor, Adrian Pracon, described the gunman as “calm and controlled,” shooting people who tried to escape the island by swimming to the mainland…Pracon described his attempt to escape. “We started running down to the water and people had already undressed and started swimming.”
Pracon said he began swimming, but “after 150 meters … I realized I wouldn’t make it so I went back and saw him standing 10 meters from me shooting at the people who tried to swim over.”
UPDATE 5, Saturday, July 23, 4:29 p.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Though Norwegian police have not yet found any evidence of additional gunmen or conspirators at the Utoya crime scene, they are not ruling out the possibility of a second gunman, according to UK’s The Daily Telegraph:
“The suspect has been interrogated throughout the whole day with a lawyer present, and has confessed to some crimes that correspond with yesterday’s events,” [Norwegian police said in a press conference.] “Furthermore, we have 92 dead now, but don’t expect that number to increase significantly. When special forces came to Utoya, the gunman surrendered immediately. Interrogation is extremely demanding.”
[Police] say that between four and six people are still missing, so the final toll could rise as high as 98. The alleged gunman’s family has been contacted, and he has appointed a lawyer for his defence, who does not want to be identified.
Between the bombing and the shooting, at least 92 were killed.
UPDATE 6, Saturday, July 23, 4:59 p.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Mother Jones‘ James Ridgeway has the English-language translation of the alleged Norway shooter Anders Behring Breivik’s posts on a Norwegian website suggesting that he was obsessed with the impact of Islam on Norwegian society. The document came to us via the US-based Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, a human rights group that tracks the far right in the US and abroad. Here’s an excerpt:
[Breivik] claims to be concerned for the youth of Norway:
“I dare not even think of how many Norwegian children who have been suicide because of these experiences (assault, robbery, rape, psychological terror committed by Muslim youths). There are probably several hundred in the last 15 years.
….Non-Muslim youth in Oslo aged 12-18 are in a particularly vulnerable situation in terms of harassment [from] Muslim youth.”
Read the full article here.
UPDATE 7, Sunday, July 24, 3:04 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): CNN reports the discovery of a 1,500-page far-right manifesto, which is suspected to be the work of Anders Behring Breivik, who is due to appear in court on charges of terrorism on Monday. The document, released online under the pseudonym “Andrew Berwick,” shows a writer eager for a “conservative revolution” and “European civil war” against Muslim populations and “cultural Marxists”:
The document, which is part political diatribe, part confessional and part action plan, details Breivik’s background and his plans to commit Friday’s attacks. It also contains various photos of him…
CNN has not been able to independently verify that the document was written by Breivik. But police told the Norwegian newspaper VG that the document is “linked” to Friday’s attacks.
According to MSNBC, an accompanying 12-minute YouTube video was posted to what is believed to be Breivik’s now-defunct Facebook page shortly before Friday’s bombing and shooting. The video, titled “Knights Templar 2083,” further outlines battle plans for a holy war on Islamic and left-wing influence in Europe:
The video…promotes a fight against Islam, apparently showing pictures of the suspect, wearing a wetsuit and pointing an automatic weapon. The video had been removed from the site Saturday afternoon.
“Before we can start our crusade we must do our duty by decimating cultural marxism,” said a caption under the video.
The video was uploaded to YouTube on July 22, the day of the attacks.
For links to the 1,500-page dossier and the “Knights Templar 2083” video, click here. Police and local media have yet to verify who authored the document and who produced and uploaded the video.
MSNBC offers some background:
Norway has traditionally been open to immigration, which has been criticized by the Progress Party, of which Breivik was for a short time a member. The Labor Party, whose youth camp Breivik attacked, has long been in favor of immigration.
In the [1,500-page manifesto, there are details] about infiltrating the youth camp of a ruling party and assassinating the party leader.
UPDATE 8, Sunday, July 24, 3:13 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): At least four individuals from the Utoya youth camp are still missing. BBC News reports on the Norwegian police forces’ searches conducted near the island, and in the damaged buildings in Central Oslo:
[Norwegian police believe that some on the island] may have drowned after swimming out into the lake to escape the hail of bullets.
