Norway Terror Suspect Admits Attacks, Death Toll Now 76

The suspect in the deadliest attack in Norway since World War II has acknowledged carrying out the mass shooting and bombing, and claims to have worked with two other cells, a judge said on Monday.

Judge Kim Heger said that the suspect, Andres Behring Breivik, acknowledges carrying out the attacks, but said the attacks were necessary to prevent the “colonization” of the country by Muslims. He accused the Labour Party, whose members were targets of the mass shooting, of “treason” for promoting multiculturalism, the judge said. (CNN)

Police refused to release information about their investigation into the possibility that two cells aided Breivik, saying Monday that a court hearing was closed so as not to disclose information. Other court officials have said they could not confirm the existence of the cells and referred questions to police.

During his court hearing Monday, Breivik appeared “very calm,” an official said. “He was very concise in trying to explain why he was trying to do this,” the official said. “But when he started reading from his manifest, he was stopped.” (CNN ) Two court psychiatrists will be assigned to the case, he added. Prosecutor Christian Hatlo told reporters that Breivik was very calm and “seemed unaffected by what happened.” (CBC)

Heger ordered Breivik to remain in custody for eight weeks, until his next scheduled court appearance, as authorities continue to investigate a bombing in Oslo and a mass shooting at a nearby island that together killed at least 76 people.

Authorities originally said 93 had died but announced Monday that eight people were confirmed dead in the bombing and 68 in the shooting. Also on Monday, police said they were searching Utoya Island for shooting victims, adding that 50 officers were going through “to make sure there are no casualties left.” (CNN)

The suspect will be held in isolation for the first four weeks of his custody because of the possibility of tampering with evidence, Heger said. He will have access to his lawyer but no one else, and no letters or news, court officials said.

Breivik, 32, is a suspected right-wing Christian extremist who appears to have written a 1,500-page manifesto ranting against Muslims and laying out meticulous plans to prepare for the attacks. CNN has not independently confirmed that Breivik is the author of the manifesto, which says it is designed to be circulated among sympathizers and bears his name.

The judge spoke to reporters after Monday’s hearing, which was closed to the public for “security reasons and because of a concern that it would impede the investigation,” court communications director Irene Ramm told CNN.

“It is clear that there is concrete information that a public hearing with the suspect present could quickly lead to an extraordinary and very difficult situation in terms of the investigation and security,” the court said in a statement. (CBC) The court acknowledged that there was a need for transparency in the case and that it normally would consider arguments from the press, but said that wasn’t possible “for practical reasons.” (CBC)

Breivik asked to wear a uniform to the hearing but was not allowed to, court official said.

The Norwegian government called for a national moment of silence in their memory Monday, ordering trains halted as a part of a nationwide observance to remember the victims of Friday’s bombing in downtown Oslo and shooting at a political youth retreat on Utoya Island. Court officials were among the many who stood in silence to mark the moment at noon.

One Oslo citizen, Sven-Erik Fredheim, told Reuters: “It is important to have this minute of silence so that all the victims and the parents of the families know that people are thinking about them.” (BBC)

Police spokesman Henning Holtaas told CNN that the suspect has been charged with two acts of terror, one for the bombing and one for the mass shooting.

In Norway, the maximum sentence on such a charge is 21 years. However, if the court deems that a person could be a future threat, then they can be sentenced to “preventative detention,” Holtaas said. Under that type of sentence, a person would serve the maximum sentence of 21 years and then the court could assess an extension if the person was still deemed a threat, he said. (CNN)

Breivik, a Norwegian, told investigators he acted alone and was not aided in the planning, acting National Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim told reporters Sunday. Sponheim said that investigators were studying a manifesto that authorities believed was published online the day of the attack.

The suspect told investigators during interviews that he belonged to an international order, the Knights Templar, according to Norwegian newspaper VG, which cited unnamed sources. He described the organization as an armed Christian order, fighting to rid the West of Islamic suppression, the newspaper said. He also told investigators he had been in contact with like-minded individuals and said he counts himself as a representative of this order, he said. Holtaas declined to confirm the news report, saying “we are not commenting on such details.” (CNN)
The newspaper report mirrors statements in the manifesto. In the manifesto, there are photographs of Breivik wearing what appears to be a military uniform that features an altered U.S. Marine Corps dress jacket with Knights Templar medals. The Knights Templar were Christian Crusaders who helped fight against Muslim rule of the Holy Land in the Middle Ages, but the order was shut down 700 years ago.

