Anders Behring Breivik
Written by Homer
Throughout the history of mankind, admirable deeds and tragic sacrifices have been made in the name of patriotism. We know there’s a reason why Russians call their country Mother Russia, why the 4th of July is a national holiday in the United States, and why Inter Milan and AS Roma soccer fans forget their differences for ninety minutes every time Italy is playing. For some, patriotism is a very clearly defined concept, and is symbolized by a uniform. For others, it’s more than that, and the definition stretches beyond just defending your land. But we all know homesickness when we feel it, and that sense of home, of belonging, is at the root of all patriotism, and the desire to defend what we hold close to our hearts.
However, for as long as man has existed, there have also been individuals more than willing to use patriotism as nothing more than an excuse to commit heinous acts of evil. Persons who justify their actions by waving a flag, thinking this will be enough to distract everyone from the truth – that they have just wiped their diarrhea-smeared ass with that flag, and now are trying to fling their shit all over everybody else. Anders Behring Breivik belongs to this category.
On the 22nd of July 2011 at 15:25 a bomb went off in central Oslo, the capital city of Norway, right outside the building complex housing, among others, the Norwegian Ministry of Justice. Just minutes before, Breivik had parked the van containing the bomb as close to the Ministry as he dared, and had made his way to the getaway car he’d left in the vicinity earlier. Eight people were killed in the blast, and many more were injured. But it could have been a lot worse.
July is one of the most popular vacation-months, and because of this the ministry was not operating at its full capacity. In addition, office hours in the summer months tend to favor the “early to work, early to leave” principle, which meant that many people had already left for home. At the time there was some speculation regarding the timing, and one theory was that Breivik had been planning for a bigger death-toll, but had apparently been stuck in traffic and thus delayed, ensuring that his bomb didn’t quite get the impact he was hoping for.
Not that this derailed him in any way. He might have been a little late, but he had a plan and he was sticking to it. As the citizens of Oslo were in shock, and as the media were frantically speculating who was behind this terrorist attack (al-Quaida being one of the favorite suspects), Breivik made his way towards the island of Utoeya. This was where the major political party of Norway, Arbeiderpartiet (directly translated this means the Worker’s Party, which to American ears probably sounds like a bunch of commies, but in fact they are more akin to your Democratic Party) had its annual youth camp.
Somewhere along the way he changed into a policeman’s uniform, and at around five in the afternoon he drove up to the ferry, M/S Thorbjoern, which would take him to the island. He showed an authentic-looking police ID to the ferry master, who had heard on the radio about the bombing incident in Oslo, and who had no reason to suspect Breivik’s story that he was there to inform the youngsters about the bombing and to ensure their safety.
At 17:17 he arrived on Utoeya, introduced himself as a policeman, and asked the group leaders to gather everyone in the main cafeteria on the island so that everyone could hear what he had to say. As the youths were arriving into the cafeteria, they heard the first shots, and as they looked out through the main entrance they saw what appeared to be a policeman approaching them. Once Breivik arrived at the building, he asked the youths to approach him, and when they did, he revealed his true self in a manner that beggars belief. With no hint of hesitation, and with a calm and determined expression on his face, Breivik took out his 9 mm Glock and his Ruger M14 automatic rifle and started shooting. At that range, he was hardly likely to miss, and according to eyewitness reports he at first shot indiscriminately as many as he could, and as people started running away in a total panic he calmly reloaded, even as he was telling people not to run, then slowly started to walk among the fallen, making sure they were dead. Some he prodded with his rifle, others he poked with his foot. If he was rewarded with any sign of movement, he took careful aim and shot his target in the head.
I will never forget the interview I saw on TV with one of the survivors, who was wounded in that initial shooting in the cafeteria, and who survived by pretending to be dead. What really stuck in my mind was when she described Breivik’s voice and words as she lay there on the floor. Even as he was shooting people he was shouting for those still alive, those trying to flee, to stay where they were, and not to be afraid as he was not going to hurt them. There was no malice, no hate, in his voice. He was like a robot, saying one thing but contradicting his own words through his actions.
