Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 23, 2011

Norwegian terrorist: Blond, nationalist, libertarian, Christian, farmer

Filed under: Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on July 23, 2011

Anders Behring Breivik, age 32, has been arrested for the Oslo bombing that killed seven and the Utoya shooting of at least 84.  The BBC has a more complete profile. Breivik evidently admits to his role without remorse (see early Friday morning post).

It is being reported that Breivik had over an hour before police arrived to shoot the mostly teenagers attending the Labour Party summer camp on the island of Utoya.  The current Prime Minister of Norway is a member of the Labour Party, generally seen as part of the mainstream of the European social democratic left.

The Norwegian newspaper VG provided the following report (I have edited the computer-generated translation):

Anders Behring Breivik is well read with strong opinions about Norwegian politics. He promotes very conservative opinions, which he also called nationalist. He expressed strong opposition to multiculturalism – that cultural differences can live together in a community.

Breivik has had many posts on the site Document.no, an Islam-critical site that publishes news and commentary. In one of the posts he states that today’ politics no longer revolves around socialism versus capitalism, but that the fight is between nationalism and internationalism. He expressed clear support for the nationalist mindset. Anders Behring Breivik has also commented on Swedish news articles, where he makes it clear that he believes the media have failed by not being Islam-critical.

Six days ago he put out his first and only message on the social networking site Twitter, where he laid out a famous quote by British philosopher and libertarian John Stuart Mill,“One person with a belief is equal to ninety-nine who have only interests.”

On Facebook  Breivik claims to be the director of his own company Geofarm. (Note by Palin: The farm allowed him to purchase at least three tons of fertilizer earlier this year.  This was apparently used in the bomb(s).) He also claims he has an education in finance and religion, but does not disclose the universities attended… The only school he gives is Oslo Handel.

The 32-year-old is among other things, registered as a member of Oslo gun club and the Masonic Lodge. Among other interests he expresses his admiration for Winston Churcill, classical music and Max Manus (a member of the Norwegian resistance in WWII). The 32-year-old man has been active in computer games and has been engaged in the online game World of Warcraft.

Main stream media are now giving this detailed attention.  Unless something emerges with significant strategy or policy implications, I doubt further updates by HLSwatch are necessary.

The local reporting that I have found most helpful is from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporations (www.nrk.no) and the VG newspaper out of Olso (www.vg.no).


A confession and comment: I was in a fairly important meeting when the news from Oslo made my smartphone vibrate non-stop.  I had plenty of time — and space, an ocean away — to be professionally objective.

Even as I attempted to complete my immediate agenda, I considered a wide range of possibilities: natural gas, volcanic venting, several terrorist options including AQ, Taliban,  and neo-Nazis.   The December 2010 Stockholm attack was at the forefront of my mind… and I was troubled by my inability to remember many salient details.  I thought about the Stieg Larsson series and his wide array of bad actors.  I did not think of Gaddafi until I read speculation by others.

It was nearly two hours before I had a sufficient break in meetings to access a full-size computer… and to post to HLSWatch.  While reading (bad) translations of the local Norwegian reports one of the first blurbs on a shooting at Utoya appeared.  My immediate reaction was how in the aftermath of something like the Oslo bombing every other event is blown out of proportion.  I assumed there had been a hunting accident or something similar.  Even later when I understood Utoya was a summer camp for youth associated with the ruling Labour party I assumed, at worst, an awful coincidence.

It is now clear the Oslo bombing was both a significant attack and a dramatic distraction.  The rising generation of the ruling party was, perhaps, Breivik’s principal target.  The gunman — dressed as a  paramilitary — used the bombing as justification to access the island.    Because police were so consumed by the bomb’s consequence their response to the Utoya shootings was significantly delayed and the massacre continued unchallenged for over an hour.

