Anders Behring Breivik is a Norwegian right-wing extremist who on July 22, 2011, detonated a bomb in Oslo’s government center and immediately afterwards carried out a mass shooting at a summer camp for children. The two attacks killed 77 people. He is currently serving a 21-year sentence in near-isolation in a prison near the city of Skien.Sean Rayment, “Modest boy who became a mass murderer,” Sydney Morning Herald, July 25, 2011, https://www.smh.com.au/national/modest-boy-who-became-a-mass-murderer-20110724-1hvh0.html.
Breivik had completed compulsory national service in his late teens, where after receiving military training, became skilled in shooting.Sean Rayment, “Modest boy who became a mass murderer,” Sydney Morning Herald, July 25, 2011, https://www.smh.com.au/national/modest-boy-who-became-a-mass-murderer-20110724-1hvh0.html. By 20, Breivik became a member of Fremskrittspartiet (The Progress Party), Norway’s largest far-right group, and became chairman of his local party. His association with the party ceased in 2007 after he stopped paying membership fees.Sean Rayment, “Modest boy who became a mass murderer,” Sydney Morning Herald, July 25, 2011, https://www.smh.com.au/national/modest-boy-who-became-a-mass-murderer-20110724-1hvh0.html.
Before 2011, Breivik was unknown to law enforcement as he only had minor traffic violations from over a decade prior under his name. According to those who knew him, these brushes with the law coincided with the time he began espousing far-right politics. The object of his hatred were Muslims, whom he believed were destroying Norwegian society.Sean Rayment, “Modest boy who became a mass murderer,” Sydney Morning Herald, July 25, 2011, https://www.smh.com.au/national/modest-boy-who-became-a-mass-murderer-20110724-1hvh0.html.
Breivik was trained in management but failed as a businessman. His failed business attempts included trying to enter the conflict diamond industry and selling fake degrees online. Often staying with his mother from 2006 until 2011, Breivik spent his days playing video games day and night, specifically the war simulation game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.Helen Pidd, “Anders Breivik 'trained' for shooting attacks by playing Call of Duty,” Guardian, April 19, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/apr/19/anders-breivik-call-of-duty. However, at the time of his arrest, he was operating Breivik Geofarm in eastern Norway. The agricultural business provided Breivik access to nitrogen-based fertilizer, which is one of the main ingredients in a “fertilizer bomb.”Rachel Revesz, “Anders Breivik: Norwegian far-right mass murderer changes his name to Fjotolf Hansen,” Independent, June 11, 2017, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/anders-breivik-norway-terrorist-mass-murderer-changes-name-fjotolf-hansen-a7784186.html. Additionally, Breivik had been a member at an Oslo shooting club, and had traveled throughout Europe to buy guns and ammunition, and other equipment.Helen Pidd, “Anders Behring Breivik spent years training and plotting for massacre,” Guardian, August 24, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/aug/24/anders-behring-breivik-profile-oslo.
On July 22, 2011, Breivik parked a van outside Oslo’s parliament and detonated a bomb. The attack killed eight people and injured 15. He then put on a police uniform to sail to the island of Utøya which was hosting the annual summer camp of the ruling Labor Party’s youth wing. Within the span of an hour and a half, Breivik shot scores of people, most of which were teenagers. The attack killed 69 people.Elisa Mala and J. David Goodman, “At Least 80 Dead in Norway Shooting,” New York Times, July 22, 2011, https://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/23/world/europe/23oslo.html.
After the shooting, police apprehended Breivik and later recovered explosives on the island. Following an investigation of Breivik, Norwegian officials conclude Breivik had “some political traits directed toward the right, and anti-Muslim views.”Elisa Mala and J. David Goodman, “At Least 80 Dead in Norway Shooting,” New York Times, July 22, 2011, https://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/23/world/europe/23oslo.html. Before carrying out the attacks, Breivik disseminated a 1,500-page manifesto signed “Andrew Berwick.” Entitled, “2083 – A European Declaration of Independence,” Breivik’s manifesto consisted of advice to fellow far-right terrorists regarding physical training, weapons, and bomb-making. In the manifesto, he also spoke of the Knights Templar (KT), a network of anti-Islamists he claimed to have co-founded in London in 2012.Helen Pidd, “Anders Behring Breivik attacks inspired by Serbian nationalists, court hears,” Guardian, April 18, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/apr/18/anders-behring-breivik-serb-nationalists. Aside from these sections written by Breivik, the majority of the manifesto is a compilation of texts from American far-right websites.Dr. Arun Kundnani, “The Anti-Islamist: Anders Behring Breivik’s Manifesto,” International Center for Counter Terrorism, April 23, 2012, https://icct.nl/publication/the-anti-islamist-anders-behring-breiviks-manifesto/.
Breivik’s trial began on April 16, 2012, where he “acknowledged” his acts, but did not show any remorse, as he believed he was acting in “self-defense” to protect Norway from Islamic immigration.Mark Lewis and Alan Cowell, “Norwegian Man Claims Self-Defense in Killings,” New York Times, April 16, 2012, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/17/world/europe/trial-of-anders-behring-breivik-opens-in-norway.html. While standing trial, Breivik continued to openly express his anti-Muslim, anti-multicultural views.Mark Lewis and Sarah Lyall, “Norway Mass Killer Gets the Maximum: 21 Years,” August 24, 2012, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/25/world/europe/anders-behring-breivik-murder-trial.html. Breivik claims that his only regret was that he “did not go further.”“Anders Breivik pleads not guilty at Norway murder trial,” BBC News, April 16, 2012, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-17724535. Additionally, Breivik claimed that his attacks were inspired by “Serb nationalists” rather than Nazi right-wing extremism. Prosecutors also suggested throughout the trial that Breivik invented the KT which was corroborated when any individuals Breivik claimed to be associated with KT denied association or knowledge of the group.Mark Lewis and David Jolly, “Prosecutors Press Norwegian on Extremist Affiliations,” New York Times, April 18, 2012, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/world/europe/norway-anders-behring-breivik-trial-extremist-affiliations.html. Breivik also told the court he was inspired by al-Qaeda in planning his attacks, specifically their “media effect, what they have done wrong, what they have done right ... what it takes.” He also claimed to have been inspired by the Oklahoma City and World Trade Center bombings.“Norway's Breivik gives chilling account of gun massacre,” CNN, April 20, 2012, https://www.cnn.com/2012/04/20/world/europe/norway-breivik-trial/index.html.
On August 24, 2012, a Norwegian court convicted Breivik under charges of terrorism and premeditated murder. The court sentenced Breivik to 21 years in prison—the maximum sentence under Norwegian law. The sentence can be extended indefinitely.“Norway terror attacks: Anders Breivik changes his name to Fjotolf Hansen,” BBC News, June 10, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-40233702. According to the judges who presided over the court, it is unlikely Breivik will ever be released from prison given his demeanor, testimony, and declaration that he would have liked to kill more people.Mark Lewis and Sarah Lyall, “Norway Mass Killer Gets the Maximum: 21 Years,” August 24, 2012, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/25/world/europe/anders-behring-breivik-murder-trial.html.
In 2015, Breivik enrolled at the University of Oslo as an off-campus student to undertake an undergraduate degree in political science. On June 10, 2017, Breivik changed his name to Fjotolf Hansen, however, he did not disclose the meaning behind the name change.“Norway terror attacks: Anders Breivik changes his name to Fjotolf Hansen,” BBC News, June 10, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-40233702.