Soon he was the only one left standing in the room, among the bodies of the dead. All in all, thirteen people lost their lives in the shooting in that cafeteria. For Breivik, this was probably a satisfactory start, if not a good one. But he didn’t panic. He knew he had plenty of time to spill even more blood, and that his victims had nowhere to go. The first casualties on Utoeya, the shots the youths in the cafeteria had heard as they were waiting for the policeman he pretended to be, had been the ferry master and the woman who’d remained behind to escort him to the cafeteria, and the only way to and from the island was effectively closed. This meant that the only way off the island was to swim, and that the police, once they were alerted, would have to find an alternative way to reach the island. In other words, he had every reason to feel confident. He was the only armed person on the island, he had two powerful allies in shock and surprise, and he would meet little or no resistance from his victims, who were completely unprepared for the evil they were about to encounter.
Inside the cafeteria he made a final inspection of the carnage, and headed outside to hunt for more enemies of the state. Those who hadn’t made it to the meeting on time, who had only heard the shots, were now approaching a scene that was not only horrifying but also extremely confusing – people were running in every direction, and even as they wondered why, they saw what they thought was a police officer emerge from the house. The scene made no sense, and not knowing what to make of it several of them froze in place.
To Breivik, this made them perfect targets, and with no hesitation he took aim and fired. Again, as people realized the truth of what was happening and began to flee, he told his victims not to be afraid, and that everything would be okay if they just surrendered. But by this time there was no-one who believed him anymore. There had been too much bloodshed for his words to have any credibility at all.
At 17:27 the police were notified about shots fired on Utoeya. At first the bombing and the shootings were treated as two separate issues. It was only later that the connection was discovered. But at the time, no-one knew what the hell was happening. Nor were the police – the real ones – convinced that there was only one shooter on Utoeya. A tactical decision was made to wait for more information as well as reinforcements before making any move. There was only one access route to the island, and the police had to assume that it would be booby-trapped. Utoeya was a political target after all, and the thought that it was nothing more than a slaughterhouse, that by giving Breivik time they played straight into his hand, didn’t enter anyone’s mind until it was far too late.
As the police were debating what to do – for which they received a fair amount of criticism later – Breivik continued his killing spree. He didn’t pick his targets in any way; he just shot at anything that moved. His objective was to kill everyone on that island, except himself, and as soon as he saw an object that resembled a human being, he fired. And he was nothing if not methodical in his madness. He had studied the island before making his attack, and he had a good idea of where people would try to hide, and where they would run.
He followed his victims like the monster he was, taking his time, reloading when necessary, and kept up a monologue about how everything would be so much better for everyone if those who had been sentenced to die would stop hiding and simply accept their fate. This is one of the creepiest aspects of the eyewitness accounts – how Breivik, even as he was murdering people in full view of everyone else, showed no emotion and kept trying to convince those who were hiding to give up by claiming he was not going to hurt them.
Many of the victims were found on the trail that went around the island, familiarly called the path of love (it’s a bad translation, but you get the idea). Breivik made one full revolution of this pathway, before concentrating on the shoreline, where he shot at youngsters trying to swim to safety. Most of the victims were teenagers; the youngest had just turned fourteen.
Finally, at 18:25, almost an hour after they received the first emergency call, the Norwegian SWAT-team landed on Utoeya. Minutes later, when faced with opposition of the armed kind and the possibility that he might actually get hurt, Breivik immediately surrendered, knowing that as long as he kept his hands visible and didn’t make any sudden moves, his life was in no danger. He was taken into custody, and the search for survivors could begin. By that time, he had killed 69 and wounded 60 people on Utoeya, most of them teenagers.
All in all, on July 22nd 2011, Breivik murdered 77 men, women and children, and physically wounded another 158. Those are the easy numbers. What is harder to calculate is the pain inflicted on the relatives and friends of the victims. And even as the truth of what he had done began to sink in, and the fact that the terrorist responsible for this insane and dastardly atrocity was a Norwegian man acting all alone, the question of why resonated loudly not only in Norway, but all over the world.
