Calls to investigate Breivik’s links to UK far right

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by a Newsnet reporter

Scotland Yard has been called upon to investigate more deeply any possible links between the Norwegian gunman Anders Breivik and far right wing groups in the United Kingdom.  European police forces are collaborating to establish an investigation team to trawl through the gunman’s 1500 page ‘manifesto’ in order to determine what links he may have had with other far right-wing extremist groups and individuals.  The specialist unit has been set up in the Hague in the Netherlands.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper yesterday, Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, said that he had written to the Metropolitan police’s new head of counter-terrorism, Cressida Dick, in order to request that more police officers and resources are put into the British aspects of the investigation.  There are currently 50 police officers from a number of European countries seconded to the investigation team in the Hague, including a small number from UK forces.

The call came after it came to light that Breivik claimed in his rambling online ‘manifesto’ that an “English mentor” had been highly influential in determining his thinking.

Breivik identifies an Englishman called ‘Richard’ whom he apparently met in London in 2002.   The occasion was a meeting of right wing extremists who had gathered in order to discuss the formation of a paramilitary group which intended to “seize political and military control of western European countries” in order to “implement a cultural conservative political agenda”.

Breivik claimed that the meeting was attended by like minded individuals from all over Europe, including two from the UK.  The meeting resulted in the formation of an extremist organisation called the Knights Templar Europe.  Breivik claims that two of the organisation’s cells are still active and threatened that there “would be more deaths”.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvonne Cooper has written to the Home Secretary Teresa May asking that the government look again at its anti-terrorism strategy, ‘Prevent’, in the light of the outrage in Norway.   Currently the strategy focusses on countering the threat posed by Islamic extremism.  Last month a review of the strategy was published which ruled out the possibility of any large scale terror attacks by right wing extremist groups.  

The National Association of Muslim Police said yesterday that the British authorities had been in “denial” about the threat posed by the far right.  Zaheer Ahmad, president of the Association, said, “We’ve been too busy looking at the threat from Islamist extremists and taken our eye off the ball on tracking the extremist right.”

At his first court appearance in Oslo yesterday, Breivik was denied the chance to speak to the press after the judge ordered that the proceedings be closed to the public.  Judge Kim Heger made the ruling in order to deny Breivik the opportunity to use the court as a political platform for his extremist views.  Breivik was remanded in solitary confinement for eight weeks.  

Police investigations are continuing.  Due to the complexity of the case and the number of victims, Breivik’s trial may not begin until early next year.

The police vehicle which was carrying Breivik to and from the court hearing was attacked and struck by angry onlookers who jeered and shouted abuse.

Norwegian police later revealed that Breivik had requested that the police allow him to stop off at home on the way to the courthouse in order that he could change into a black paramilitary uniform.  His request was refused.  

The death toll in the tragedy has now been revised downwards to 86.  Reports over the weekend had put the number of deaths at 93, but in the confusion of the events there was some double-counting of victims.