Police are using a mini-submarine to search for the missing bodies.
In Oslo police said the death toll could rise further as bodies or body parts were in buildings damaged by the bomb but still too unstable to search.
The UK’s Sky News has more coverage of the aftermath of the Utoya rampage:
UPDATE 9, Sunday, July 24, 10:19 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Police in Oslo say that detained suspect Anders Behring Breivik claims to have acted alone in Friday’s twin attacks, according to Norwegian public broadcasting. “He has admitted to the facts of both the bombing and the shooting, although he’s not admitting criminal guilt,” acting police chief Sveinung Sponheim announced during a news conference. “He says he was alone, but the police must verify everything that he said. Some of the witness statements from the [Utoya shooting] have made us unsure of whether there was one or more shooters.” Reuters reports:
[Sponheim also stated police] had no other suspects for the worst massacre committed in Norway since World War II, in which [at least 93 people were killed and] 97…were also wounded. Several people also remain missing, which could raise the death toll.
UPDATE 10, Sunday, July 24, 10:38 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Sky News reports that officers from Norway’s counterterrorism police force arrested six more people during a Sunday raid in east Oslo in connection with Friday’s attacks. Chemical containers were found at the property, but no explosives. The six detainees were soon released, with police saying they found no evidence of a link to the terrorist plot.
UPDATE 11, Sunday, July 24, 4:41 p.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Sections of the 1,500-page manifesto/action plan allegedly written by Anders Behring Breivik were plagiarized from writings of Ted Kaczynski (aka, the “Unabomber”), according to the AP:
Kaczynski wrote: “One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world is leftism, so a discussion of the psychology of leftism can serve as an introduction to the discussion of the problems of modern society in general.”
Breivik’s manifesto reads: “One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world is multiculturalism, so a discussion of the psychology of multiculturalists can serve as an introduction to the discussion of the problems of Western Europe in general.”
Breivik did not cite Kaczynski, though he did for many other people whose writings he used in [the document].
He used at least one portion verbatim: “Feminists are desperately anxious to prove that women are as strong and capable as men. Clearly they are nagged by a fear that women may NOT be as strong and as capable as men.”
UPDATE 12, Sunday, July 24, 4:51 p.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Anders Behring Breivik, who confessed to both the mass killing at the Labour Party-sponsored youth camp at Utoya and the bombing of government headquarters in Oslo, is expected to plead not guilty to terrorism charges, according to the Guardian. The Wall Street Journal reports that many of Europe’s anti-immigration and right-wing political parties publicly distanced themselves from Breivik’s crimes on Sunday:
Breivik joined the Norwegian Progress Party, which advocated a “restrictive” immigration policy, in 1999 and was a paid-up member until 2004, but its leader Siv Jensen said in a statement Sunday that “The horrible and cowardly attacks we’ve witnessed are contrary to the principles and values underpinning the Norwegian society.”
She added: “It makes me feel extra sad to know that this person once was a member in our party” …
One of [the groups mentioned in the 1,500-page manifesto purportedly written by Breivik] is the nationalist Sweden Democrats, which blames Muslims for social ills. Its leader Jimmie Akesson, said in a statement the tragedy in Norway was “an attack on the entire democratic society” …
The right-ring Pro Deutschland group in Germany said in a statement: “As Christians and Conservatives, we want to express solidarity with the victims of the attacks of July 22. The hate that is driving Islamic assassins and fanatic individuals a la…Breivik is foreign to Christians and Conservatives.”
UPDATE 13, Monday, July 25, 10:01 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): In Monday’s closed arraignment, Anders Behring Breivik now claims that he worked with two terrorist cells to commit the Oslo bombing and Utoya island shooting (Norwegian police said Sunday that Breivik had admitted to acting alone). CNN reports:
Court officials said they could not confirm the existence of the cells and referred questions to the police.
