The 2011 Norway Attacks

Anders Behring Breivik smiles for the cameras
Anders Behring Breivik smiles for the cameras

The 2011 Norway attacks were two sequential lone wolf terrorist attacks against the government, the civilian population and a Workers’ Youth League (AUF)-run summer camp in Norway on 22 July 2011, claiming a total of 77 lives.

The first was a car bomb explosion in Oslo within Regjeringskvartalet, the executive government quarter of Norway, at 15:25:22 (CEST). The bomb was made from a mixture of fertiliser and fuel oil and placed in the back of a car. The car was placed in front of the office block housing the office of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and other government buildings. The explosion killed eight people and injured at least 209 people, twelve of them seriously.

The second attack occurred less than two hours later at a summer camp on the island of Utøya in Tyrifjorden, Buskerud. The camp was organized by the AUF, the youth division of the ruling Norwegian Labour Party (AP). A gunman dressed in a homemade police uniform and showing false identification gained access to the island and subsequently opened fire at the participants, killing 69 of them, and injuring at least 110, 55 of them seriously, the 69th victim died in a hospital two days after the massacre. Among the dead were personal friends of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and the stepbrother of Norway’s crown princess Mette-Marit.

The Utøya island
The Utøya island
The executive government quarter of Norway
The executive government quarter of Norway

It was the deadliest attack in Norway since World War II, and a survey found that on average, 1 in 4 Norwegians knew “someone affected by the attacks”. The European Union, NATO and several countries around the world expressed their support for Norway and condemned the attacks. On 13 August 2012 Norway’s prime minister received the Gjørv Report which concluded that Norway’s police could have prevented the bombing of central Oslo and caught the gunman faster at Utøya, and that more security and emergency measures to prevent further attacks and “mitigate adverse effects” should have been implemented on 22 July.

The Norwegian Police arrested Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian right-wing extremist, on Utøya island and charged him with both attacks. The trial against him took place between 16 April and 22 June 2012 in Oslo District Court, and as at all his remand hearings Breivik admitted to having carried out the actions he was accused of, but denied criminal guilt and claimed the defense of necessity (jus necessitates). On 24 August 2012 Breivik was convicted as charged and sentenced to 21 years of preventive detention in prison, which at the end can be repeatedly extended for 5 years as long as he is considered a threat to society.

Preparation for the attacks

Breivik claims to have begun the planning of terrorist acts in 2002, at the age of 23. Anders Behring Breivik had participated for years in debates in Internet forums and spoken against Islam and immigration. He was preparing for the attacks from at least as early as 2009, though he concealed his violent intentions.

Download Breiviks manifesto here

Failed attempt to buy weapons in Prague

Breivik spent six days in Prague in late August and early September 2010. He chose the Czech Republic because the country has some of the most relaxed laws regarding guns and drugs in Europe. Following his Internet inquiry, Breivik noted that “Prague is known for maybe being the most important transit site point for illicit drugs and weapons in Europe”. Despite the fact that Prague has one of the lowest crime rates among European capitals, Breivik expressed reservations about his personal safety, writing that he believed Prague to be a dangerous place with “many brutal and cynical criminals”.

He hollowed out the rear seats of his Hyundai Atos in order to have enough space for the firearms he hoped to buy. After two days, he got a prospectus for a mineral extraction business printed, which was supposed to give him an alibi in case someone suspected him of preparing a terrorist attack. He wanted to buy an AK-47-type rifle (this firearm is however not very common in the country, unlike the Vz. 58), a Glock pistol, hand-grenades and a rocket-propelled grenade, stating that getting the latter two would be a “bonus”.

Breivik had several fake police badges printed to wear with a police uniform, which he had acquired illegally on the Internet, and which he later wore during the attack. Contrary to his expectations, he was completely unable to get any firearms in the Czech Republic, commenting that it was the “first major setback in his operation”. In the end, he concluded that Prague was “far from an ideal city to buy guns”, nothing like “what the BBC reported”, and that he had felt “safer in Prague than in Oslo”.

Arming in Norway and through the Internet

Originally, Breivik intended to try to obtain weapons in Germany or Serbia if his mission in Prague failed. The Czech disappointment led him to procure his weapons through legal channels. He decided to obtain a semi-automatic rifle and a Glock pistol legally in Norway, noting that he had a “clean criminal record, hunting license, and two guns (a Benelli Nova 12 gauge pump-action shotgun and a .308 bolt-action rifle) already for seven years”, and that obtaining the guns legally should therefore not be a problem.