Breivik himself was more than willing to provide an answer. In his mind, he was a true crusader, fighting for the future of Norway, the perfect soldier just doing his patriotic duty. In the months and years leading up to the culmination of his plans, he had taken a book from the Adolf Hitler school of self-justification and had written his very own manifesto (or, rather, collected, as many of the ideas presented within were variations on old themes), 1500 pages of hate and racism describing how his beloved country was under attack from the growing hordes of Muslims in Europe, and how he had to do something about it before it was too late. He also called the ruling political party, Arbeiderpartiet, traitors, as they – according to him – did not act in the best interest of Norway.
From the very beginning he claimed that he had done nothing wrong. He admitted to the deed, but did not accept it being described as an act of terror or as murder. He was convinced that once he had presented his reasons for doing what he did, every patriotic Norwegian would nod their heads in understanding and hail him as the hero he claimed to be, and thus conclude that he had committed no crime, only fulfilled his role as a savior of Norway. When his presentation met with resistance and he received little to no sympathy from either the courts, the media or the Norwegian people – who, among many other things, could not understand why he had murdered Norwegian citizens in his war against Muslims – he gradually changed his position and claimed that sometimes tragic sacrifices were necessary for the greater good of the nation.
Funny, but I distinctly recall reading a quote by Adolf Hitler saying something in a similar vein.
Immediately after he was caught, the police and prosecutor got busy collecting the evidence and building up a case. Breivik was so convinced of himself (and, as a layman, I cannot help but wonder if a perverse part of him was also proud) that he more than happily helped. On the 13th of August 2011 the police investigators returned with Breivik to the island of Utoeya for a re-creation of that fateful day when he murdered 69 teenagers and their adult minders. Completely calm, and showing no emotion what so ever, Breivik walked the investigators through the events, showing them where and how he had murdered his victims. All in all it took a little over eight hours. Not once did Breivik break down, or show any kind of remorse. I kindly ask you to think about that for a while. Then remind yourselves that the vast majority of his victims were teenagers.
On the 5th of March 2012 Breivik was formally charged with committing an act of terror and with the murder of 77 people. On the 16th of April, the trial began. Now, the trial itself was full of drama and I could write an entire book about it, but if you have read this far, you are probably thinking “when the fuck is this fucking story going to end?” so I will try to keep it short, and focus on the one thing that has stolen most of the attention – the issue regarding his sanity. By the time the trial was well underway, he had undergone two separate psychological evaluations, and the opinions were divided. The first study found him legally insane. The second one contradicted the first one by concluding that, during the time of the attacks, Breivik was legally sane. The keyword here is “legally”, and what it denotes is the question whether or not Breivik was fully aware of what he was doing when committing the murders. The dispute was important, because it determined what kind of sentence Breivik would receive.
If declared legally insane, he was looking at incarceration in an asylum for an indefinite amount of time. Theoretically, this alternative contained the risk that he might one day be set free, assuming a doctor were to change the diagnosis and declare Breivik rehabilitated, though the odds of that happening were extremely small. On the other hand, if he were to be deemed legally sane, he would receive the maximum penalty under Norwegian law and spend 21 years in prison, though this could be extended for a 5-year period if he, after serving 21 years, were still considered a danger to society. The five-year extension can be renewed indefinitely, which means that in this case, he would spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Not surprisingly, Breivik vehemently denied that he’s in any way insane. He has, through his manifesto, built up a fantasy of himself as an intellectual thinker and a crusader against the threat of Islam, and if deemed legally insane, this fantasy would crumble to pieces. For Breivik, this was unacceptable, and from the very beginning his sanity was in question, he told the court that he would appeal the verdict if he were declared legally insane. But where there’s a stick, there’s also usually a carrot. If the court were to find him legally sane, Breivik said, he would accept the verdict and go to prison without any fuss.
This case once again highlights the differences between legalese and English, and I would like to point out that “legally sane” is NOT the same as “sane”. Sane means you’re playing with a full deck, legally sane means you understand what game you’re playing. In my mind, there is no doubt Breivik was missing all the aces and kings, and most of the queens and knights as well. But to help you make up your own minds whether or not Breivik is a few steps short of a full ladder, here are a few examples of the comments given by him during the trial:
“I have committed the most impressive and civilized attack in Europe since the Second World War.”
“They weren’t innocent children, they were political activists.”
“These deeds are based on kindness, not evil.”