[Judge Kim] Heger ordered the suspect to remain in custody for at least eight weeks, until his next scheduled court appearance, as authorities continue to investigate…
The suspect will be held in isolation because of the possibility of tampering with evidence, Heger said…
The judge spoke to news reporters after a hearing that was closed to the public. Breivik asked to wear a uniform to the hearing but was not allowed to, Heger said.
Here’s the Euronews report on Monday’s closed hearing:
Here’s AP coverage of Breivik’s first court appearance:
UPDATE 14, Monday, July 25, 11:24 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Norwegian police are now revising Friday’s death toll from 93 to 76 killed. Police officials said during a press conference on Monday that “confusion led to perhaps [some bodies] being counted more than once.” According to BBC News, the Utoya shooting body count, which was previously reported as 86, has been revised down to 68. Police also raised the number of victims of the Oslo blast from seven to eight.
UPDATE 15, Tuesday, July 26, 9:02 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Anders Behring Breivik was briefly flagged by Norwegian police as early as March. He came to their attention after a purchase of chemicals from a retailer in Poland, but the information was not considered significant enough to warrant a fuller investigation, according to Norway’s Police Security Service (PST) head Janne Kristiansen. (Breivik’s name was listed along with about 50-60 other customers of the same business.) Australian website ninemsn has the story:
“We don’t have the right to put people’s names on the register just like that but we checked if we had anything on these people, if any of them could be connected to any other intelligence we had but we had absolutely nothing on Behring Breivik.
“He lived a life that was incredibly respectful of the law,” [Kristiansen] said…
Pawel Bialek, deputy head of the ABW internal security agency, said the chemicals purchased did not appear to have been of capital importance to his plans, and said the Norwegian had also placed larger orders from other countries.
UPDATE 16, Tuesday, July 26, 9:11 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): CBS News reports that Geir Lippestad, Breivik’s defense attorney, told journalists that his client had taken drugs prior to the Utoya shooting spree to remain “strong, efficient, [and] awake.” The lawyer has not yet explicitly said whether or not he will push for an insanity defense, but Lippestad said that his client is not likely to agree to such a strategy. Reuters reports:
Breivik may oppose the idea of pleading insanity…since he thinks he is the “only one who understands the truth,” his lawyer told Reuters.
Lippestad also said in an interview that Breivik seems to favor “a dictator” and was opposed both to multiculturalism and democracy.
The news comes as thousands of Norwegians continue to hold torchlit processions and rallies in towns and cities to honor the victims of Friday’s bombing and shooting.
UPDATE 17, Tuesday, July 26, 9:20 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): According to The Guardian, British Home Secretary Theresa May is being urged to reexamine Britain’s counterterrorism strategy and to review the potential threat of right-wing terrorism in the country. In the manifesto allegedly written by Anders Behring Breivik, the author claims to have been recruited by two English far-right extremists during a meeting in Britain in 2002. Prime Minister David Cameron said that the national security council is “still investigating these claims, so I don’t want to give out partial information. We want to get to the bottom of this before making public announcements. But we take these things extremely seriously.”
The Guardian also reports on the reaction from some in Britian’s Muslim community:
A Muslim police officer said on Monday that British authorities had been in “denial” about rightwing extremists and had failed to do enough to stop their ability to launch terrorist violence.
“We’ve been too busy looking at the threat from Islamist extremists and taken our eye off the ball on tracking the extremist right,” said Zaheer Ahmad, president of the National Association of Muslim Police.
He said his group’s warning in private meetings with officials to take the threat of extremist rightwing violence more seriously had been rebuffed.
UPDATE 18, Tuesday, July 26, 9:39 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): On Monday, conservative pundit Glenn Beck weighed in on Norway’s twin attacks, stating that the Labour Party-sponsored Utoya youth camp reminded him of Hitler Youth gatherings organized by the Nazi party. “And as the thing started to unfold,” Beck said, “and then there was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like, you know, the Hitler Youth, or whatever, I mean, who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing.” (MediaMatters broke the story.) Beck has a habit of comparing a wild assortment of subjects to Nazism and Adolf Hitler, including TARP, President Obama, and the Peace Corps.
