Norway killer hunted for top politicians
Friday 18 November 2011
The right-wing extremist who killed dozens of teenagers in Norway told police he had originally planned to capture and execute leading Labour Party politicians whom he viewed as traitors, a newspaper reported today.
The Norwegian VG tabloid, citing leaked police interrogations with Anders Behring Breivik, reported that Breivik's aim was to kill former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere or Eskil Pedersen, head of the Labour Party's youth wing.
But only Pedersen was present when the 32-year-old Norwegian arrived July 22 at the Labour Party youth camp after setting off a bomb that killed eight people in Oslo. Pedersen survived Breivik's attack but 69 other people were killed at the Utoya Island camp.
The newspaper's account paints a picture of a determined killer who planned the attacks in minute detail and who became even more determined to carry out the massacre at Utoya once he realized that the Oslo building he had bombed didn't collapse.
VG said Breivik's initial plan was to take one of the leading Labor Party officials hostage at Utoya and read a death sentence before carrying out an execution. He had prepared a speech for that, which he later recited to investigators, it said.
Gahr Stoere had visited Utoya the day before, while Brundtland had left the island just hours before Breivik arrived.
VG executives declined to say how the paper obtained the interrogation details. Police, however, released a statement calling it "unfortunate" that classified documents from the investigation had leaked. It said the documents had been made available to police, defense lawyers and lawyers representing survivors and the families of victims.
Police attorney Pal-Fredrik Hjort Kraby added "this is not information that to a large extent will harm the investigation" and said police would investigate the leak.
Spokesmen for Gahr Stoere and Pedersen declined to comment on the report. Brundtland's spokesman didn't immediately return calls.
Breivik, who surrendered to a SWAT team on Utoya, has confessed to the attacks, but pleaded not guilty to terror charges, claiming he was in a state of war and therefore not criminally liable. At his first public court hearing Monday, he declared himself a military commander of a Norwegian resistance movement before the judge cut him off.
In a 1,500-page document posted online before the attacks, Breivik laid out a blueprint for a nationalist revolution to overthrow governments he claims have let their countries down by allowing Muslim immigrants to settle in Europe.
Investigators believe Breivik plotted and carried out the attacks on his own and haven't found any evidence supporting his claims of belonging to a militant network.
VG said Breivik sent his online manifesto to 1,003 recipients from his mother's apartment before driving a van packed with a 950-kilogram (2,100-pound) fertilizer bomb to downtown Oslo. He parked the van outside the main government building, ignited the fuse with a lighter, locked the car and walked away.
"I was very nervous at the moment when I lit up, and thought that there is no way back and that I possibly would die in 2 seconds," VG quoted Breivik telling police.
He went to a getaway car a few blocks away in which he had at least 500 rounds of ammunition, a flak jacket, plastic handcuffs and two devices for quick loading of gun clips.
Breivik didn't hear the bomb go off but heard about it later on the radio, according to VG's account. Disappointed that the building hadn't collapsed, he began the second part of his plan, driving under the speed limit toward Utoya, 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Oslo.
At the lake dock, he told the guard to summon the ferry, saying he was a police officer who needed to brief Labor members about the Oslo bomb. Hundreds of people including teenagers from across Norway had gathered on the island for an annual summer retreat.
As he arrived, Breivik briefly thought about calling the attack off, VG said. Instead he opened fire on guards on the shore, but spared the boat crew because he didn't know if they were linked to the Labour Party.
Methodically he moved around the island, luring youths out of their hiding places before gunning them down.
Breivik told investigators he expected police to arrive some 15 minutes after he started shooting. It took about 80 minutes before a SWAT team arrived, according to a police timeline.
VG said Breivik needed several attempts to get through on the phone to police. He stated his name and said he was a resistance fighter in an anti-communist movement before he got disconnected.
He decided it would be cowardly to kill himself and turned himself over to the SWAT team.
If found guilty of terrorism, Breivik could be sentenced to 21 years in prison. An alternative custody arrangement — if he is still considered a danger to the public — could keep him behind bars indefinitely. The trial begins April 16.
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