Upon returning to Norway, Breivik obtained a legal permit for a .223-caliber Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic carbine, ostensibly for the purpose of hunting deer. He bought it in late 2010 for €1,400 ($2000). He wanted to purchase a 7.62x39mm Ruger Mini-30 semi-automatic carbine, but did however for unknown reasons buy the Mini-14.

Getting a permit for the pistol proved more difficult, as he had to demonstrate regular attendance at a sport shooting club.[34] He also bought ten 30-round magazines for the rifle from a United States supplier, and six magazines for the pistol (including four 30-round magazines) in Norway. From November 2010 to January 2011 he went through 15 training sessions at the Oslo Pistol Club, and by mid-January his application to purchase a Glock pistol was approved.

Breivik claimed in his manifesto that he bought 300 g. of sodium nitrate from a Polish shop for €10 in December 2010, in order to make a bomb fuse. In March 2011, he legally bought 100 kg of chemicals from a small Internet-based Wrocław company. The Polish ABW interviewed the company owner on 24 July 2011. Breivik’s Polish purchases initially led to him being put on the watch list of the Norwegian intelligence, which did not act because they did not believe it was relevant.

He had also planned a last religious service (in Frogner Church, Oslo) before the attack.

Breivik Geofarm

On 18 May 2009 Behring Breivik created a sole proprietorship called Breivik Geofarm, a company established under a fictitious purpose (the cultivation of vegetables, melons, roots and tubers). The real purpose was to gain access to chemicals and materials, especially fertilizer that could be used for the production of explosives without arousing suspicion.

The place of business was given as Åmot in Hedmark. On 4 May 2011 Breivik purchased six tonnes (13,000 lb) of fertilizer through Geofarm at Felleskjøpet, three tonnes (6,600 lb) of ammonium nitrate and three tonnes of calcium ammonium nitrate. According to neighbours, all the fertilizer was stored in his barn. After conducting a reconstruction of the bomb with equivalent amount of fertilizer on the farm in Åmot, police and bomb experts concluded that the bomb had been 950 kilograms, about the same size as the one used in the 2002 Bali bombings. Afterwards there was significant debate in Norway about how an amateur could acquire such substantial amounts of fertilizer and in addition manufacture and place such a lethal weapon in the middle of Regjeringskvartalet all by himself. The conclusion by Felleskjøpet was that there is no legislation to keep agricultural businesses from buying as much fertilizer as they like, and that there was nothing suspicious about Breivik’s purchase. This was confirmed by the director of the Norwegian Police Security Service, Janne Kristiansen, who stated “not even Stasi could have prevented this attack”

The company listed at least two Swedish employees at the social networking site Facebook, but it is uncertain whether these people existed.

In April 2011 he reported moving from Oslo to Vålstua farm in the municipality of Åmot, about 9 kilometres (6 mi) south of the community centre Rena, on the east side of Glomma. His agricultural company was run from the farm, and gave him access to ingredients for explosives.

His 950-kilogram (2,090 lb) car bomb exploded in central Oslo on 22 July 2011 where it killed eight people. He had between 1,000 and 1,500 kilograms (2,200 and 3,300 lb) additional material that was left on the farm and could be used for construction of a third bomb.

Weapons training

Beside visiting firing ranges and countries with relaxed gun laws to sharpen his skill, Breivik’s manifesto says that he made use of the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as a training aid while using World of Warcraft as a cover for his extended period of isolation. He also said that he honed his shooting skills using an in-game holographic sight similar to the one he used during the attacks.

Oslo bombing

On 22 July 2011 at 3:25:22 pm (CEST) a bomb detonated in Regjeringskvartalet, central Oslo. The bomb was placed in a white Volkswagen Crafter and parked in front of the H block, housing the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Justice and the Police, and several other governmental buildings, such as the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (R4), Ministry of Finance (G block), Ministry of Education and Research (Y block) and the Supreme Court of Norway (behind the G block).

Man helping wounded woman after the Oslo bombing
Man helping wounded woman after the Oslo bombing

The Crafter was registered by surveillance cameras as entering Grubbegata from Grensen at 3:13:23 pm. The car stopped at 3:13:43 pm, 200 metres (660 ft) before the H block. It stood still with the hazard warning lamps on for 1 minute and 54 seconds. The driver then drove the last 200 metres and parked the car in front of the main entrance of the main government building. The car was parked at 3:16:30 pm. The front door of the van opened 16 seconds later and after another 16 seconds the driver stepped out of the car. He stood outside the car for 7 seconds before he quickly walked away towards Hammersborg torg, where he had another car parked.

A receptionist who was killed in the bombing tried calling the security guards about the suspicious van parked outside just before the blast.