During his radio show, Beck also said that “there is no difference between [Anders Behring Breivik] and the 9/11 bombers” and that “he is just as bad as Osama bin Laden,” but then went on to assert that “political correctness and multiculturalism is killing Europe.”
Here’s the Fairfax Media report on Beck’s controversial statements:
CNN reports the irony that Beck himself is linked to “politically-oriented camps”:
Camps are being organized in several U.S. states by chapters of the “9/12 Project” — an organization founded by Beck…in 2009.
The Colorado 9/12 Project hosted a “Patriot Camp” for kids in grades 1-5 earlier this month, featuring programs on “our Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and the values and principles that are the cornerstones of our nation.”
And in August, the Danville, Kentucky, chapter is holding a “Vacation Liberty School” that organizers pledge “will help your children understand where we came from. Understand where we went wrong. Understand where the fork in the road was, and which path we should have taken.”
UPDATE 19, Tuesday, July 26, 10:39 p.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Mother Jones‘ senior correspondent James Ridgeway reports on the anti-fascist prescience of late Swedish author and leftist journalist Stieg Larsson, and the continuing legacy of Larsson’s Expo magazine. Sweden’s Expo has recently published some noteworthy reports on Anders Behring Breivik’s association with xenophobic, neo-fascist organizations.
Here’s an excerpt:
In the wake of this weekend’s attacks in Oslo, it was Expo that…was at the forefront, exposing what is so far suspect Anders Behring Breivik’s most direct link to the contemporary neo-Nazi scene in Scandinavia…
Expo revealed that since 2009 Breivik has also been part of the forum Nordisk (Nordic), whose 22,000 members…range “from high-ranking members of the Sweden Democrats, a nationalist party with seats in the Swedish parliament to leading members of the nazi movement and to unhinged psychopaths. What unites the whole lot is a hatred of immigration and immigrants.”
Click here to read the full story.
UPDATE 20, Wednesday, July 27, 10:24 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): On Wednesday, the head of Norway’s Delta Force again defended the special operations team’s response to the twin terror attacks, following continued criticism of the amount of time it took police to reach the scene of the Utoya massacre.
The AP reports:
Police have come under close scrutiny over how long it took them to reach the island after first reports of shots being fired at the island youth camp Friday. Although the island is only about 25 miles from the Norwegian capital, police needed 90 minutes to get to the scene.
A media helicopter was already hovering over the island when police arrived…[The] helicopter arrived sometime between 6 p.m. and 6:10 p.m. Police say got to the island at 6:25 p.m.
When word of the shooting came, police drove rather than take a helicopter because the crew of the sole chopper available to them was on vacation. Then the first boat they tried to take to the lake island broke down.
[Delta Force leader] Anders Snortheimsmoen told reporters the team immediately jumped into another, better boat. He said his team arrived at the harbor at the same time as local police and the boat mishap caused no delay.
UPDATE 21, Wednesday, July 27, 10:43 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Due to Anders Behring Breivik’s claims that he had been in close contact with far right cells in different countries, Norwegian police have requested help from departments in other European territories to widen their investigation. They have contacted the Czech, UK, and Luxembourg police, among others.
Bloomberg has the story:
Breivik wrote in a manifesto published before the attacks…that he’d been in contact with the English Defense League, which says it campaigns against Islamic extremism, and other groups across Europe. Norwegian police have declined to specify which countries besides the U.K. they are working with.
UPDATE 22, Wednesday, July 27, 12:51 p.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Echoing his earlier statement from last week, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that he is dedicated to using “more democracy” as the response to Friday’s bombing and shooting.
The AP reports (emphasis my own):
Stoltenberg defended freedom of thought even if includes extremist views such as those held by the 32-year-old Breivik.
