Anders Behring Breivik. Photo credit: oslo politidistrikt
Soon after Anders Behring Breivik was arrested for the mass murder of 77 people on 22 July 2011 he claimed to be part of a militant nationalist group fighting a Muslim colonization of Europe and described three men he met in London as part of an alleged “inaugural meeting” of the Knights Templar. He described members as “some of the most brilliant political and military tacticians” in Europe and claimed that together they had come up with a “detailed long term plan on how to seize power in Western Europe.” His claims to be part of a underground network of far-right sleeper cells initially alarmed security services across Europe but has since been largely discounted. But the possibility of Breivik copycat crimes has partly informed the decision not to broadcast Breivik’s testimony. So, are there more budding Breiviks out there? Or is Breivik simply a deluded loner, who mistakenly believes there are others who follow his poisonous ideology?
Knights Templar: Figment of Breivik’s imagination? On day three of the trial, prosecutors quizzed Breivik about the Knights Templar group but he insisted, “It is not in my interest to shed light on details that could lead to arrests.” Prosecutors have said they believe Breivik’s “Knights Templar” group does not exist “in the way he describes it.” Breivik insists it does, and said police just had not done a good enough job in uncovering it. The Daily Telegraph suggested that Breivik has perhaps imagined himself to be part of a group. It reported that British far-Right activist Paul Ray is widely considered to be the unnamed “mentor” mentioned by Breivik in his police statement and 1,500-page manifesto but reminded that Ray has distanced himself from Breivik: “Ray, a former member of the English Defence League, who now lives in Malta, ran a ‘Richard the Lionhearted’ blog and has admitted he recognised himself in Breivik’s description. He has categorically denied however acting as a mentor to Breivik and said he has never met him. He traveled to Norway last August to voluntarily submit himself to police investigating the attack.”
Breivik’s worldview is shared by many all over Europe. Writing at The Guardian’s Comment is free, Aslak Sira Myhre, director of the House of Literature in Oslo, lamented that Norwegian politics remains a hate-filled arena even after the tragedy. Myhre argued that, “the debate on Islam and Islamophobia has hardened rather than softened after 22/7. In the aftermath of the killings, some anti-Islamic organisations and websites showed remorse, but that phase passed, and now the venom is even stronger. Those who insist that Islam poses a threat to Europeans and Norwegians, and claim the past 1,500 years is a story of a never-ending clash between a Christian civilization and Islamic barbary, are just as insistent as before. Instead of opening a door to decent debate, the terror has cemented divisions.” “We are looking so intensely into the eyes of the terrorist that we are becoming blind,” lamented Myhre. “We know all his guns, his suits and uniforms, his family and friends. He is becoming a celebrity, an icon of evil. But we close our eyes to the fact that Behring Breivik’s worldview is shared by many all over Europe. The collective disgust for his acts is not matched by the same unanimous disgust for his motives.”
Plenty more Breiviks out there. In a Bolton Patriots, Ethno Nationalists blog posting, the Bolton branch of the British National Party insisted there “are a lot more Brievik’s out there.” The blog author was careful to point out “I do not condone what Breivik has done for one minute,” but insisted that Breivik is “far from stupid” and he will “tell it like its is” about “the truth about Islam.” “But before anything like this happens again, the governments must realize that we are being took over, the white British people and the white Europian (sic) people are fast becoming the minority and something must be done to stop this,” boomed the blog, which added, “we have far to many Mosques and still more are being built, they are demanding we all eat Halal meat, they are demanding Sahria law, they are demanding an end to freedom of speech, they are demanding an end to Christianity, and people are at breaking point, there are a lot more Breivik’s out there and it’s time the governments sat up and took notice and looked after their own people first instead of putting Muslims first, otherwise there will be war on the streets in the near future.”
A Lithuanian Breivik? Unlikely. At The Lithuania Tribune opinion writer Kestutis Girnious wondered, “whether a similar killer is lurking in Lithuania” a country where “chauvinism, neo-fascism, and xenophobia are threateningly on the rise.” Girnius insisted that, “growing intolerance must be addressed” but argued that “talk of an ominous radicalism overwhelming society or of an outbreak of barely controlled xenophobia” is over-the-top – “Lithuania is not as dark a country as some would like to paint it.” Girnious said the unlikeness of a Lithuanian Breivik could be down to the fact that Lithuania has “practically no immigrants, or their number is very small compared to other European countries. Even illegal immigrants choose Lithuania only as a transit country en route to richer EU states because of unattractiviness (sic) of Lithuania‘s weather conditions, especially the cold winters, and the relatively low standard of living.”