Prosecutors probe Breivik’s network

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Norway’s home-grown right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik was back on the witness stand in Oslo on Wednesday, with prosecutors continuing to question his background and alleged network of supporters and mentors.

Prosecutors Inga Bejer Engh and Svein Holden will be questioning terror defendant Anders Behring Breivik for the rest of the week. PHOTO: NRK pool

Prosecutors Inga Bejer Engh and Svein Holden were concentrating Wednesday on his encounters with right-wing extremist circles both in and out of Norway, raising questions about his activities in the years from when he dropped out of high school until he bombed Norwegian government headquarters and massacred scores of young Labour Party members last summer.

Engh picked up where she left off on Wednesday, when she repeatedly tried to get Breivik to say who gave him the right he claimed he had to “defend the Norwegian people” and “preserve Norwegian culture” by attacking those who he claims have allowed immigration. Their exchange in court was not allowed to be recorded, but transcripts were released by, among others, Norwegian news bureau NTB.

Breivik referred to “universal human rights” that he claimed “allow defense of your (people) and your culture.” Asked whether he gave himself that right, or whether someone else did, he eventually said that “I came in contact with militant nationalists in 2001. That contributed to why I made the choice that I did.”

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) was only allowed to film Wednesday's proceedings for a few minutes before Breivik's questioning got underway. Here he sits between his defense attorneys Geir Lippestad (left) and Vibeke Hein Bæra. Debate continues over court restrictions on coverage of the trial. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/Views and News

He said, however, that it was his own choice (to defend the Norwegian people by carrying out his attacks) and that he gave himself his “mandate.” He later added that “people who choose to be militant nationalists support armed battle. And as long as weapons are involved in a battle, people will always die.”

Breivik then started referring to “the mandate that we have given ourselves,” and Engh asked “who are ‘we’?” He responded “me and other militant nationalists in Europe.” He claimed they support “politically motivated violence to attract attention to an important issue.”

He went on to say that he was influenced and inspired by militant nationalists that he refused to name but claims to have met in Liberia and London in 2001. “They were militant nationalists before I was, so you can say that they have been part of my radicalization process,” Breivik testified.

He also refused to give names when questioning continued Wednesday morning, saying he was afraid they’d be arrested. He did refer earlier to “Norwegian nationalists” who have “fought” earlier, “from (exiled neo-Nazi) Erik Blücher to Johnny Olsen and Arne Myrdal,” but they were not among those he claims to have met in person. Myrdal, a controversial opponent to immigration, died in 2007 and other right-wing extremists have been trying to distance themselves from Breivik, claiming they’ve never had contact with him.

Breivik said his contact with his alleged supporters and like-minded mentors has often been “coincidental” and occurring over the Internet. He feared right-wing groups in Norway, though, were under surveillance. Under questioning from the lead judge in the case, Breivik testified that one key person he says he met in Liberia was a foreign contact. Breivik has earlier told police that the Knights Templar organization he claimed to be part of was established after former Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebæk and former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik had “authorized attacks on our Serbian brothers.” Breivik has expressed admiration for Serbian war criminals who attacked Muslims in Serbia.

The court action this week and for the next nine weeks that his trial is due to run is mostly aimed at establishing facts in the case and evaluating Breivik’s mental state. After making yet another clenched-fist extremist greeting after having his handcuffs removed, Breivik has remained mostly calm and controlled under questioning, wearing a dark suit and tie to Wednesday’s court session. He wants to be declared sane, and it’s thus important for him to appear as rational as possible.

Questioning on Thursday was expected to concentrate mostly on Breivik’s bombing of government headquarters, while Friday’s questioning would be devoted to the massacre on the island of Utøya. Breivik will also be on the witness stand on Monday, before examination of the bombing itself takes center stage the rest of next week.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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