“We have to be very clear to distinguish between extreme views, opinions — that’s completely legal, legitimate to have. What is not legitimate is to try to implement those extreme views by using violence,” he said.
“I think what we have seen is that there is going to be one Norway before and one Norway after July 22,” he said. “But I hope and also believe that the Norway we will see after will be more open, a more tolerant society than what we had before.”
The Prime Minister also pledged the formation of an independent commission assigned to probing the killings and the police response, and to presenting a full report to survivors and victims’ families.
UPDATE 23, Wednesday, July 27, 1:11 p.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): The UK’s The Daily Telegraph is reporting that Anders Behring Breivik, if convicted, might spend the remainder of his days behind bars in one of the world’s most luxurious prisons. Breivik, accused of murdering 76 people in Friday’s attacks, may find himself in Halden Prison, where many of Norway’s convicted rapists and killers are already incarcerated. The progressive prison includes many flat-screen TVs, a climbing wall, and colorful furniture:
The jail is spread over 75 acres of woodland just outside Oslo and facilities include a sound studio, jogging trails and a two-bedroom house separate from the main facility where convicts can stay with their families during overnight visits…
Half of the prison staff are women, a policy based on research which shows a female presence induces a less aggressive atmosphere…[T]here is even a “kitchen laboratory” where inmates can take specialist cooking courses…
There is some evidence that the Norwegian approach to prison works, with only around 20 per cent of offenders ending up back behind bars within two years of release, compared to around half of British convicts.
The Daily Telegraph did not quote any police or government source who indicated that Breivik would be moved to Halden Prison.
UPDATE 24, Wednesday, July 27, 1:28 p.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Belgian politician Tanguy Veys said Wednesday he was “shocked and dismayed” that he had received an email from Anders Behring Breivik shortly before the bombing and shooting rampage in Norway were carried out. Though Veys, a member of parliament for Belgium’s far right Vlaams Belang party, says he had never heard of Breivik before news of the attacks broke, he still views being sent the message as “a setback.”
The AP has the story:
“I was connected with a terrorist act, and I didn’t want to be connected with a terrorist act,” Veys said.
The email, with Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto of three books attached, was sent Friday, about 90 minutes before the bomb went off.
Veys said the email — written in English — went to about 1,000 addresses…
One email address on the list led to a Facebook site ostensibly for an Italian whose profile picture included Nazi emblems and a skull. As the person’s only interest, the page listed “firearms.”
Another of the addresses led to the site of a man who claimed to be a member of the anti-immigration British National Party.
Breivik’s email included the following:
I humbly ask you to re-distribute [my manifesto] to as many patriotic minded individuals as you can…I am 100 percent certain that the distribution of this compendium to a large portion of European patriots will contribute to ensure our victory in the end. Because within these three books lies the tools required to win the ongoing Western European cultural war, the war against the anti-European hate ideology known as multiculturalism.
Veys stated Wednesday that while Europe has “Jewish and Christian roots” and he believes “Islam is not compatible with the origins of Europe,” he emphasized that his party has “never called up for violence”:
“Even now I read in the articles: the bullets came from the right,” Veys said. “I think people still must be able to criticize multiculturalism, to criticize the growth of Islam in Europe but without (others) saying, ‘But you are causing the violence.'”
UPDATE 25, Wednesday, July 27, 5:58 p.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): According to the AP, British blogger Paul Ray, who runs the Christian right-wing blog “Lionheart,” has denied claims that Anders Behring Breivik belonged to Ray’s anti-Muslim, Knights Templar-inspired group. The 1,500-page manifesto, which is believed to be the work of Breivik, cites a British individual nicknamed “Richard (the Lionheart)” as a mentor. The head of the English Defense League, a far-right street protest organization, has since confirmed that “Richard” is Ray’s pseudonym.