The driver was dressed like a police officer and had a gun in his hand. A police helmet with a face shield was covering his face. Breivik was not positively identified.

The explosion started fires in the H block (H-blokka) and R4, and the shock wave blew out the windows on all floors as well as in the VG house and other buildings on the other side of the square. The streets in the area were filled with glass and debris. A cloud of white smoke was reported as a fire continued to burn at the Department of Oil and Energy. The blast was heard at least 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) away.

At 3:26 pm the police received the first message about the explosion, and at 3:28 pm the first police patrol reported that it had arrived at the scene. At the same time, news agency NTB was told that the Prime Minister was unhurt and safe.

A witness called police at 3:34 pm to report a person in a police uniform holding a pistol in his hand, entering an unmarked vehicle. Information including license plate number of the vehicle and description of the suspect was written on a yellow note, and hand delivered to the police operations central where it lay for twenty minutes before the witness was phoned back. The license plate number was not transmitted on the police radio until two hours later.

Following the explosion, police cleared the area and searched for any additional explosive devices. Through media outlets, police urged citizens to evacuate central Oslo.

Police later announced that the bomb was composed of a mixture of fertiliser and fuel oil (ANFO), similar to that used in the Oklahoma City bombing.

The blast was caught on many security cameras.

Impact on transportation

Immediately after the explosion, the area surrounding the damaged buildings was cordoned off and evacuated. People were asked to remain calm and leave the city center if possible, but there was no general evacuation. The Oslo Metro remained operational, and most of the Oslo tram network was also running, although sporadically, except for the line through Grensen (the street between Prof. Aschehoug’s plass and Stortorvet). Buses also continued to run, although at least one articulated bus on the No.37 line, which stops outside the Ministry of Finance, was commandeered to evacuate the walking wounded.

An e-mail communication with the BBC from a traveller indicated that police were conducting searches in cars on the road to Oslo Airport, Gardermoen, which remained open.

The Gardermoen Line between Lillestrøm and Oslo Airport was shut down after a suspicious package was found close to the tracks. The same happened at the offices of TV 2 which were evacuated after a suspicious package was found outside the building.

Utøya massacre


Approximately one and a half hours after the Oslo explosion, Breivik, dressed in a police uniform and presenting himself as “Martin Nilsen” from the Oslo Police Department, boarded the ferry MS Thorbjørn at Utøykaia in Tyrifjorden, a lake some 40 kilometres (25 mi) northwest of Oslo, to the island of Utøya, the location of the Norwegian Labour Party’s AUF youth camp, which is organised there every summer and was attended by approximately 600 teenagers.

When Breivik arrived on the island, he presented himself as a police officer who had come over for a routine check following the bombing in Oslo. He was met by Monica Bøsei, the camp leader and island hostess. Bøsei probably became suspicious and contacted Trond Berntsen, the security officer on the island, before Breivik killed them both. He then signalled and asked people to gather around him before pulling weapons and ammunition from a bag and indiscriminately firing his weapons, killing and wounding numerous people. He first shot people on the island and later started shooting at people who were trying to escape by swimming across the lake. Survivors on the island described a scene of terror. In one example, 21-year-old survivor Dana Barzingi described how several victims wounded by Breivik pretended to be dead to survive, but he later came back and shot them again. He did relent in his executions on some occasions: first, when an 11-year-old boy who had just lost his father (Trond Berntsen) during the shooting, stood up against him and said he was too young to die; and later, when a 22-year-old male begged for his life.

Some witnesses on the island were reported to have hidden in the undergrowth, and in lavatories, communicating by text message to avoid giving their positions away to the gunman. The mass shooting reportedly lasted for around an hour and a half, ending when a police special task force arrived and the gunman surrendered, despite having ammunition left, at 18:35. It is also reported that the shooter used hollow-point or frangible bullets which increase tissue damage. Breivik repeatedly shouted “You are going to die today, Marxists!”

The island’s manager, Monica Bøsei, was one of the victims. Her husband and one of her two daughters were also present, but escaped with their lives. The youngest victim, Sharidyn Svebakk-Bøhn of Drammen, was 14 years old.

Breivik is seen walking among the bodies of his victims
Breivik is seen walking among the bodies of his victims

16-year-old Andrine Bakkene Espeland of Sarpsborg was the last victim, nearly one hour after the shooting began.

