The Trail of Evil Can Europe's Populists Be Blamed for Anders Breivik's Crusade?
Part 9: Why Didn't Anyone Notice What Breivik Was Planning?
Breivik leased a farm in the small town of Rena, about 170 kilometers (105 miles) from Oslo, to devote himself to building bombs for three months. He had a neighbor, Svein Meldieseht, whom Breivik allowed to mow the grass on the land that he leased. The farmer visited the property on a number of occasions, sometimes even showing up unannounced.
Today, the neighbor says that Breivik looked like a city dweller who wore expensive shirts and knew nothing about farming, and who blacked out his windows. But all of this didn't make the neighbor suspicious enough to report Breivik to the authorities. Meldieseht says that two days before the attacks he saw a light-colored car in Breivik's driveway. It was parked in a way that no one could look inside. On the evening when the bomber was presumably busy packing his lethal cargo, Meldieseht says that he wanted to briefly drop in on Breivik. But then he decided it was too late in the day.
Bilal Güclü, co-proprietor of the Milano Rena Restaurante in the town, said he thought the killer was a nice student. Unlike some of his other customers, Breivik was very friendly toward him, even though he has a Turkish name.
Lasse Nordlie, owner of the Cuckoo's Nest bar, said he used to work as a profiler at the airport in Oslo. He says his job was to interpret the body language of passengers and, if anything looked suspicious, to check their travel documents and search their luggage. But although Breivik occasionally came in for a beer, the profiler says that the man certainly wouldn't have aroused his attention.
Police Security Service chief analyst Jon Fitje issued the "Annual Threat Assessment" for 2011 and came to the following conclusion: "As in previous years, the far-right and far-left extremist communities will not represent a serious threat to Norwegian society in 2011." In his security service headquarters in Oslo, Fitje admits that Breivik's name came up at least once in the agency's computer. He had ordered sodium nitrate online from a Polish company that was under surveillance. But it was only a small amount and, up to the time of the attacks, the name Breivik was only useless data for the investigators.
On July 22, at 6:25 pm, the police reached the island of Utøya. They discovered Breivik near the shore. One unit ran straight up toward him, the second approached from the side, using several trees for cover. In the command center in Oslo, Anders Snortheimsmoen, who headed the Delta unit that stormed the island, was in radio contact and could follow events as they unfolded. At the time, Breivik still had a number of loaded magazines in his vest and a bullet in the chamber of his semi-automatic rifle, a Ruger Mini-14. He had fired his Glock 17 pistol until it was empty, but he still had it on him. According to Snortheimsmoen, the slide of the pistol was pulled back.
Breivik was no more than 50 meters (165 feet) from the police. The policemen standing in front of Breivik told him to drop his weapons. He laid his rifle on the ground and spread out his arms. He slowly walked toward the unit. He was still carrying his pistol. The police saw a wire protruding from his vest. They were afraid that Breivik had concealed explosives on his body. They had permission to shoot Breivik if he took one more step. The unit behind the trees recognized that the wire led to an earplug. At this point, the decision was made to apprehend the suspect. The bloodbath ended at 6:27 pm.
Snortheimsmoen says that after the arrest the police found an iPod music player on Breivik. Just as he predicted in his manifesto, he had apparently listened to music while shooting his victims.
Breivik remained at the scene of his arrest for at least half an hour, guarded by a single policeman, while law enforcement officials searched the island for additional explosives and other perpetrators. They found plastic bottles filled with gasoline hanging in the trees. These were perhaps incendiary devices, which he intended to ignite later for a final inferno.
Breivik could not see the suffering that he had caused. But he could hear the wailing sirens of police cars, the sounds of motor boats and probably the cries of the children. Afterwards, the police brought him to a house on the island. Eye witnesses said later that he smiled on the way there.
Now, he is in custody near Oslo and has not been allowed to give public speeches in court. His lawyer refuses to procure him a uniform. Indeed, Breivik is not allowed to show himself to anyone at all. He is shrinking back to his normal stature.
His manifesto, this work of self-projection and self-glorification, reveals his thoughts and provides a glimpse of what was going on inside his head. It shows how he wants to be seen -- as a knight and a warrior -- but now he has lost control over how his story will be interpreted.
He describes himself as a dominant man, a fighter, but everyone who remembers him as a youngster -- from his neighbors in the middle-class neighborhood of Skoyen to his old schoolmates -- characterizes him as a nondescript individual who people quickly forgot.
He writes that he earned a great deal of money with various successful companies, but it doesn't look as if this were true. It is possible that he had backers. Investigators are also looking into the possibility that he is connected to a sensational crime. Over 6 million ($8.6 million) was stolen during a bank robbery in Stavanger in 2004. A large amount of this money has still not been recovered. The mastermind behind the robbery had connections to the man who leased the farm in Rena to Breivik.
The authorities are investigating, Norway is coming to terms with the shock and, if Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg gets his way, Breivik will have lost. The politician would like to see Norway become "an even more open, more tolerant democracy" in the future.
'The Struggle Is Over'
In his office in the heart of Oslo sits Geir Lippestad, the lawyer who, following much trepidation, finally agreed to defend Breivik. About one hundred meters away lies the spot where Breivik detonated his bomb. And only a few hundred meters away is the cathedral, where a sea of flowers has been laid out on the pavement, where memorial candles for the dead are still lit and mourners continue to pray. Every day, Lippestad passes by the banners on the church square that are held down by flowers and candles. The banners call for the maximum sentence of 21 years to be increased for Breivik. Many want to adapt justice to the injustices that he has committed.
"Probably he will eventually understand that the struggle is over for him now," says Lippestad.
The trial is not scheduled to begin for another six months. There are still many open questions. Breivik will be charged with 77 counts of murder, one for each individual who died by his hands.
Does Breivik regret what he did?
Lippestad speaks slowly: "He is sad, yes." But he apparently does not regret anything. "He sees his actions as a sort of necessary evil," the lawyer says. As far as Breivik is concerned, he engaged in a war that had to be started. He views it as a necessity.
"When I see him," says Lippestad, slowly enunciating his words, "then I see a person who is far removed from everything -- far from any reality, any socialization, far from any community."
Is he asking for anyone? For his mother, his family?
"No," says Lippestad.
REPORTED BY SVEN BECKER, RAFAELA VON BREDOW, THOMAS DARNSTÄDT, MANFRED ERTEL, JULIA AMALIA HEYER, HANS HOYNG, GUNTHER LATSCH, WALTER MAYR, JAN PUHL, SVEN RÖBEL, MATHIEU VON ROHR, BRITTA SANDBERG, HOLGER STARK, DANIEL STEINVORTH, BARBARA SUPP, CHRISTOPH SYDOW AND GERALD TRAUFETTER
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan and Paul Cohen
- Part 1: Can Europe's Populists Be Blamed for Anders Breivik's Crusade?
- Part 2: How Does an Average Citizen Turn into a Mass-Murderer?
- Part 3: Is Breivik a Psychopath?
- Part 4: How Does the Perpetrator Justify His Crimes?
- Part 5: Where Did Breivik Derive His Ideas From?
- Part 6: Who Are the People Who Influenced Breivik Intellectually?
- Part 7: How Do Right-Wing Bloggers Defend Themselves Against Accusations that They Bear Part of the Blame?
- Part 8: Is Breivik Different from Other Terrorists Such as Islamists and Anarchists?
- Part 9: Why Didn't Anyone Notice What Breivik Was Planning?