Sunday, July 24, 2011

Questions Arise Over Norwegian Police Response To Utoya Massacre

Norway continues to mourn and come to grips with the horrible terror attacks that killed more than 90 people.

As authorities continue their investigation into Anders Breivik and how he managed to murder more than 90 people, many of them teens at a youth camp on the island retreat of Utoya, there are new questions over the speed of the police response. It appears that police took more than an hour to arrive on the scene.
A SWAT team was dispatched to the island more than 50 minutes after people vacationing at a campground said they heard shooting across the lake, according to Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim. The drive to the lake took about 20 minutes, and once there, the team took another 20 minutes to find a boat.

Footage filmed from a helicopter that showed the gunman firing into the water added to the impression that police were slow to the scene. They chose to drive, Sponheim said, because their helicopter wasn’t on standby.

“There were problems with transport to Utoya,” where the youth-wing of Norway’s left-leaning Labor Party was holding a retreat, Sponheim said. “It was difficult to get a hold of boats.”

At least 82 people were killed on the island, but police said four or five people were still missing.

Divers have been searching the surrounding waters, and Sponheim said the missing may have drowned. Police earlier said there was still an unexploded device on the island, but it later turned out to be fake.
The latest reports indicate that Breivik acted alone, but that he left a 1,500 page manifesto that investigators will pore though to examine his motivations and for additional evidence.
He added that the actions had been planned for some time.

The suspect is reported to have had links with right-wing extremists.

Still pictures of him, wearing a wetsuit and carrying an automatic weapon, appeared in a 12-minute anti-Muslim video called Knights Templar 2083, which appeared briefly on YouTube.

A 1,500-page document written in English and said to be by Mr Breivik - posted under the pseudonym of Andrew Berwick - was also put online hours before the attacks, suggesting they had been years in the planning.

The document and the video repeatedly refer to multiculturalism and Muslim immigration; the author claims to be a follower of the Knights Templar - a medieval Christian organisation involved in the Crusades, and sometimes revered by white supremacists.
He spent years putting together this particular manifesto, and was quite meticulous in how he planned the attacks.
Mr Breivik went to elaborate lengths to conceal his purpose. People who wanted to visit were told he was busy with the summer harvest, though he knew nothing of farming. He was apparently content to let a rumour circulate that he had dropped out of circulation in shame over a homosexual affair.

Mr Breivik's manifesto-- “2083. A European Declaration of Independence”--also provides some insight into his motivations. His ideology appears to be a form of reactionary Christian fundamentalism, fuelled by hatred of Islam, Marxism and non-whites.

Page after page detail his thoughts on politics and society. He rails against the European Union, the United Nations and other transnational organisations. Norwegian politicians are castigated: the right-wing Progress Party (to which he once belonged) is condemned as too tame and the ruling Labour Party comes in for particularly vicious attack.

Mr Breivik’s hatred has stunned Norwegians. The country has a proud reputation as an international peace-broker, is home to the Nobel peace prize and has scant appetite for rightist radicalism. Even during its heyday under the Nazi occupation, Vidkun Quisling’s fascist Nasjonal Samling Party mustered no more than 2.5% of the vote. In 2009's general election, the neo-Nazi party Vigrid won just 179 votes.

The only serious far-right violent incident in recent years was the murder, in 2001, of Benjamin Hermansen, the 15-year-old son of a Norwegian mother and Ghanaian father. Two members of BootBoys, a neo-Nazi group, were convicted of the killing.

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