Local residents in a flotilla of motorboats and fishing dinghies sailed out to rescue the survivors who were pulled out shivering and bleeding from the water and picked up from hiding places in the bushes and behind rocks around the island’s shoreline. Some survived by pretending to be dead. Several campers, especially those who knew the island well, swam to the island’s rocky west side and hid in the caves which are only accessible from the water. Others were able to hide away on the secluded Kjærlighetsstien (“love path”). Forty-seven of the campers sought refuge in Skolestua (“the School House”) together with personnel from the Norwegian People’s Aid. Although Breivik shot two bullets through the door, he did not get through the locked door, and the people inside this building survived.

Two ethnic Chechen teenagers Movsar Dzhamayev, 17, and Rustam Daudov, 16, who were at the island said later that they were reminded of the war in their native Chechnya. “I have seen people being shot before in my country when I was small and had flashbacks,” Dzhamayev said. But after speaking to his father by cell phone, he pulled himself together. “My dad said, ‘Attack the perpetrator and do it properly,'” he said. With a third unidentified friend, the teens armed themselves with stones and returned to the scene only to witness Breivik killing another teenager. “We stood three meters from him and wanted to beat him, but then he shot one of our friends in the head. So we just threw the stones and ran for our lives,” Daudov said.

The teenagers said that they had decided that it was too difficult to stop the gunman. They discovered a cave-like opening in a rock where they managed to hide 23 children from Breivik. Dzhamayev, who kept guard outside, also dragged three youngsters from the lake who were close to drowning.

Former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, whom Breivik said he hated and, in a pun on the epithet Landsmoderen – “mother of the nation”, referred to in his writings as landsmorderen – “murderer of the nation”, had been on the island earlier in the day to give a speech to the camp. After the attack Breivik stated that he originally wanted to target her specifically, but because of delays related to the renovation of Oslo Central railway station, she was already gone when the shooting started.

Rescue and emergency response

The first shot was fired at 17:22. The emergency medical services were informed about the shooting two minutes later. One minute after that the police in Oslo were informed. They immediately tried to reach Utøya as quickly as possible, but did not have a helicopter that could take them straight to the island. By 17:30, the anti-terror police in Oslo (the Emergency Response Unit) were on the way to Utøya.

One of the first to arrive on the scene was Marcel Gleffe, a German resident of Ski staying at Utvika Camping on the mainland. Recognizing gunshots, he piloted his boat to the island and began throwing life-jackets to young people in the water, rescuing as many as he could in four or five trips, after which the police asked him to stop. The Daily Telegraph credited him with saving up to 30 lives. Another forty were saved by Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen, a married couple holidaying in the area. Dalen was helping from land while Hansen and a neighbor camper made several trips to rescue people in the water. Several dozen more were rescued by Kasper Ilaug, who made three trips to the island. Ilaug, a local resident, received a telephone call that “something terrible” was happening on Utøya and requesting help. He initially thought the call was a prank, but acted anyway. Altogether, some 150 who swam away from the island were pulled out of the fjord by campers on the opposite shore.

The anti-terror police reached the meeting point at 18:09, but had to wait a few minutes for a boat to take them across. They reached Utøya at 18:25. When confronted by the heavily armed police on the island, the gunman initially hesitated for a few seconds. When an officer yelled “surrender or be shot” he laid down his weapons.

Anders Breivik called the 112 emergency phone number at least twice to surrender, at 18:01 and 18:26, and continued killing people in between. The police say Breivik hung up both times, they tried to call him back but did not succeed.

The police finds a few unfortunate victims
The police finds a few unfortunate victims
The same victims later covered with blankets
The same victims later covered with blankets

When the police arrived at the scene, they were met by survivors begging the officers to throw away their weapons, as they were afraid that the men in uniforms would again open fire on them.

During the attack, 69 people were killed, and of the 517 survivors, 66 were wounded.

Shortage of transport capacity

The Norwegian police do not have helicopters suitable for transporting groups of police for an airdrop. The one they have is useful only for surveillance and the helicopter crew was on vacation. The only helicopters available to the Oslo-based unit were military ones parked 60 kilometres (37 mi) south of the capital at Moss Airport in Rygge, and thus the special unit had to reach the location by car.

When the local police arrived at Utøykaia, less than 30 minutes after the first shot was fired, they could not find a suitable boat to reach the island. They were then ordered to observe and report.

AUF’s own ferry, MS Thorbjørn, was used by Breivik to go to Utøya. Shortly after the first shot was fired, nine people were leaving the island on the ferry, among them the AUF leader Eskil Pedersen. They feared there might be more terrorists in the area and navigated the ferry 2.7 kilometres (1.7 mi) to the north. Hence the ferry was not available to the police when they arrived at Utøykaia, the normal ferry landing on the mainland.

