In Norway on July 22, 2011, the most sophisticated and deadly terrorist attack that took place in Europe since WWII occurred. The horror started in the central districts of the Norwegian capital, Oslo, with the detonation of a car-bomb so powerful that it shattered windows 2,000 feet away. This attack claimed the lives of eight Norwegians. The violence then moved to the island of Utoya, a short drive or boat ride away from the capital, where the nation’s Labor Party was holding a children and teenager’s youth camp. This time the violence was carried out with a Ruger Mini-14 Carbine and a Glock 17 pistol. As a result, the lives of 68 individuals, mostly promising youths, were snuffed out without any emotion or consideration. In total, the attacks claimed the lives of 77 people, with 151 more injured.
Unlike the September 11th attacks, the violence was not perpetrated by Islamic Fundamentalists, but rather by a lone bomber and gunman: Anders Behring Breivik. The thirty-three year old Breivik, far from having any ties to the Middle-East save for his anti-Muslim and anti-Semite views, is a native Norwegian. Instead, Breivik is part of a movement that has been growing in Europe and the United States in recent years: the rise of hate and ultra-right militant idealism. In a 1,518-page manifesto entitled 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence that was distributed electronically the day of the attacks, Breivik wrote out his creeds; including support for white nationalism, anti-feminism, ultra nationalism, as well as paramilitary and far-right extremism.
Almost a year has passed since that awful day in Norway, and Anders Breivik is finally seeing his day in court for the atrocities committed. Unfortunately for the family members of those injured and killed as a result of the carnage, Breivik appeared defiant and confident before the Norwegian court. He admitted to being the sole perpetrator of the July 22 attacks; he boasted, “I have carried out the most sophisticated and spectacular political attacks committed in Europe since the Second World War,” and claims that if he had the opportunity he would commit the crimes all over again. Ironically, Anders Breivik chose to plead “not guilty” to the criminal charges arrayed against him. In fact, Breivik states that he was acting in self-defense; that “the attacks . . .were preventative attacks.”
However, the trial is more concerned with his sanity than it is with proving his guilt; whether or not he is sane and deserving of a prison sentence, or in a poor mental state and deserving of psychiatric care. Additionally, there is an international concern. According to statements made in his manifesto, Breivik is a member of a secret, anti-Muslim militant organization called the “Knights Templar.” Little is known about this organization, and Breivik refuses to divulge any detailed information pronouncing that the prosecution is trying to delegitimize his claims. He claims his attacks were inspired by two people; the first, a ‘Serbian War hero’ who was exiled to Liberia, the other, an ‘English Protestant host’ in London. In any case, these claims do not aid in establishing any validity to the existence of the organization, or in ruling Anders Breivik as a sane individual.
What does have the Norwegian authorities worried is the claim that Breivik made during his arrest, which he reiterated during his first day in court His claim was that there are two other cells of his organization in Norway ready to attack. The problem that this creates is whether or not to believe his claims. Medical professionals have been unable to actually establish Breivik’s sanity, so who’s to say this claim, along with all the others, are not just folly and mindless ramblings of a madman? Could this man be a member of a shadowy and highly secretive organization that is dedicated to militaristic and ultra-rightwing ideals? Is he just a crazed madman and hate monger who added his extremist views to the wide variety already in existence? In either case, it is doubtful that anyone will disagree that Anders Behring Breivik should pay his dues to society for conducting such an abysmal act of terror.