It is a tragic reminder that terrorists (of every stripe) are keen to use our predictable responses as key elements in their planning.  Both strategically and tactically, they regularly depend on our own choices to amplify the effectiveness of their attack.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

July 23, 2011 @ 6:17 am

An interesting post. So perhaps new justification for suppression and civil liberties will be found by some in this instance although I would argue for failure of the Norwegian mental health care system.

Modern society is complex and support systems are failing many. Question–What is Homeland Security in that context? Drought, heat and starvation may be one future not just in the Sahel but elsewhere. So how resilient is the earth in the face of the huge numbers of people on it?

No answers here but plenty of questions!

And the mental stability of one of the budget negotiators now seems open to question IMO. Great timing for our NATION.

Comment by Bruce Majors

July 24, 2011 @ 5:38 am

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that is a deductive system, whose fundamental axiom is that every individual owns his or her own life, time, body, products and homesteads. Therefore no one can violate their rights to those things (morally), including organized groups, including organized groups that claim or have a monopoly on force in a territory and call themselves states.

Murdering innocent people is the antithesis of libertarianism since it involves stealing and individual’s life from him. Someone’s committing acts of violence against private individuals, like the 80 some teens this guy killed, “because” of some greivance with a government, makes them criminally insane, not a libertarian.

Your smear on libertarians in your title makes you mendacious, tendentious, careless, and makes your purported devotion to “rigorous analysis” a lie.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

July 24, 2011 @ 6:01 am

Mr. Major, I agree that Breivik’s actions are entirely contrary to any authentic libertarianism. He nonetheless claimed to be a libertarian. He also claimed to be a Christian. I do not recognize anything Christian in his actions. I claim to be a libertarian and a Christian and a nationalist. I do not want to claim Breivik. But given the widespread tendency to conflate Islam with terrorism, it is perhaps worthwhile to highlight what Breivik claimed.

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 24, 2011 @ 6:14 am

So Phil with almost a decade completed since 9/11/01 what is the best open source analysis of Islam’s repudiation of that act and terrorism–defined by me as killing of innocents–since that date?

And of course what nation states have specifically stated that their foreign policy does not include attacks on innocents? I know of none but perhaps just ignorant.

I would argue that the 21st Century acceptance of violence against innocents indicates that possibly the 21st Century will out run the 20th in the violence committed against innocents.

How many churchmen and women of any faith have so far denounced USA drone attacks? I know of none. So the ends do justify the means?

Comment by Little Tolerance and Respect for Neighbor....

July 24, 2011 @ 6:22 am

Whatever one gives as their preferred designation whether Libertarians, Democracts, Socialists, Republicans, Independents or “whatever” as the youngsters so frequently reply – the fact remains that We are failing because of humanity’s dysfunctional and abusive manners towards others w/little tolerance for anyone other for their self-indulgent way, their self-serving agenda (see: US Congress) which is so clearly portrayed by so many today who care little other than for themselves which does not bode well for mankind.

Unfortunately, mankind has not changed even with today’s wonderful scientific and technological advancements and the lack of resilience and lack of tolerance has been and will be the demise once again for humanity and many good people who are subjected to further slavery to pverty and oppression again by the “elitist” and mankind as we will shortly see real War break out with shock and awe which will again turn the pages of history and so many innocents will again be compromised. What a pity.

History and this lust to control Jerusalem, the tutonic plates of Christianity led by the ever powerful and political Vatican and Islam rubbing each other the wrong way and verse quite clear that no one will control Jerusalem other than our Creator who has made it quite clear who will sit on the throne…

Unfortunately, this incident of killing innocents in Norway in cold blood without respect for Life which took place in Norway and takes places in Palestine, Israel and so many other places s often will increase as Christianity and Islamic fundamentalists take up sword against each other as they have throughout histry and anyone and everyone at DHS must be required to take a course on just how terrible this religious strife with participants having no compassion whatsoever towards another much like We saw the Germans march women and children into gas stoves and kill millions of innocent children of our Creator.