The police therefore had to use their own rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RIB). The day of the event, this boat was located in Hønefoss, and had to be transported to the lake and launched before it could be used. When the anti-terror police boarded the RIB it took on some water and after a few hundred meters, the engine stopped, probably due to water in the fuel. Two minutes later they took over a civilian boat that was sent to assist them. The episode was captured on video. A minute or two after the video ends, a faster civilian boat arrived to help. Four police officers from the anti-terror police boarded the boat. Not to waste any more time the civilian couple took the police to Utøya.

Some have criticized the police for not using a helicopter, for not immediately getting into small boats, and for endangering the couple who drove the civilian boat.

Arrest of innocent survivor

On arriving in Utøya, the police arrested, in addition to Breivik, Anzor Djoukaev, an innocent 17-year-old survivor who represented the Akershus branch of AUF. The youth was reportedly stripped naked and locked up in a jail cell, located only meters away from the cell housing the self-confessed killer. The victim, who as a child had witnessed mass murders in Chechnya, was suspected of being an accomplice because his haircut was different from that shown on his identity document, and because he did not react to the carnage with the same tears and hysteria as most of the other survivors. He was kept in custody for seventeen hours. Barrister Harald Stabell criticized the police for failing to contact the youth’s family, who feared he was killed, and for interrogating the victim without a lawyer present.


The victims
The victims



Eight people were killed in the explosion, the blast, shock wave and debris immediately killed six people, while two others died quickly afterwards from their wounds. Of the 325 people estimated to have been in the government buildings, around them and in the surrounding area, at least 209 people received physical injuries from the blast and debris. While most were relatively minor and could be treated at the local casualty clinic, 12 people received more serious injuries. Ten were sent to Ullevål University Hospital (OUS, Ullevål), four with moderate to serious and six with critical injuries, and two to Aker University Hospital (OUS, Aker). A doctor at one of the Oslo University Hospitals (OUS) said the hospital staff were treating head, chest and abdominal wounds.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was at his official residence near the Royal Palace, preparing the speech he was scheduled to give at Utøya the next day. Norway’s finance minister, Sigbjørn Johnsen, was on holiday in Denmark at the time.

Fewer people than usual were in the area because the bombing took place during July, the usual vacation month for Norwegians, and since it was Friday afternoon, most government employees had gone home for the weekend.


The scope of what happened at the island was initially very confusing, and the first official figures given was that at least 10 people had been killed. However, as the evening progressed several eyewitness reports put this number in doubt, and at approximately 03:50 (CEST) on 23 July, NRK1 and TV2, the two primary Norwegian television networks, broadcast a live press conference from the “Sentrum politistasjon” in Oslo where Norway’s National Police Commissioner Øystein Mæland stated the number of fatalities at Utøya to have reached “at least 80” with the count expected to increase.

On 25 July, a police spokesperson revealed that the death toll of the victims on Utøya had been revised downwards to 68 after the casualties had been counted on their return to the mainland. They added that the number of people missing was still high and that the number of casualties could be as high as 86. On 29 July police announced that one of the severely wounded victims from Utøya had died in a hospital, bringing the death toll from the island massacre to 69.

On 26 July, the Norwegian police began releasing the names and dates of birth of the victims on their website. By 29 July, the names of all 77 victims (8 from the bomb attack, 69 from Utøya) had been published, the last, a shooting victim, having been found on the 28th.

Of the 69 people that died after the attack on the island, 57 were killed by one or more shots through the head. In total 67 people were killed by gun shots, 1 died falling from a cliff trying to escape, and 1 drowned trying to swim away from the island. In total Breivik fired at least 186 shots, and still had a “considerable amount of ammunition” left.

In the aftermath, of the 564 people on the island at the time, 69 people died and at least 110 people had received various physical injuries. An estimated 50 people were treated at the locally set up casualty clinic, and were treated for relatively minor injuries such as cuts, bruises and hypothermia after fleeing and swimming from the island. On Utøya 22 July was a cloudy and rainy day, and air temperature was varying between 14–15 °C (57–59 °F). Water temperature around the island was 14 °C, and the closest distance to mainland is around 600 meters. Sixty people were transported to surrounding hospitals, 55 with serious to critical injuries. The chief surgeon who treated the wounds at one of the hospitals said he had never seen similar wounds during his 23 years of practice, and explained that the bullets were extremely fragmented in their path through the body. Thirty-three people had been directly hit by one or more bullets and survived, but one person who was shot died two days later in hospital from the bullet wounds to the head and back.

