The international search for accomplices and supporters of the Oslo and Utøya attacks suspect Anders Behring Breivik has begun, as Norwegian police revealed that he had been on one of their lists as early as March. His links to British far right organizations and extremists have sparked an investigation in the country.
Breivik’s 1,500-page online manifesto, signed with the anglicized pseudonym “Andrew Berwick” and claiming to have been written in London, mentions a number of links to the far right in Britain. The suspected terrorist further claimed in his appearance in an Oslo court on Monday that there were two further “cells” in operation to which he was connected.
British links revealed
Breivik’s manifesto mentions a British mentor named “Richard,” who is yet to be identified but is believed to be named after the British king “Richard the Lionheart,” famed for his involvement in the Crusades. One British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, claims to have found a blog written by someone calling himself “Lionheart” and authorities are now investigating.
The “Lionheart” blogger’s real name is Paul Rey, who claims to be a “founding father” and active participant in the English Defence League (EDL). The EDL has held a number of violent anti-Islamic demonstrations in the UK in recent years. In his manifesto, Breivik said, “I used to have more than 600 EDL members as Facebook friends and have spoken with EDL members and leaders.” He claims to be “one of the individuals who supplied them with processed ideological material (including rhetorical strategies) in the very beginning.” In other comments attributed to Breivik online, he states that a key strategy for “Christian conservatives” in Norway is to establish their own version of the EDL.
Breivik ‘participated in British demonstrations‘
The EDL have released a statement that reads, “we can categorically state that there has never been any official contact between him and the EDL.” Nonetheless, a number of EDL members have informed The Daily Telegraph that they have had contact with Breivik. He is believed to have been in London as part of a far-right solidarity demonstration when Dutch politician Geert Wilders visited Britain.
An EDL organizer, Daryl Hobson, told The Daily Telegraph that several members of the organization had met Breivik. A Facebook post from Hobson also claims that Breivik “did come over for one of our demo [sic] in 2010,” before going on to say that “what he did was wrong.” An anonymous member of the EDL also told the newspaper that they had met Breivik, suggesting that EDL members would be taken by an “extremely intelligent” man. “It’s like Hitler, people said he was hypnotic,” the source is quoted as saying. Another alleged EDL member, Katie Hedderick, posted on a message board about Breivik, stating “HIM?! He wrote some books and did talks didn’t he?”
The founder of the EDL, Stephen Lennon, told BBC news programme Newsnight on Monday night that “we’re against it [the Oslo attacks] but at the same time you cannot brush off millions of people who have concerns against Islam as lunatics.” Lennon has previous convictions for violence as part of scenes of football hooliganism. Another EDL leader, Tommy Robinson, is quoted by The New Yorker as saying, “we don’t want English lads blowing themselves up on our soil, but that will happen if they don’t give us a platform.”
‘Knights Templar’ and ‘Norwegian Defence League’
The order of the Knights Templar that Breivik claims to have been a member of, described as the “Knights Templar Europe,” was also apparently established in London in 2002. Breivik states that its aim is “to seize political and military control of western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda.” In his manifesto, Breivik claims to be the youngest in the group and had been put in contact with them through a “Serbian crusader commander.” He also claimed that the group later held larger meetings in “Balticum.”
A source in the Norwegian Defence League (NDL) has now also confirmed to newspaper Aftenposten that Breivik was a member, and that he used the pseudonym “Sigurd Jorsalfar.” Breivik was apparently active in the organization’s foundation but became increasingly less involved because “he believed we [the NDL] were too kind.” The NDL arranged its first demonstration on April 9, when just nine followers showed up and a large counter-demonstration was held by anti-fascists. The source said that the group “completely and utterly” distances itself from the attacks.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to investigate links between Breivik and the EDL, confirming to a number of news outlets that he takes them “extremely seriously.”
A British police expert has already been dispatched to Oslo to assist the police in identifying Breivik’s international connections. Europol are also assisting the Norwegian police, making use of their continental database of known far right extremists.
Breivik was on police list
Meanwhile, the Norwegian Police Security Service (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste, PST) confirmed on Monday that Breivik had come to their attention in March on a list of people who had bought products from a Polish firm selling chemicals. Breivik was reportedly checked but no further action was deemed necessary.
The PST’s director, Janne Kristiansen, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that his name was listed along with around 50 to 60 others “in connection with a currency check from an international customs project.” She added that the police “are not allowed without further grounds to put such names in our register, but we checked if we had anything else on the people on the list, if there was anyone that could be connected to other information we have, but we had absolutely nothing on Breivik.”
Kristiansen went on to say that following the attacks, the PST will not push for “methods or regulations where we will be able to keep surveillance over all people,” adding that “not even in the old East Germany, I believe, would one have been able to become aware of Breivik because he quite simply has not broken the law before.”
The PST has also said before that “lone wolves are something we cannot intercept in the kind of society we want to have.”
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