No one has tne Right to judge such other than God, our Creator yet, the fact remains, We as this proud Republic, these United State of America s weakened by the fact that we have been paralyzed by our own decision-making will pay a heavy price for our weakness, our inability to get our house in order, to repent and to hoist our flag high, not our flag as shown on my front porch flying upside down depicting the distress We are facing because We as the greatest nation, based on Judeo-Christian values, have failed ourselves in so many ways….and no longer do the oppressed in far distant shore see the beacon of hope America offered in its willing strength to understand itself and willingly lend a hand to others….

The arduous road ahead for so many requires much prayer. Let us pray for the salavation of mankind.

God Bless us all!

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich, MA 02645

Comment by Philip J. Palin

July 24, 2011 @ 7:09 am

Bill, In terms of Islamic condemnation, here are two, there are many more:

Tahir-ul-Qadri fatwa on terrorism

CAIR Fatwa against Terrorism

In terms of denunciation of US drone attacks:

The American church woman Mary Ellen O’Connell denounces the use of drones in the Catholic news weekly America.

As early as 2009 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church called for discontinuation of the use of “pilotless drones.” Similar resolutions have been adopted by other churches and interdenominational organizations. Recently some church people have begun picketing factories involved in the production of drones.

I am, perhaps, reading too much into the lines between your comments, but where I probably agree with you is that somehow actions and voices for peace are muted, even as violent acts and justifications for war are amplified. In this I am not meaning to over-simplify what I perceive to be a treacherously difficult set of related issues. But we will not fully engage the complications without a better understanding of all our options.

Comment by Bruce Majors

July 24, 2011 @ 7:32 am

Here is a better discussion of Breivik’s beliefs and motivations by Kevin MacDonald at The Occidental Observor


(Note by Sean Gabb, UK Libertarian Alliance: I have copied this in full from The Occidental Observer site because Professor MacDonald’s posting seems to be the longest and most thorough analysis of what drove Mr Breivik to commit his crimes. He has actually read the killer’s book, and this lets him say a great deal more than the mainstream media, which appears to take its entire coverage from statements by the Norwegian police.)

Comment by Anti-terrorist

July 24, 2011 @ 8:41 am

I don’t see anything in the article where he says he’s a libertarian. He calls himself a nationalist. The article says That’s hardly a libertarian perspective. The only reference to “libertarian” is that he quoted a non-ideological statement from a philosopher who was a libertarian before he became a social democrat. You should change your headline.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

July 24, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

Following Sunday’s mass of sorrow and hope at the Oslo Cathedral, Thorvald Stoltenberg a long-time Norwegian diplomat (and father of the current prime minister) was interviewed by NRK and in regard to the admitted mass-murderer commented:

What is scary is that the more knowledge you have, the more intelligent you are, the more you can convince yourself that what you are doing is right. We must rid ourselves of the notion of revenge.

Stoltenberg has shaken hands with more bloody hands than most of us. He has been directly involved with a wide range of peace-making attempts including the Israel-Palestine conflict and the implosion of the former Yugoslavia. He has known several knowledgeable, intelligent mass-murderers.

Most of the issues on which I engage are beyond black-and-white or easily discernible right-and-wrong. Yet so many of those I meet in my work seem absolutely confident of their answers. Initially I perceived this must be a rhetorical device, designed to advance a kind of legalistic conflict of arguments from which some more nuanced understanding of truth would emerge. (In a few cases this is the intent.) But in too many cases I have learned that, no… in fact these men and women are absolutely convinced that their judgment is right and any other is wrong.

I admire — sometimes envy — their self-confidence. But doubt, even self-doubt, has its virtues.

Comment by John Fast

July 25, 2011 @ 4:05 am

The killer posted something by John Stuart Mill on his blog before he committed his crime. Mill was a liberal or “progressive”; this mass murderer is presumably a deranged “progressive” as well, like Jared Lee Loughner.