The 564 people on the island at the time were from all over Norway, and some were also visitors from foreign countries. The people who died were from 18 of Norway’s 19 counties, and also from Georgia. Wounded people were from the entire country, including Svalbard, and together with the casualties from Oslo, an average of a quarter of Norway’s population knew a victim affected by the attacks, according to a survey done. Several of the dead and wounded, or their parents, were personal friends of high ranking government ministers. Trond Berntsen, an off-duty, unarmed police officer and step-brother of Norway’s crown princess Mette-Marit, was the first to be shot dead.


Public broadcaster NRK and several other Norwegian media outlets identified the suspected attacker as Anders Behring Breivik. He was arrested on Utøya for the shootings and also linked to the Oslo bombing. He has been charged with terrorism for both attacks. According to his attorney, Breivik has acknowledged that he is responsible for both the bomb and the shooting during interrogation but denies culpability, as he asserts that his actions were “atrocious but necessary”. At his initial arraignment on 25 July, Breivik was remanded into custody for eight weeks, the first half to be in solitary confinement. Breivik wanted to have an open hearing, and attend it wearing a uniform of his own design, but both requests were denied by the presiding judge.

Mental health

Following his arrest, Breivik underwent examination by court-appointed forensic psychiatrists, who diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia and concluded he had been psychotic at the time of the attacks and was criminally insane. Although criticised in newspaper debates, the submitted report was approved with no remarks by the Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine after an extended panel of experts had reviewed it.

According to his defense attorney, Breivik initially expressed surprise and felt insulted by the conclusions in the report. He later stated that “this provides new opportunities”. In April 2012, he was declared to be sane.

Political and religious views

Breivik is linked to a 1,518 pages compendium entitled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence bearing the name “Andrew Berwick”. The file was e-mailed to 1,003 addresses about 90 minutes before the bomb blast in Oslo. Analysts described him as having Islamophobic views and a hatred of Islam, and as someone who considered himself as a knight dedicated to stemming the tide of Muslim immigration into Europe.

The introductory chapter of the manifesto defining “Cultural Marxism” is a copy of Political Correctness: A Short History of an Ideology by the Free Congress Foundation. Major parts of the compendium are attributed to the pseudonymous Norwegian blogger Fjordman. The text also copies sections of the Unabomber manifesto, without giving credit, while substituting the words “cultural Marxists” for “leftists” and “muslims” for “black people”. The New York Times described American influences in the writings, noting that the compendium mentions the anti-Islamist American Robert Spencer 64 times and cites Spencer’s works at great length. The work of Bat Ye’or is cited dozens of times. Neoconservative blogger Pamela Geller, Neo-pagan writer Koenraad Elst and Daniel Pipes are also mentioned as sources of inspiration. The manifesto further contains quotes from Middle-eastern expert Bernard Lewis, Edmund Burke, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell, as well as from Jeremy Clarkson’s Sunday Times column and Melanie Phillips’ Daily Mail column. The publication speaks in admiration of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Bruce Bawer, Srđa Trifković, and Henryk M. Broder. The compendium advocates a restoration of patriarchy, which it claims would save European culture.

The compendium contains his militant far-right ideology and xenophobic worldview, which espouses an array of political concepts; including support for varying degrees of cultural conservatism, right-wing populism, ultranationalism, Islamophobia, “far-right Zionism”, and Serbian paramilitarism. It regards Islam and “cultural Marxism” as the enemy and argues for the annihilation of “Eurabia” and multiculturalism, to preserve a Christian Europe. He further urged Europeans to restore the historic crusades against Islam as in the Middle Ages. A video Breivik released on YouTube 6 hours before the attack has been described as promoting violence towards Muslims and Marxists who reside in Europe.

Among other things, in the manifesto he identified the Beneš Decrees, which facilitated the Expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War, as an example for committing that act on European Muslims. In his manifesto he also urges the Hindus to drive Muslims out of India. He demands the gradual deportation of all Muslims from Europe from 2011 to 2083 through repatriation. He blames feminism for allowing the erosion of the fabric of European society.

Breivik’s writings mention the English Defence League, claiming that he had contact with senior members of the EDL, and that a Norwegian version of the group, was ‘in the process of gaining strength’. He wrote that the EDL were ‘naïve fools’ because in his words the EDL ‘harshly condemns any and all revolutionary conservative movements that employ terror as a tool’. EDL leader Tommy Robinson denounced Breivik and the attack on 26 July 2011 and denied any links with the Norwegian.

