Sunday, July 24, 2011
Breaking News - Europe on Alert
By Andrew Ward and Robin Wigglesworth in Oslo and Quentin Peel in Berlin
Police around Europe are on increased alert against far-right extremism as the man accused of killing 93 people in Norway’s bomb and shooting attack prepares to face charges in an Oslo court on Monday.
Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian, has admitted bombing government buildings in central Oslo on Friday before shooting dead scores of young people at a Labour party summer camp on Utøya, an island outside the capital. Under Norwegian law, he faces a maximum of 21 years in prison if found guilty of what Jens Stoltenberg, prime minister, called Norway’s “national tragedy”.
His lawyer said Mr Breivik had told him the attacks were “atrocious, but necessary” as a 1,500-page online manifesto emerged in which the alleged killer detailed his preparations and anti-Islamic motivations for the attacks. A YouTube video also emerged of Mr Breivik wearing a wetsuit and brandishing an automatic rifle.
Police said Mr Breivik told them he had planned and carried out the attacks alone but investigators continued scrambling for any evidence that he might be part of a broader network. Several people were detained after armed raids in properties in Oslo on Sunday but all were later released after being cleared of involvement in the attacks.
“He might be involved with like-minded people, but it seems like he was operating completely alone,” said Tore Bjørgo, a professor and far-right extremism expert at the Norwegian Police University College. “He seems to be an adherent to the “leaderless resistance” doctrine, and that makes things like this very difficult to detect.”
Across Europe, police authorities increased scrutiny of potential far-right threats while Muslim groups in the UK raised security levels amid fear of anti-Islamic activity. Europol, the European police agency based in The Hague, said it was setting up a task force to help investigate non-Islamist threats in Scandinavian countries.
In his online manifesto, the authenticity of which was confirmed by his lawyer, Mr Breivik wrote that “Muslims must be considered wild animals”. However, in an apparent explanation for his targeting Norway’s centre-left government and its political allies, he added: “Do not blame the wild animals but rather the multiculturalist … traitors who allowed these animals to enter our lands.”
Mr Bjørgo said the attacker may have hoped to inspire other extremists to follow his example. “It could happen, but the shock of the killings could also sabotage these movements somewhat,” he added.
A senior politician for Norway’s opposition Conservative party said: “He’s the first anti-Islamic terrorist, a new type of rightwing extremist ... It’s a pan-European, anti-Islamic, anti-elitist movement that tends towards conspiracy theories and sees everything in black and white.”
Meanwhile, some of Britain’s mosques said they were adding extra security in the wake of the deadly Norway attacks, Muslim community leaders said on Sunday.
“People are looking over their shoulders and afraid that we will be the next target,’’ Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, one of Britain’s largest Muslim organizations, told AP. “As a result, we’ve told people to be extra vigilant and there will be added security placed at mosques.’’
As the search continued for possible further victims, questions were being asked in Norway of why police took an hour to reach the island of Utøya, where the massacre took place, after the first shots were reported. Police cited the lack of an available helicopter and boat had slowed the response.
Norwegian political leaders and royalty on Sunday attended a memorial service for the victims in Oslo cathedral.