“It was a touching video. It reminded me that my country is dying. That is why I began to cry.” – Note: the only time during the entire trial that Breivik showed any emotion was when a propaganda video, made by Breivik and featuring Breivik, was shown. Pictures of the victims in situ, of the brutality of the attack, elicited at most a tiny smile from Breivik. But when he saw himself on the screen, he began to cry. This was his explanation for it.
“I was born in a prison, and grew up in a prison. A prison where I was not allowed to express my opinions. That prison is Norway.”
“It is as wrong to call me evil as it is to accuse the military leaders of the USA of evildoing during the Second World War. They killed 300 000 innocent people to save millions. It was a good deed, not an evil one, even though it was brutal.”
“I would do it all again.”
There are many more, but I think this will suffice. If you see, in your mind’s eye, a ladder you’d gladly climb, there is nothing I can do but hope you hurt yourself before you hurt someone else.
The trial was formally concluded on the 22nd of June, and on the 24th of August the verdict was in. Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen, one of the five judges presiding over the case, began by saying that the judges were unanimous in their decision, before she read the ruling. Despite the prosecution’s wishes that Breivik would be declared insane, the judges ruled Breivik sane enough to be held accountable for both the bombing in Oslo and the murders on Utoeya. Upon hearing this, Breivik couldn’t hide the smile of satisfaction that revealed him as the monster he is. This meant he was going to jail, which was exactly what he wanted. And all through the reading of the verdict Breivik looked more than pleased, a self-satisfied smirk playing on his lips.
Convicted of terrorism and premeditated murder, Breivik received a sentence of “preventive detention”, a special prison term for criminals considered dangerous to society, which was set at a minimum of ten years and a maximum of twenty-one, from which the time he’s already been sitting in jail will be deducted. However, as mentioned earlier, these kinds of sentences can be extended for an indefinite period of time, as long as the inmate is considered a continued threat. But this did not seem to bother Breivik in the least. He was going to get his very own trio of cells, isolated from the rest of the inmates, with his very own gym, a TV and – most important of all, and a privilege he would have lost had he been sent to the funny farm – his very own computer with internet access.
My first reaction was, what the fuck? And I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed that he got exactly what he wanted. Then I heard the collective sigh of relief all the way from Norway, and started to read the comments from the survivors of Utoeya, and the relatives of the victims, who were all pleased with the verdict. And you know what? I changed my mind. Had the judges listened to the prosecution and ruled Breivik legally insane, they would have been forced to go through the procedure of a whole new trial, with all that entails. But in declaring him legally sane, they ensured that this sordid tale received its final chapter, and that Breivik received a punishment that most Norwegians seem to be happy with.
More than anything, the words of one of the survivors of that horrible day, Tore Sinding Bekkedal, struck a chord with me: “I think it was a proper verdict. I have a hard time matching the diagnosis of him being insane, and especially of him suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, with what actually happened. He was completely aware of what he was doing.”
Now the survivors and the relatives of the victims can finally move on, safe in the knowledge that Breivik is locked away. But in this case I cannot help but think that it is a pity that Norway does not have the death-penalty. That would have been the surest way to ensure the elimination of one monster that will remain a thorn in every Norwegian’s side for as long as he lives.
How can I be so sure of this?
Well, the first hint that Breivik is still at war came once the verdict was read, and he was given the word. He began by once again stating that he does not consider the verdict – or the entire trial – to be legal, as he does not recognize the current administration as the rightful representatives of Norway, but that he accepts his punishment and will not appeal the verdict. Notice how he softens the blow of that comment by showing some mock humility at the end? He still thinks he did nothing wrong, and personally I am convinced he will never change his mind about this.
The second hint – and this is the clincher – came when he continued by saying he would like to end with an apology:
“I would like to apologize to all militant nationalists in Norway and in Europe for not having killed more.”
Yes, I’m happy with the verdict. But only because I have nothing but respect and admiration for the Norwegian people, who have weathered an unprecedented tragedy with bravery, dignity and a show of true patriotism, the kind you can be proud of. But did Breivik get what he deserved? No. Not even close. And because there is no punishment sufficient enough in this life, I can only hope there is a hell, and that there is a very special and fitting place reserved for him down there.
Source: Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet
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