After being apprehended, Breivik was characterized by police officials as being a right-wing extremist. Breivik is described by the newspaper Verdens Gang as considering himself a conservative nationalist. According to The Australian, Breivik was highly critical of Muslim immigration into Christian societies, is pro-Israel and an admirer of the Tea Party movement in the United States. Deputy police chief Roger Andresen initially told reporters that “We have no more information than … what has been found on his own websites, which is that it goes towards the right and that it is, so to speak, Christian fundamentalist.” Subsequently, others have disputed Andresen’s characterization of Breivik as a Christian fundamentalist. Furthermore, Breivik stated that “myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God.” According to the International Business Times, in his manifesto, he “did not see himself as religious”, but he did identify as a cultural Christian and wrote about the differences between cultural and religious Christians, but stressed that both were Christians, and shared the same identity and goals. He has written many posts on the far-right website He attended meetings of “Documents venner” (Friends of Document), affiliated with the website. He is a former member of the Progress Party (FrP) and its youth wing FpU. According to the current FpU leader Ove Vanebo, Breivik was active early in the 2000s, but he left the party as his viewpoints became more extreme.

In his online YouTube video, he expressed admiration of past European leaders who waged war against Islam and Muslims, naming Charles Martel, Richard the Lionheart, El Cid, Vlad the Impaler, Jacques de Molay, Tsar Nicholas and John III Sobieski. A recently created social media website bearing Breivik’s name and picture but of unknown authorship refers to him as an admirer of Winston Churchill and Max Manus, and also of Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whose political party, the Party for Freedom, he describes as “the only true party of conservatives”. The music that is played in the video comes off the soundtrack to the video game Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures.

Possible accomplices

Several witnesses at the youth camp expressed doubt that there was only one shooter. The police have received descriptions of a second gunman, and are currently working to confirm or deny the accuracy of this new information. Due to the uncertainty surrounding these witness descriptions and the chaotic nature of the events, the police have, as a matter of precaution, yet to make an official comment on the matter. Breivik has claimed that he acted alone and that he had no accomplices, according to some reports. However, according to other reports, Breivik claimed to have accomplices. On 24 July, six more people were arrested in Oslo in connection with the attacks and then released as they were said to be no longer suspected of involvement.


Flower march in Sentrum, Oslo, on 25 July 2011 in the aftermath of the attacks. An estimated 200,000 attended the flower march
Flower march in Sentrum, Oslo, on 25 July 2011 in the aftermath of the attacks. An estimated 200,000 attended the flower march


King Harald V sent his condolences to the victims and their families, and urged unity.

At a press conference the morning after the attacks, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Justice Minister Knut Storberget addressed the country. Stoltenberg called the attack a “national tragedy” and the worst atrocity in Norway since World War II. Stoltenberg further vowed that the attack would not hurt Norwegian democracy, and said the proper answer to the violence was “more democracy, more openness, but not naivety”. In his speech at the memorial service on 24 July 2011, he opined what would be a proper reaction: “No one has said it better than the AUF girl who was interviewed by CNN: ‘If one man can show so much hate, think how much love we could show, standing together.'”

The leader of the Workers’ Youth League, Eskil Pedersen, vowed to “return to Utøya” and urged Norway to continue its tradition of openness and tolerance.

Leaders of Norwegian political parties expressed grief and sent condolences in public statements.

On 1 August 2011, Norway’s parliament, nominally in recess for the summer, reconvened for an extraordinary session to honour the victims of the attack. In a departure from parliamentary procedure, both King Harald V and Crown Prince Haakon were present. The president of Norway’s Parliament, Dag Terje Andersen read out loud the names of all 77 victims. The session was open to the public, but due to limited seating, priority was given to relatives of the deceased.

The seven political parties in the parliament agreed to postpone the electoral campaign for local elections, held in September, until mid-August. School debates were cancelled, though the school elections were not.

Initially, Magnus Ranstorp and other terror experts suspected that foreigners were behind the attacks. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, there were wide reports in mainstream media of non-ethnic Norwegians, especially Muslim Norwegians, being subjected to harassment and violence. A report about these racist attacks was published on behalf of the 22. July Commission in 2012.

On 13 August 2012 Norway’s prime minister received the Gjørv Report, which concludes that Anders Breivik could have been stopped from carrying out the Utøya massacre. (The report had been ordered by parliament, in August 2011.)


The United Nations, the European Union, NATO, and governments around the world expressed their condemnation of the attacks, condolences, and solidarity with Norway. However, there have also been reports of European politicians giving support to the killings or excusing them as a result of multi-culturalism. Interviewed on a popular radio show, the Italian MEP Francesco Speroni, a leading member of the Lega Nord, the junior partner in Berlusconi’s conservative coalition, said: “Breivik’s ideas are in defence of western civilisation.” Similar views were voiced by Italian MEP Mario Borghezio. Werner Koenigshofer, a member of the National Council of Austria, was expelled from the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria after equating the massacre with the death of millions of fetuses through abortion.