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 25, 2011 @ 6:03 am

Thanks Phil for the links! To me unfortunately they don’t resonate as being widely disseminated or reflective of any ground swell of approval by many.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

July 25, 2011 @ 7:46 am

Bill and Mr. Fast: What I perceive — hope — we are each saying is that blaming an otherwise uninvolved individual or group for the actions of another or others is unhelpful. The tribal labels we tend to use can quickly lose their utility.

Mr. Breivik was influenced by John Stuart Mill, Winston Churchill, and others. They are not to blame for his slaughter of innocents. Mr. Breivik was for several years a member of the rightist Norway Progress Party. The party — no matter how odious its views — ought not be blamed for the massacre. Many millions hold vulgar anti-immigrant attitudes. Even if a few have now been inspired by Mr. Breivik, if they were not directly involved in planning or executing the attacks they ought not be blamed.

But to avoid blaming does not mean we mistake words and beliefs as harmless. In what we say (or write), how we say it, and the attitude with which we approach one another each of us has influence and share some portion of responsibility, even when we stop short of action.

Just in case you happened to miss it, the most important words to have emerged from this horrific event will not be found in the tedious 1500 pages Mr. Breivik has given us, but in the words of a young Utoya survivor: “If one man can see so much hate, think how much love we can all see together.”

At Sunday’s memorial service the Prime Minister quoted these words. His other words are worth hearing. The YouTube video will give you English subtitles if you click on the “cc”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oPbd9UvZuY

Words are not acts. But with words we can — for better and worse — shape the world of action.

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 26, 2011 @ 8:19 am

I assume the Islamic population of Norway is quite small and will be of interest as to how this guy picked his targets and thought killing them would deter radical Islam from assaults on the WEST! After all we do call it Western Civilization not Christendom.

Comment by Glenn Donovan

July 26, 2011 @ 8:28 am

Of course, Mill also had very anti-capitalist views, and was a big supporter of military interventionism. As well, he predates any formal libertarian movement. As well, Breivik himself identifies himself as a cultural conservative and working for cultural conservative causes. Nothing could be farther from libertarian principles or politics. That he uses the word libertarian as a throwaway line makes him no different from say, Glenn Beck.

It’s surprising that the author would be this lazy intellectually given the particularly large effort Breivik has made to ensure his political philosophy is clear. One has to ignore most of what Breivik says to call him a libertarian, a fact which reflects very poorly on this author.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

July 26, 2011 @ 8:35 am

Bill, I have not mastered Breivik’s manifesto — it is not my sort of prose — but while the worldview is surreal it is rather clear as to motivation. He perceives that “cultural Marxists” — read social democrats, multiculturalists, and such — are traitors to the values of Western Civilization. The Labour Party youth leadership gathered at Utoya and the government officials in Oslo present, for Breivik, a kind of conspiratorial fifth column that must be effectively eliminated if Norway and the West in general is to reclaim the cultural confidence needed to deter Islam. Moreoever, for Breivik the threat is not limited to “radical” Islam. For him the Islamic “colonization” of Europe and the disproportionate birth rates of Muslims and non-Muslims is the existential threat. For Breivik, me passing along this meme is a signal of success. He seems to see himself as a kind of “Butterfly in the Amazon” whose action last Friday will, over the next sixty years, inspire a whole host of increasingly dramatic steps to reclaim what he understands to be the values of Western Civilization.

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 26, 2011 @ 9:50 am

Thanks Phil! Wondering how Norwegian educational system teaches the history of Western civilization and whether it identifies as it correctly should Islam as a Western religion.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

July 26, 2011 @ 9:59 am

Mr. Donovan, I’m not sure if my problem is intellectual laziness or rhetorical incompetence or perhaps an eccentric — even mistaken — take on reality. But because libertarianism is the best description of my own politics; and because nationalism is a significant element in how I engage the world; and because I aspire to be a Christian… for all these reasons I have found Mr. Breivik’s claim that he was acting on behalf of these values — my values — to be cause for considerable self-examination and reflection.

