More details have emerged about the arrest of right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who reportedly tried to bluff police into believing he didn’t act alone. Monitoring of right-wing websites, meanwhile, reveals some worrisome trends, and employees of bombed government ministries are suffering from post-traumatic syndrome.
As probes continue in the aftermath of Breivik’s attacks on government headquarters and a Labour Party summer camp on the island of Utøya, it’s clear that Norway will be plagued by the events of July 22 for a long time to come. Most Norwegians are moving on, and other issues now regularly top the news agenda, but local media still carry reports of new developments and follow-up coverage of the attacks every day.
News bureau NTB reported this week, for example, that many workers and ministry offices damaged or destroyed in the bombing are suffering hearing losses, visual disturbances and various forms of bodily pain. Because of summer holidays at the time, only around 500 persons were at work when the bomb exploded, killing eight persons and seriously many more, but now it appears far more than those who were there are also affected.
The less-serious injuries are also being closely monitored, along with signs of psychological problems resulting from post-traumatic stress. Some of the latter are also appearing among workers who weren’t at work, but who lost colleagues or even feel guilty that they weren’t there to help.
The ministry employees “have a great risk of work-related injury,” psychiatrist Ole Jørgen Hommeren told NTB. Health care experts are “registering everything, where they were when the bomb went off, what they experienced alone and with other colleagues, what they witnessed and the dilemmas they faced.”
Meanwhile, newspaper Aftenposten reported Thursday that the confessed bomber, who later carried out a massacre on Utøya, tried to give police who arrested him the impression that others were behind the bombing and that a third terror cell in Norway would cause “all hell to break loose.”
Håvard Gåsbakk, who led the police action on Utøya, has earlier told various media what he saw and experienced upon arrival on the island. Now Aftenposten writes that Gåsbakk has revealed more details in an internal police report on the drama.
He wrote that he and his colleagues could hear shooting as they approached Utøya, and they headed in that direction. After running along the water and then into the center of the island, the suspect was spotted after just a few minutes: “He stood in front of us with his hands over his head.” At that point he had a pistol in a hip holster, while a loaded automatic weapon requiring two hands was on the ground behind him, along with some of the victims he had killed.
Breivik “followed our orders and lay down on the ground, and was handcuffed. He said he viewed us as brothers and that he wasn’t out to get us (the police). He said this was a coup d’etat and the goal was to hit the Labour Party, which Islamified Norway.”
In addition to claiming that others bombed Norway’s government headquarters in Oslo, he said that “when the third cell carries out its plans, all hell would break loose.” Gåsbakk wouldn’t comment further on his report, and police in Norway and many other countries are investigating whether Breivik had accomplices. Their initial theory has been that he operated alone.
Signs of right-wing growth
Police investigators and anti-racism groups also have been monitoring right-wing websites, some of which Breivik used, in the aftermath of the attacks. While police and other terror experts predicted that Breivik’s actions would repel most people away from right-wing extremism, there’s been growth in some social media groups and website traffic.
Spokesmen for some extremist organizations claim they’re seeing growth as well. “They’ll always say that, and we don’t pay too much attention to that,” Kari Helene Partapuoli of the Antirasistisk Senter in Oslo told Aftenposten. “But we have also registered increased activity (on some websites). That’s cause for worry.”
The right-wing extremist Norwegian Defence League, for example, had 1,301 followers on Facebook “and activity has increased in some discussion forums,” Partapuoli said.
Police think it’s too early to draw any conclusions from activity in right-wing extremist circles. Norway’s police intelligence unit PST has not raised its terror threat levels.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
Join our Readers’ Forum or comment below.
To support our news service, please click the “Donate” button now.