Here’s more from the AP interview:
Ray said he was not at a 2002 meeting in London which Breivik claims gave birth to a group called the Knights Templar of Europe, whose founders included himself and “Richard.”
However, the 35-year-old Ray said he shares Breivik’s views and has several apparent similarities with the “mentor” in the…manifesto, chiefly that he leads an anti-Muslim group called The Ancient Order of the Templar Knights. But Ray denied knowing Breivik and suggested the group had no formal structure. He refused to name any members or indicate how many it has.
“It’s an idea,” Ray said. “It’s not like it’s a massive organization. It’s a belief.”
Ray, who says he left the UK about two years ago following his arrest for inciting racial hate, goes on to denounce Breivik’s method of indiscriminate mass murder:
“I’d like to express my deepest sympathy to the people of Norway and to the families who have lost children,” Ray said. “It’s a horrendous crime that has been committed by someone [who] goes beyond the realm of human understanding.”
UPDATE 26, Thursday, July 28, 9:39 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Norway Police Chief of Staff Johan Fredriksen announced Thursday that the search for bodies on and around Utoya island has officially ended. “We are now certain there are no more victims in the…area,” Fredriksen told reporters. However, according to CNN, Fredriksen “did not confirm whether anyone was still missing and said he did not want to refer to exact figures.”
Anders Behring Breivik, who is now detained in solitary confinement at Ila Prison just outside of Oslo, is set to face a second round of interrogation by police on Friday. The Wall Street Journal reports that Tor-Aksel Busch, Norway’s head prosecutor, said that Breivik’s trial will most likely begin in 2012. “It will not happen before the end of this year,” Busch said. “That will be a starting point. Then we will see how long we need next year.”
UPDATE 27, Thursday, July 28, 9:53 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): According to Henning Holtaas, spokesman for the Norwegian police, the likelihood that suspect Anders Behring Breivik had accomplices in the shooting and bombing attacks “has become weaker over time,” The Daily Telegraph reports. “We have always said that we are not ruling out that others were involved and we are investigating this,” Holtaas said during a news conference. “It’s natural that we are checking all his communications. Earlier, witness accounts indicated that there were several shooters, but nothing in the evidence we found on the island backs that up.”
UPDATE 28, Thursday, July 28, 3:47 p.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): According to Reuters, Norway’s major political parties have all reported increases in membership since the July 22 attacks. “We have seen a jump in membership of all parties,” Labour Party politician Svein Roald Hansen said. “I think it shows that people are following what the prime minister asked for.”
It’s not just the center-left Labour Party that’s claiming gains in membership. Norway’s populist, conservative Progress Party (a party for which Breivik was a “youth member” for five years, but that he later denounced as being too cozy with “multiculturalism”) also saw a spike in the past week:
The opposition Progress Party, whose strength has grown in recent years partly due to its tough line on immigrants, also said it had received a boost, gaining at least 487 new members.
“Usually it’s very, very quiet at this time of the year, so this is something extraordinary. Normally in July most people are on vacation,” said party spokesman Mazyar [Keshvari].
“We know quite a bit about their motivation as well. In the internet application page, there’s a comment box, and many, many people are saying ‘I’m going to be more politically active so we can stay united against terror’,” [he] said.
Representatives of Norway’s Socialist Left Party have said that their membership has surged by more than 290 (according to Reuters, that’s a big gain for a “small party and a country of only 4.8 million [people]”).
The total number of new members in all the political parties has not yet been tallied.
UPDATE 29, Thursday, July 28, 4:13 p.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): On Thursday, police in Norway released the names of another 24 casualties of last week’s massacre. The police have so far named 41 of the victims and have said that additional names will be released to the public as identities are confirmed.
The Guardian has the story:
The youngest victim was Johannes Buø, 14. All but one were shot…on Utøya. The other died in the bomb attack in Oslo.
Officers called off their search after finding the body of a young Georgian woman, Tamta Liparteliani, who had been at the youth camp on Utøya. The girl’s parents had travelled to Norway in the hope of finding her alive but it was announced her body was found on the bottom of the lake with gunshot wounds in her back.