On 25 July 2011, at noon (CEST), each of the Nordic countries held a minute of silence to dignify the victims of the two attacks. Norway’s minute of silence stretched to five minutes. In Oslo, a city of approximately 600,000 inhabitants, an estimated 200,000 people attended a “flower march”.

The Norwegian media reported criticism against Fox News and its commentator Glenn Beck for their coverage of the attacks. Beck’s comparison of the AUF to the Hitler Youth led Frank Aarebrot, a Norwegian professor with political sympathies to the Norwegian Labour Party, to call Beck a “fascist” and “swine”.

Memorial ceremonies

A number of memorial ceremonies took place following the attacks. On 25 July 2011, around 200,000 people took part in a “rose march” at Rådhusplassen in Oslo. The NRK memorial concert, titled “Mitt lille land” (“My Little Country”) and named for the song “Mitt lille land” which “came to symbolize the sorrow many people went through”, took place in Oslo Cathedral on 30 July 2011. A national memorial ceremony took place on 21 August 2011. In September 2011, the Norwegian People’s Aid and Sony Music released the memorial album Mitt lille land.

Legal proceedings

The police initially kept the choice of counsel secret after request from the attorney. Attorney Geir Lippestad elected to act on behalf of Breivik’s defense, confirming to the Dagbladet newspaper that Breivik had requested him personally. Lippestad said “I thought carefully about it. Everyone is entitled to a lawyer, even in a case like this, and I decided to accept.”

Breivik salute in court. Breiviks attorney Geir Lippestad (left)
Breivik salute in court. Breiviks attorney Geir Lippestad (left)

On 25 July 2011, Anders Behring Breivik was arraigned in Oslo District Court. The police feared that Breivik would use the hearing as an opportunity to communicate with possible accomplices. Because of this, the arraignment was held completely closed to the media and all other spectators. Instead, judge Kim Heger held a press conference shortly afterwards where he read the court’s decision. The practice of completely closed court hearings is extremely rare in the Norwegian justice system.

It was long debated which criminal charges to use in this unique situation. Many police attorneys wanted high treason or crimes against humanity. The prosecution ended up indicting Breivik on terrorism charges. Breivik admitted to being the gunman at Utøya and the perpetrator behind the Oslo bomb, also admitting all the other actual events. Nonetheless he pleaded not guilty, stating “I do not recognise this justice system”. District Attorney Christian Hatlo asked that Breivik be detained for eight weeks without mail or visitation. The judge ruled in favor of the prosecution, stating “the accused is an imminent danger to society and must be confined for the safety of himself and others. It is highly probable that he is guilty of the alleged crimes and imprisonment is necessary to prevent destruction of evidence”. In accordance with the prosecution’s wishes, Breivik was sentenced to eight weeks detention without mail or visitation, four of which in complete isolation. To be renewed no later than 19 September 2011. He was immediately transferred to Ila Landsfengsel, a maximum security prison.

Breivik cries in court
Breivik cries in court

On 13 August 2011 Breivik was taken to Utøya by police to re-create his actions on the day of the massacre. Wearing a bulletproof vest and a leash, Breivik was seen to mimic a shooting action. Neither the media nor the public was alerted to the operation. The police explained that the surprise walk-through was necessary because Breivik will be charged and tried for all 77 murders individually. The police deemed it less offensive to the survivors to do it now rather than during the trial. Despite the many police boats and helicopters, none of the civilians who had come to lay down flowers on the shore this day perceived what was happening just a few hundred metres across the lake from them for a total of eight hours. On the evening of 14 August the police held a press conference about the reconstruction. It was reported that Breivik was not unmoved by his return to Utøya, but that he showed no remorse. Inspector Pål Fredrik Hjort Kraby described Breivik’s behavior and indifference on the island as “unreal”, as he had over the course of eight hours willingly showed the police exactly how he had carried out all of the 69 murders.

The trial began on 16 April 2012 and lasted until 19 June 2012. 170 media organisations were accredited to cover the proceedings. Anders Behring Breivik acknowledged that he had committed the offences but pleaded not guilty as he believed the killing was needed. The main issue for Breivik was that he was not to be deemed “insane” or “psychotic”, because that would lose the meaning of his message.

On 24 August, Breivik was found to be sane by the panel of five judges. He was sentenced to preventative detention (forvaring), a sentence of 21 years in prison which can be repeatedly extended by 5 years as long as he is considered a threat to society. This is the maximum sentence allowed by Norwegian law, and it is the only way to allow for life imprisonment.



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