When Anders Behring Breivik opened fire on a summer camp on Oslo, Norway's Utoeya Island, he was dressed as a police officer. In this disguise, Breivik was able to lure the teenaged campers toward him before murdering them.
Costumes are an important part of Breivik's mission. Before his attack, the Norwegian radical sent a 1,500-page manifesto out to about 7,000 people -- mostly via Facebook -- which included photos of Breivik dressed and posing in a number of outfits, such as a HAZMAT suit, a military-scuba rig and military formal wear of his own design.
In this manifesto, titled "2083: A European Declaration of Independence," Breivik goes into great detail about the dress requirements for his Knights Templar, and the "Justiciar Knights," a made-up rank in his army. For Breivik, looking the part and playing into a stylized military ideal is an extremely important part of his quest.
He has apparently been planning his rebellion for years, and there are shockingly detailed reports about attacks, but his obsession with appearance counteracts his political message. As revealed in "2038," Breivik had designed uniforms, badges, medals, insignia, and epaulets for a military that doesn't exist. He wore radiation suits and modeled with a chemistry set for reasons that are hard to grasp.
Breivik's campaign is one based in narcissism and hatred. Much of "2083" is devoted to Breivik himself, and rambles on about his strength and greatness.
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"I have an extremely strong psyche (stronger than anyone I have ever known)," he writes in the book.
This is just one of many instances of his overwhelming vanity. The book wavers between political diatribe and upbeat boasting. In one moment, Breivik is quoting "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski, in the next, he's saying "lol" and talking about "World of Warcraft."
At one point, Breivik gives himself a series of personality questions as if he were writing a college application. This section starts abruptly and continues for more than 15 pages.
"Q: Name your favourite; a. music, b. destination, c. possession or item with high affection value, d. clothing brand, e. au [sic] de toilette, f. ball sport, g. football team, h. comedian, i. food, j. movie, k. type of architecture and interior design direction, l. beer, m. drink, n. books," it said (emphasis original).
To say that the bombing and shooting were purely vanity projects-turned-disastrous would be a serious discredit to the victims of the terrorist attack. This was a calculated and unthinkable deed, the work of a deeply troubled individual.
Yet, whatever has turned the Norwegian citizen to radicalism is connected to this desire for attention.
"It's clear from the manifesto Anders Behring Breivik published online ... that he's looking for a platform to air his belief that Europe must be saved from Muslim colonization; he has said that the killings themselves were 'marketing' for the manifesto," a judge in Oslo said Monday.
The notion that the two attacks were simply methods of drawing attention to himself and to his uprising shines through "2083." Breivik's priority often shifts from fighting "cultural Marxism" to details about the group he thinks is forming around him.
Of his future supporters, Breivik requires a photo shoot. It is to be the first action of all inscribed militiamen, even before action or planning. He writes:
As a Justiciar Knight you will go into history as one of the most influential individuals of your time. So you need to look your absolute best and ensure that you produce quality marketing material prior to operation. Prepare for the photo session;
- Take a few hours in a solarium to look fresher.
- Train hard (work out) at least 7 days prior to photo session
- Cut your hair, shave
- Visit a male salon if possible and apply light makeup. Yes, I know - this might sound repulsive to big badass warriors like us, but we must look our best for the shoot
- Use your best clothing - you can f [sic] example bring 3 different sets of clothing to the shoot location - 1. Dress, tie etc. 2. Casual wear 3. Sporty wear 4. Militaristic wear (obviously, you can't bring your guns or anything indicating that you are a resistance fighter). You should always order the photo session in a foreign country to avoid that the personnel alerts authorities. Always pay in cash and do not sign any receipt with your own name.
End note: Be very careful to have military shots lying around. Be very careful if you decide to use pictures with guns. People who see these photos might alert the authorities. Carefully consider the use of symbols as it might backfire. Cross of the martyrs is fine (St. George) but avoid any symbol associated with Nazism.
This fixation with appearance speaks to the paranoia and mania that drove Breivik to commit such horrible deeds. While imagining a decorated army, he imagined an enemy in Muslims and left-wing Europeans.
Unlike other cults of personality, Breivik seems unable to persuade people to join his cause. While he insisted in court and in writing that he is part of a larger organization -- perhaps a newly reinstated Knights Templar -- there is currently no evidence that he had help in the attack.
He clearly wants to have followers, unlike Kaczynski, who lived alone in the woods. Breivik's mission, above all else, seems to lead men. He addresses an audience he did not have until he carried out his murders.
"They will label me as a racist, fascist, Nazi-monster as they usually do with everyone who opposes multiculturalism/cultural Marxism. However, since I manifest their worst nightmare ... they will probably ... propagate the following accusations: pedophile, engaged in incest activities, homosexual, psycho, ADHD, thief, non-educated, inbred, maniac, insane, monster etc. I will be labeled as the biggest (Nazi-)monster ever witnessed since WW2."
After 1,500 pages, Breivik was right on that one point. "Maniac," "insane," and "monster" are cheap labels that are thrown around too often. But there is a psychological tension in Anders Breivik that goes beyond politics, beyond anti-Muslim tendencies. Buried beneath his costumed persona, Breivik is a lonely man looking for attention.