UPDATE 30, Thursday, July 28, 4:29 p.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): The British “Hope not Hate” campaign, which is organized by the anti-fascist UK periodical Searchlight, has been posting online comments that they believe were written by Anders Behring Breivik. The comments were originally posted on various right-wing, anti-Muslim websites such as Gates of Vienna and Stormfront, an online forum for white “racial realists.”
The collection of comments, featured on a “Hope not Hate” blog, includes the following:
[A]nti-immigration laws/closed borders will only delay a Muslim takeover at best. Even in areas with a poor living standards/weak economies (like Kosovo was) they will outbreed non-muslims. It will only take them a few more decades.
UPDATE 31, Thursday, July 28, 5:17 p.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Anders Behring Breivik claims that he legally procured clips of high-capacity ammo from an American retailer via mail. Politico reports (emphasis my own):
Anders Behring Breivik [claims to have purchased ten] 30-round ammunition clips for his .223 caliber rifle from an undisclosed, small U.S. supplier, which had acquired the clips from other suppliers. Norway forbids the sale of clips for hunting rifles that hold more than three bullets, according to Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.
Breivik wrote in his manifesto that while he could have purchased the high-capacity magazines in Sweden, they would have been significantly more expensive than ordering them from a U.S. supplier…
The sale or transfer of high-capacity gun clips containing more than 10 bullets were illegal in the United States under the 1994 assault weapons ban, but the legislation expired in 2004. After Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was critically shot and six others killed during the January shootings outside a Tucson supermarket, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation to restrict magazines to their pre-2004 level.
She said the legislation now has 109 Democratic co-sponsors. It is highly unlikely to come to a vote, let alone pass, in the GOP-controlled House.
UPDATE 32, Friday, July 29, 9:40 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): Some prominent gun control activists in the US say the Norway incidents further vindicate their push for stricter gun laws, CBS reports:
Other anti-gun violence activists agreed that [Anders Behring] Breivik’s claims strengthen the case for [Rep. Carolyn] McCarthy’s bill. “From Arizona to Norway, America’s shamefully weak gun laws are costing innocent lives,” Dennis Henigan, the acting president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement.
Kristen Rand, the legislative director for Violence Policy Center, added: “America’s militarized gun industry is now in the business of exporting U.S.-style gun violence.”
UPDATE 33, Friday, July 29, 10:11 a.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): On Friday, Anders Behring Breivik was transported from Ila Prison in an armored SUV for another day of questioning at police headquarters in Oslo. Norwegian police official Paal-Fredrik Hjort Kraby had told reporters that Breivik would be questioned based on “information received over the last few days – which is a lot.”
Here’s Channel 4 News‘ footage of Breivik’s transport on Friday:
Prosecutors also appointed two psychiatrists to determine Breivik’s mental health, and if he is criminally responsible.
AFP has the story:
Asked if…Breivik was legally insane, [Norwegian prosecutor Paal-Fredrik Hjort Kraby told journalists]: “We will have to let the professionals decide…They face a lot of work and when they are finished we will know much more.”
He insisted it was “way too soon” to make an assessment crucial in determining whether…Breivik can be brought to trial next year, as prosecutors want.
Hjort Kraby meanwhile said Friday’s interrogation at police headquarters was focused on reviewing the detailed transcript of his previous interview last Saturday.
UPDATE 34, Friday, July 29, 5:21 p.m. EDT (Asawin Suebsaeng): The Guardian reports that the total death toll from the July 22 bombing and shooting in Norway has been revised to 77, which is up from the previous body count of 76:
Eight of the victims were killed by the bomb attack by Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo’s government district and 69 died after he shot them at a political youth camp on the island of Utøya. No explanation was given [by Norway’s police] for the increase.
News of the one-person increase came as the first series of funerals for attack victims were held.
Here’s Al Jazeera English’s coverage of the memorial services: