Anders Behring Breivik, the 32-year-old Norwegian charged in Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks in and just outside of Oslo, has confessed to both bombing the country’s government headquarters and gunning down scores of young Norwegians at a Labour Party summer camp. He has left a 1,500-page manifesto detailing his right-wing extremist beliefs and indicating a desire for martyrdom.
Breivik faces a custody hearing on Monday and has chosen a defense attorney who earlier defended one of the young neo-Nazis convicted of murdering Norwegian-African teenager Benjamin Hermansen in 2001. The attorney, Geir Lippestad. told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that Breivik has acknowledged that he’s behind the mass murder of at least 93 persons on Friday and that he had planned the attacks “over a long period.”
Seven of Breivik’s victims died in the bombing of Norway’s currently Labour-led government complex in downtown Oslo Friday afternoon and at least 86 were shot to death on the island of Utøya in the Tyri Fjord a few hours later. As many as 25 campers were still missing Sunday morning and feared dead although search efforts were continuing.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The death toll was later adjusted to 77.)
Breivik planned the attacks for as long as nine years, reported NRK. Lippestad said on national radio that he didn’t want to go into detail yet as to a motive, but Breivik’s own writings indicate he wanted to target the “political elite” in Norway in an effort to hinder development of a multi-cultural society. The Labour Party currently holds government party and has been a major force in Norwegian politics since World War II.
Ironically enough, Breivik’s new defense counsel has himself been a longtime member of the Labour Party but took on the case anyway, saying that it was “an important democratic principle” that everyone has the right to defense counsel. “He (Breivik) has expressed that it was gruesome that he had to carry out (the attacks), but in his head it was necessary,” Lippestad told website VG Nett.
Breivik has emerged as an avowed racist who also hated Muslims and wanted to free Europe of non-white, non-Christian residents. While he maintained a relatively low profile, he systematically had spent years honing his theories, plotting what prosecutors are calling the “terrorist acts” carried out on Friday, acquiring fertilizer to make explosives and also identifying other possible targets like the annual meeting of Norway’s organization for investigative journalism Skup. In a rambling book manuscript called “A European Declaration of Independence,” (NRK’s external website, in Norwegian and English), he uses the pen name Andrew Berwick.
Breivik was a former member of the youth group of Norway’s most conservative party, the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp), but was said to be too extreme for Frp. Breivik earlier had noted on a social media site that he was also a member of a frimurerloge (Free Masons lodge) and a member of the Oslo Pistol Club, and writes in his manifesto that he thinks he had too much freedom as a child.
His attorney told NRK Sunday morning that Breivik has said he acted alone and that he shouldn’t be punished for either the bombing or the massacre. “It’s clear from my point of view that it’s important to obtain a thorough medical evaluation of him” Lippestad told NRK, adding that the terrible nature of his actions on Friday raises questions about Breivik’s ability to stand trial and be held responsible for his own acts.
Lippestad said Breivik has been calm during questioning and expressed a willingness to cooperate with the police’s further investigation of Friday’s bombing and massacre.
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