The manifesto with Breivik’s name on it refers to a “European Military Order and Criminal Tribunal (the PCCTS – Knights Templar) … created by and for the free indigenous peoples of Europe” in London in 2002. (CNN) The manifesto rants against Muslims and their growing presence in Europe and calls for a European civil war to overthrow governments, end multiculturalism and execute “cultural Marxists.” (CNN)

Breivik’s manifesto began to provide insight into the man who says the first step in his journey to becoming a mass killer began when he was a boy, during the first Gulf War, when a Muslim friend cheered at reports of missile attacks against U.S. forces. “I was completely ignorant at the time and apolitical, but his total lack of respect for my culture (and Western culture in general) actually sparked my interest and passion for it,” Breivik wrote. (CBC) Breivik says it was the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 that “tipped the scales” for him because he sympathized with Serbia’s crackdown on what he called the “Islamization of Europe” couldn’t be stopped by peaceful means. (CBC) Breivik’s manifesto chronicles events that deepened his contempt for Muslims and the “Marxists” he blamed for making Europe multicultural. He suggests his friends didn’t even know what he was up to, and comments from several people who had contact with the quiet, blond man suggest he was right.

Authorities allege that Breivik killed eight people Friday by setting off a car bomb in downtown Oslo that targeted government buildings, then traveled 20 miles to Utoya Island and killed 68 teens and young adults in an ambush at a political youth retreat. Authorities said Monday they were working on trying to nail down the timing of the attacks.

The suspect was carrying a considerable amount of ammunition when he surrendered to authorities, Sponheim told reporters.

Investigators will conduct autopsies over the next few days, Sponheim said, and the identities of the victims will be released once all the next-of-kin have been notified. Among those killed on the island was Trond Berntsen, the step-brother of Crown Princess Mette-Marit, according to a statement released by the Royal House Communications office. At least four people have not been accounted for around Utoya Island, with investigators searching the waters nearby for victims who may have drowned trying to escape the shooter.

Jack Levin, a professor at Northeastern University in Boston who has written a number of books on mass murderers, said the manifesto helps Breivik show himself as more human. “It makes the killer look like a victim rather than a villain,” he said. (CBC)

From September 2009 through October 2010, Breivik posted more than 70 times on Dokument.no, a Norwegian site with critical views on Islam and immigration. In one comment, he entertained the idea of a European movement along the lines of the Tea Party movement in the United States. In December of 2009, Breivik showed up at a meeting organized by the website’s staff.

“He was a bit strange. As one could see from his postings, he had obviously read a lot but not really digesting it,” said Hans Rustad, the editor of the website. However, Rustad said, he “hadn’t the faintest idea” about Breivik’s murderous plans. “Other people have the same views on the net and they don’t go out and become mass murderers, so how can you tell?” Rustad said. (CBC)

Breivik calls his upbringing in a middle-class home in Oslo privileged even though his parents divorced when he was a year old and he lost contact with his father in his teens. His parents split when the family lived in London, where Jens Breivik was a diplomat at the Norwegian Embassy in London. A spokesman for the embassy, Stein Iversen, confirmed that Breivik had been employed at the embassy in the late 1970s but wouldn’t discuss his relationship with the Oslo suspect.

Anders Breivik said both parents supported Norway’s centre-left Labour Party, which he viewed as infiltrated by Marxists. His mother won a custody battle, but Breivik said he regularly visited his father and his new wife in France, where they lived, until his father cut off contact when Breivik was 15. The father told Norwegian newspaper VG that they lost touch in 1995, but that it was his son who wanted to cut off the contact. His father said Monday that he’s ashamed and disgusted by his son’s acts, telling a Swedish tabloid he wishes his son had committed suicide.

Breivik’s mother lives in an ivy-covered brick apartment building in western Oslo, currently protected by police. Neighbours said they hadn’t seen her since a few days before the shooting. Police said they’ve spoken to her and that she didn’t know of her son’s plans.

In his manifesto, Breivik says he had no negative experiences from his childhood, though he had issues with his mother being a “moderate feminist.” “I do not approve of the super-liberal, matriarchal upbringing though as it completely lacked discipline and has contributed to feminize me to a certain degree,” he says. (CBC)

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