Can a country as famously tolerant, integrated and prosperous as Norway feel safe again, now that Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of the misfortune that hit Norway July 22 last year in the form of two sequential lone wolf terrorist attacks, is behind bars serving his 21-year sentence? Maybe not.
“There is a real chance that 7/22 can happen again,” Kjetil Stormark the Norwegian author of the recently released book, “The Oslo Killer Files: Private emails of a mass murderer,” told the International Business Times in an email interview.
“From the fact that Breivik accumulated 8,109 email addresses of what he perceived to be other “patriots” in Europe and the rest of the world, it is fair to presume that Breivik must have had quite extensive contacts with others who share his beliefs, if not necessarily his choice of methods,” says Stormark.
“Breivik tried to send his 1,500-page manifesto – 2083: A European Declaration of Independence – to the 8,109 email addresses, but only succeeded in sending out one email to a little more than 1,000 recipients. I firmly believe the investigation should continue looking into what international contacts Breivik might have had. It is likely that Breivik has been influenced by others, in the same way others now feed off him - both from the manifesto and his actions,” he says.
The book, based on 7,000-8,000 emails from four different email accounts of Breivik, serves as a pointer to the workings of a person’s mind who discusses through these correspondences matters ranging from his views on the immigration situation in Oslo and international politics to his decision to quit the computer game World of Warcraft (WoW), to try Age of Conan (AoC) instead.
When Breivik moved back to his mother’s apartment in Oslo’s Skøyen district in the summer of 2006 at the age of 27, he began to spend much of the day, up to 16 hours, playing computer games on the web.
Notably, Breivik's half-sister Elisabeth, a resident of California, in a typewritten letter to their mother Wenche sent in 2009 or 2010, expressed concern for Breivik and his lifestyle: “Anders is going nowhere, Mama. He wants nothing out of life, apart from what he has done for the last few years, plus what he’s up to now. When you handed him the phone after you and I talked, he asked if he could ring me back later, since he was in the middle of a ‘discussion.’ I asked what kind of discussion, and he wouldn’t answer. When he called me back he said he had been gaming. So obviously he is still doing that! This is not normal, you know, Mama! He's 30 years old!! No functioning person acts that way.”
The correspondence between Breivik and Elisabeth “shows that Breivik is trying to disguise his double life and the planning of the terror attacks, so his family does not detect what he actually is up to,” Stormark says. “It also reveals Breivik as a person with empathy and feelings, at least when it comes to his closest family.”
The email correspondence of Breivik, who had evidently been using as many as 31 different email accounts as claimed by the defense, his behavior throughout the 10-week trial and other evidence related to the planning of the terror attacks, suggest that he is a “systematic and a patient person who knew that what he was planning, were serious violations of the law and inhuman acts,” Stormark says.
“Even though Breivik obviously has little empathy for others than himself, he is and was a criminally sane person,” he says.
“In my review of all the emails, I have seen no evidence or suggestion that anyone Breivik corresponded with had the faintest idea what he was planning,” Stormark writes in his book.
The book’s final chapter reproduces many messages sent to Breivik in the hours after the attacks of July 22, 2011. “I consider them a healthy addition to the story of Norway’s reaction,” the author says. “While rose marches and loving commemorations have come to symbolize Norwegian stoicism in the face of the tragedy, many of the messages sent to Breivik express a wholesome rage that has been almost invisible in public.”
How does the state prevent such attacks or identify potential militant extremism? “In determining who could be a future terrorist, it is a matter of corroborating evidence and information from different sources,” Stormark says, adding that the people accumulating weapons and explosive equipments at the same time like Breivik did should be subjected to background verification.
“On December 5, 2010, the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) received a list of 42 Norwegians who had bought chemicals from a Polish company. The chemicals could be used for building bombs. The information was received through the international intelligence cooperation called Global Shield, but never caused PST to initiate any background checks on Breivik. Only one out of the 42 Norwegians was checked by PST.”
The 7/22 Commission has suggested imposing a ban on all semi-automatic weapons in Norway.
“If such a ban is not imposed, stricter control policies should and must be implemented. It is crucial that we enable both the Police security service (PST) and other law enforcement entities so they may do extensive background checks on a person, if the person of interest actually owns weapons that could pose a severe risk if the person decides to do something unlawful,” Stormark says.
Does Breivik represent an inevitable outcome of Norway's “ideological and racial fracture caused by immigration from outside Europe over the last 20 years,” as French author Richard Millet claimed?
“Millet serves, unwillingly, as an illustration of a major challenge in Europe the next few years,” Stormark says.
“The social unrest following the financial crisis has created a situation where Europe stands at a turning point, to some degree like the situation in 1930. Large groups can, psychologically speaking, have an increased need for blaming other groups for their own misfortune. Increased tension between different ethnic groups can be a result from this, if the media and the political elite do not pay close attention to what is happening in the political, extremist underground movements. There are political operators willing and able to channel and organize frustration and hatred for their own, political benefit. This represents a clear and present danger. It is, in effect, the most important security challenge of the decade,” he concludes.