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Norway suspect admits ‘facts,’ not crime

Anders Behring Breivik, shown in online images, thinks his “actions were atrocious, but . . . necessary,’’ his lawyer said. Anders Behring Breivik, shown in online images, thinks his “actions were atrocious, but . . . necessary,’’ his lawyer said. (AFP/ Getty Images)
By Steven Erlanger and Alan Cowell
New York Times / July 25, 2011

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OSLO - The man charged with the attacks in and near Oslo that killed more than 90 people has admitted “to the facts’’ of the case, police and his lawyer said yesterday, and he said he acted alone in a strike foretold in a manifesto calling for a Christian war to defend Europe against Muslim domination.

But Anders Behring Breivik “is not admitting criminal guilt,’’ said the acting police chief in Oslo, Sveinung Sponheim, and his claim to have been the only attacker contrasted with some witness statements. Police said they were looking into reports that there were other assailants in the shootings on Utoya Island.

“We are not sure whether he was alone or had help,’’ a police official, Roger Andresen, said Saturday.

The attacks on Friday - a bombing in central Oslo closely followed by a bloody rampage against young people on the nearby island - was the deadliest in this Nordic nation since World War II. It has stunned many in a population of about 5 million who consider their country to be a haven of peace.

The police said the number of fatalities had risen from 92 to 93 with the death of one of the 97 people who had been reported injured. Most of the bodies were found on Utoya Island, where young people from the governing Labor Party had gathered for an annual camp.

The police described Breivik, 32, as a right-wing fundamentalist Christian. Acquaintances said he was a gun-loving Norwegian obsessed with what he saw as the threats of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration.

Police divers were still searching the lake around Utoya Island for bodies and said there were fears that the death toll could rise again.

Armed officers raided a location in eastern Oslo yesterday and briefly detained several people. Nothing was found linking them to terrorism, police said.

Muted and shaken by the magnitude of the killings, many people gathered at the Lutheran cathedral in Oslo yesterday to mourn. King Harald V and Queen Sonja, both dabbing tears, joined Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and other dignitaries for a service inside.

“We are crying with you. We feel for you,’’ Stoltenberg said. The two days since the killings “feels like an eternity - hours and days and nights filled with shock and angst and weeping,’’ he said.

A minister told mourners packed into the pews under the cathedral’s chandeliered ceiling that “hate cannot triumph over love.’’ Hundreds of others gathered on a rain-swept plaza outside, where they left carpets of flowers and candles.

Tured Mong, a retiree, said she had driven 40 miles with her husband to bring flowers from her garden and a candle she wanted to light.

“I only want to lay them down here,’’ Mong said outside the cathedral. “I am sorry for all the parents waiting to find some news who don’t know about their children.’’

In video footage broadcast by Norwegian television stations yesterday, Geir Lippestad, Breivik’s lawyer, said his client would address a court hearing today about what he had done. “He has said that he believed the actions were atrocious, but that in his head they were necessary,’’ the lawyer said.

Breivik has “admitted his guilt to the actual facts,’’ the lawyer said, declining to go into detail.

The lawyer added in an interview with the NRK public broadcaster: “He wanted a change in society, and from his perspective, he needed to force through a revolution. He wished to attack society and the structure of society.’’

An official with knowledge of the investigation, who was not permitted to speak publicly, said the suspect would most likely appear in the City Court of Oslo and that police would seek to detain him for four weeks on suspicion of terrorism - longer, if necessary for the investigation - before the prosecution brought formal charges.

In a 1,500-page manifesto, posted on the Web hours before the attacks, Breivik recorded a day-by-day diary of his months of planning. He said he was part of a small group that intended to “seize political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda.’’

He predicted a conflagration that would kill or injure more than a million people, adding: “The time for dialogue is over. We gave peace a chance. The time for armed resistance has come.’’

The manifesto was signed Andrew Berwick, an Anglicized version of his name. A former US government official briefed on the case said investigators believed the manifesto was Breivik’s work. Titled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,’’ it equates liberalism and multiculturalism with “cultural Marxism,’’ which the document says is destroying European Christian civilization.

The manifesto also describes a secret meeting in London in April 2002 to reconstitute the Knights Templar, a military order of the Crusaders era. It says the meeting was attended by nine people representing eight European countries, evidently including Breivik, with three additional members unable to attend, including a “European-American.’’

The manifesto does not name the people there, nor does it say whether they were aware of Breivik’s plans.

The manifesto ends with a chilling signoff: “I believe this will be my last entry. It is now Fri July 22nd, 12.51.’’

Some British mosques said they would boost security after the Norway massacre, which underlined Europe’s struggle to root out fears about the continent’s growing Muslim population.

“People are looking over their shoulders and afraid that we will be the next target,’’ said Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, one of Britain’s largest Muslim organizations.

According to the police, Breivik first drew security services to central Oslo when he exploded a car bomb outside a 17-story government office building on Friday, killing at least seven people.

Then he took a public ferry to Utoya Island, where he carried out a remarkably meticulous attack on Norway’s current and future political elite.

He was equipped, the police said, with an automatic rifle and a handgun. When officers finally arrived - about 40 minutes after they were called, the police said - Breivik surrendered.

The police also said he had registered a farm in Rena, in eastern Norway, that allowed him to order a large quantity of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which can be used to make explosives. The authorities were investigating whether the chemical had been used in the bombing.

Besides the manifesto, Breivik left other hints of his motives.

A Facebook page and Twitter account were set up under his name days before the rampage. The Facebook entries cite philosophers such as Machiavelli, Imannuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill.

His lone Twitter post, while not calling for violence, paraphrased Mill - “One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests’’ - suggesting what he saw as his ability to act.

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