Manifesto for a massacre

Not far from Elverum, 130km north of Oslo, a cluster of clapboard buildings, white and red, sits under a low mountain ridge at the end of a dirt track.

It is to here, Asta, that armed police came on Saturday with orders to search a farmhouse and buildings for information about 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik, the man charged with killing at least 93 of his countrymen.

One of two properties linked to a man accused of bombing central Oslo before commencing a shooting spree at a political youth camp on the island of Utoya, the interest in the farm-which Breivik had registered as a vegetable-growing business called GeoFarm-was obvious.

In May, he had six tonnes of chemical fertiliser delivered which police believe was used in the making of his bomb.

The search of the Asta property, as well as Breivik's home in Oslo, came as investigators started piecing together a profile of the man behind the worst attack on Norway since World War II. They are attempting to burrow deep into his beliefs and to try to understand what he hoped to achieve.

A friend told the Norwegian newspaper VG that Breivik had been from the far right politically since at least his late twenties, when he began posting a series of opinions on Facebook and the Norwegian site, which is critical of Islam.

What has emerged so far paints a disturbing picture: a Christian fundamentalist with a deep hatred of multiculturalism, of the left and of Muslims, who had written disparagingly of prominent Norwegian politicians.

Raised in Oslo, he is reported to have attended the same Smestad primary school as Norway's crown prince, later attending schools in Oslo's Gaustad and the Handelsgymnasium. Writing later about his teenage years, he would describe racial tension between Norwegians and young immigrants.

Another significant event was his being baptised into the Protestant church of "his own free will" at the age of 15. More recently, however, he had expressed his disgust at his own church. "Today's Protestant church is a joke," he wrote in an online post in 2009. "Priests in jeans who march for Palestine and churches that look like minimalist shopping centres. I am a supporter of an indirect collective conversion of the Protestant church back to the Catholic."

He was a fan of violent video games and former neighbours said he had sometimes been seen in "military-style" clothing.

In the pictures that have so far emerged, Breivik appears well dressed, slender and clean shaven, a picture of the young entrepreneur he wanted to be. His businesses, however, were not much of a success, each one being dissolved after a short while after making a loss, until he established his farm business in 2009 and moved out of Oslo.

But the man who listed books by Kafka and George Orwell as his favourites made little secret to friends and others who frequented Christian fundamentalist and far-right websites of his racist views. A member of an Oslo Masonic lodge, reportedly a body builder and a hunter with two registered weapons - a Glock pistol and an automatic rifle-it has been Breivik's online profile that has, so far supplied the most public information.

He was a former "youth member" of his country's conservative Progress party between 1999 and 2004, a party he criticised in one posting for embracing "multiculturalism" and "political correctness" rather than taking an "idealistic stand".

Despite that, those who knew him in the party then described him as "calm and quiet", his extremism coming later. However, some who remember him from secondary school suggested yesterday that his far-right leanings went back to that period of his life; at least one suggested he had attended neo-Nazi events at the time.

In web postings, Breivik is clear on the nature of his notion of "idealism". He has described himself as a "nationalist" and written offensively of Somali immigrants with "full Norwegian passports" sitting at home on benefit and sending back money to the Islamist al-Shabaab.

One target of Breivik's anger was former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, a member of Norway's Labour Party, who had spoken to the youth camp on Utoya the day before the massacre.

What seems clear from his online postings was that Breivik increasingly perhaps had a grandiose sense of himself. In one- attacking Brundtland - he predicted that Norwegians would soon no longer be "immune to inflated [political] rhetoric", while in a solitary Twitter post a week before launching his attack, he paraphrased John Stuart Mill to write: "One person with belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests."

As journalists and police trawled through what Breivik had written, the first glimpses began to emerge that he had corresponded with far-right groups in several countries both to discuss ideological issues and also political strategies, including the creation of a Norwegian far-right nationalist party.

What motivated him to kill we can only imagine. Breivik wants to explain his actions to the police. Then, perhaps, the mystery of Anders Behring Breivik will be unravelled.


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