It was not my intention to throw aspersions on libertarianism, nationalism, or Christianity — or even being blond and a farmer. To the extent I was being intentional (though I was almost certainly being more exploratory than intentional) it was a matter of exposing how Mr. Breivik’s claims are entirely contrary to any reasonable understanding of the values referenced. He also claims to be tolerant.

I am embarrassed by his claims. I also understand that you and other libertarians — myself included — want to clarify that Breivik’s actions and words are entirely anti-libertarian.

I will confess, however, that over the last few days I have pondered when my libertarian principles have justified me remaining silent when others express monstrous opinions. I have considered how my nationalism has justified deadly and ongoing collateral damage. I have wondered how my Christianity may have justified a prideful righteousness in my consideration of others.

In other words, I have looked into the mirror and not been entirely happy with what I have perceived. But I was looking at me, not at you.

Comment by Robert Bates

July 27, 2011 @ 11:21 am

As a Libertarian and someone who believes in the absolute right of individuals to non-violently challenge the views of others in society (simple freedom of speech, religion, and thought as enshrined in the United States Constitution and the rights of man recognized during the French Revolution), I think it is very dangerous for anyone to suggest that having the ability, the right, and I would argue the duty to challenge the polticial and cultural establishment of your country is somehow subversive, dangerous, and naturally leads to violence. Freedom of speech and thought means you have to tolerate those with whom you disagree vehemently at times. But to repress the free exchange of ideas by suggesting that “hate speech” or “intolerant speech” be suppressed is an invitation to cultural and political destruction of individual rights in the name of the good of the perceived whole. This man was obviously mentally ill as most lone gunmen and killers of this type are in history. Those people have existed in every society and repressing the human individual soul as to non-violent speech, thoughts, and religous beliefs would be the worst type of response to this tragedy and only invites the rise of dictatorships (left or right) to oppress us all in the name of security.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

July 28, 2011 @ 7:14 am

Mr. Bates, We agree regarding the absolute right of individuals to non-violently challenge the views of others. I join you in opposition to any exercise of state power to constrain this right.

At the same time, I am very much in favor of self-restraint, listening carefully — even sympathetically — to others with whom I disagree, and cultivating a discipline of self-criticism.

It seems to me the libertarian understanding of human potential is ambitious and optimistic. To preserve my freedom and dignity, I honor and defend the freedom and dignity of others… especially those I perceive as profoundly other. Certainly I should challenge and welcome the challenge of others. But we ought not challenge the fundamental humanity of one another.

It can be paradoxical, but it seems to me that with rare exceptions, the most effective way to challenge is to do so with a presumption of good intention.

In Norway — so far — the response to these horrible attacks has been consistent with libertarian principles. Yesterday the Prime Minister went out of his way to say, “We have to be very clear to distinguish between extreme views, opinions that are completely legal, legitimate to have. What is not legitimate is to try to implement those extreme views by using violence.”

Comment by Mrs. Love

August 10, 2011 @ 7:55 pm

We can’t say exactly what his political view is but I think we can all agree that he is a monster. And to Philips response above, you are correct. Agree with you 100%

Comment by Mia

March 9, 2015 @ 8:06 am

It looks like there is quite a few people who would rather live with Anders Behring Breivik’s delusions than Mohammed’s delusions.

Comment by Luca

March 12, 2015 @ 7:32 am

Also your website claims you think about things Have you asked the question Why would someone kill that many people and for what reasons? Not outlined in his manifesto That is a complete red herring. He could not have planned and executed this alone Its practically impossible. Its also the case that he was on steroids and a variety of other drugs whilst he went on his killing spree. Frankly the whole thing doesnt add up.

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Ordinary boys, extraordinary rage

April 16, 2015 @ 12:11 am

[…] Brevik (second from the left), was in his early thirties when he bombed government offices in Oslo.  While McVeigh’s murder of children in a day care center was unintended “collateral […]

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