Photograph from the Facebook site of Anders Behring Breivik
Even though police and the lawyer for Norway’s alleged terrorist Anders Behring Breivik – arrested for both a bombing in Oslo and the mass shooting of youths at a nearby island political retreat – claim the suspect has confessed to acting alone in both crimes, that hasn’t stopped authorities from investigating the possibility that others were involved.
Law enforcement officials from across Europe have begun tracking Breivik’s associates, and the arrest of six others in Oslo originally believed connected to the terrorist acts suggests police aren’t completely satisfied with Breivik’s confession.
For example, police have confirmed investigating reports from witnesses that there may have been a second shooter on the island of Utoya, where at least 84 victims were gunned down.
Then this morning, London Telegraph reporter Peter Hutchinson was on the scene at a run-down building in Oslo, where police stormed in and hauled away six men:
“I’m at an address in east Oslo where police are searching premises after conducting an armed raid earlier this morning,” Hutchinson reported. “Officers are scouring the derelict building near to the capital’s bypass in connection with the attacks on Friday. Neighbors reported that six men, dressed only in their underwear, were taken away by police.”
Later in the day, the Telegraph reported, the six suspects were released along with a police statement that no explosives were found at the location of the raid and no evidence was found to connect the suspects with Friday’s acts of terror.
Most intriguing, however, may be the ongoing effort to verify Breivik’s claim, through his lawyer, that he belongs to an international network of extremists.
In a 1,500-page online “manifesto” Breivik reportedly posted under the pseudonym Andrew Berwick of London only hours before the attacks, titled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” Breivik details his initiation into a group described as a reincarnation of the Knights Templar, a military order from the time of the Crusades.
According to the Telegraph, the document describes a secret meeting in London, established after Breivik encountered Serbian activists on the Internet, who in turn put him in touch with others. Nine people reportedly attended the meeting, including individuals from across Europe.
Breivik wrote: “I met with them for the first time in London … the founding session in London, 2002. I was the youngest one there, 23 years old at the time.
“One of the key founders instructed the rest of the group about several topics related to the goal of the organization,” he continued. “I believe I scribbled down more than 50 full pages of notes regarding all possible related topics.
“Much of these notes are forwarded in the book 2083. It was basically a detailed, long-term plan on how to seize power in Western Europe,” he wrote.
Breivik labeled himself a Justiciar Knight Commander for Knights Templar Europe in his manifesto. He also pointedly makes thanks to “brothers and sisters in England, Germany, Sweden and the U.S.,” among other nations.
London’s Scotland Yard has since sent a detective to Norway. The U.K. police agency has confirmed its intentions to set up a task force to assess the threat of extremist groups in Scandinavian countries. Spokesman Soeren Pedersen from Europol, the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency, further told the Telegraph its list of suspects could be expanded to include members from other countries such as Britain.
And according to European security officials speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anyonymity, investigators are aware of increased Internet chatter from individuals claiming they belonged to the Knights Templar group that Breivik refers to in the manifesto. The officals said they were still investigating claims that Breivik, and other far-right individuals, attended a London meeting of the group in 2002.
Breivik’s lawyer, Geir Lippestad, has told different Norwegian media that Breivik admitted responsibility for the attacks, calling them “atrocious” but “necessary.”
Breivik’s motives, Lippestad reports, were to attack Norway’s prevailing Labour Party – thus explaining the assault on Utoya, where the party was hosting a political youth rally – over the issue of multiculturalism and immigration into Norway. The alleged terrorist reportedly warned “doomsday would be imminent” unless the party changed its policies.
Breivik has reportedly also promised a further explanation of his motives in court tomorrow.