Norway Says Attacker Worked Alone; EU Concerned About Copycat Attacks

Posted July 28th, 2011 at 3:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Norway's security chief says it appears increasingly likely that the suspect in last week's attacks that killed 76 people acted alone, saying investigators have found no evidence so far he is linked to other extremists.

The director of the Norwegian Police Security Service, Janne Kristiansen, said Thursday investigators have found no signs — before or after the massacre — of a larger conspiracy, but that it is too early to rule it out completely. Describing the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, as “total evil,” Kristiansen said it appears he did not share his plans with anyone and lived an outwardly lawful and moderate lifestyle.

Her comments came as European Union counterterrorism experts meeting in Brussels expressed concern that Breivik, who has confessed to the killings, could inspire potential copycat attacks. A top EU counterterrorism advisor, Tim Jones, said one major risk is that someone may try to mount an attack as a way of showing support. The officials are working to develop ways to prevent similar incidents in the future, including quicker sharing of information and a better understanding of what triggers a radical to become a terrorist.

Norwegian police say they plan to interrogate Breivik again on Friday, focusing on whether there is any more danger. Breivik claimed to be part of a wider “crusade” against Muslim immigration and multiculturalism in Europe.

Also Thursday, police released the names of 24 more victims, raising the total identified to 41. Earlier, police ended a six-day search for the last of those missing on Utoeya island, where 68 of the victims were killed in a gun rampage. A search for bodies in the surrounding lake continues.

Utoeya is about 40 kilometers from the capital, Oslo, where Breivik had detonated a car bomb shortly before going to the island. The blast killed eight people and wrecked the office building of Prime Minister Jen Stoltenberg.

On Wednesday, Mr. Stoltenberg announced an independent performance review of the country's security services.

Domestic critics say Norwegian police were slow to respond to the shooting attack on Utoeya, where hundreds of youth activists had gathered for a ruling Labor Party retreat.

One of the first policemen to arrive on Utoeya said Wednesday the 32-year-old gunman surrendered by raising his hands above his head as soon as the squad yelled that “armed police” were approaching him.

Specialized police officers drove from Oslo and used boats to reach Utoeya because it was considered faster than using a helicopter. The first boat that the squad tried to use broke down.

In his news conference, Mr. Stoltenberg said Norway will not be intimidated by the attacks and predicted his nation will become a more democratic, open society with broader public participation in politics. He said extreme political views are legitimate in Norwegian society, but implementing them violently is not.

Breivik faces terrorism charges for the attacks, which he says were aimed at saving Europe's Christian heritage from what he calls “Muslim colonization.” An Oslo court ruled Monday that the suspect should be detained for eight weeks as police investigate his actions. Friday's violence was the deadliest in Norway since World War Two.