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In Norway, piecing together suspect's motives

Police describe Anders Behring Breivik as a 'right-wing Christian fundamentalist,' while friends reportedly say he had begun voicing increasingly extremist views.

July 24, 2011|Edmund Sanders

VIENNA — In the photographs now circulating around the world, Anders Behring Breivik looks almost preppy.

Neatly parted blond hair frames a boyishly handsome face. The upturned collar of a peach-colored polo shirt pokes through a dark Izod sweater.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, July 26, 2011 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 45 words Type of Material: Correction
Norway suspect: An article in the July 24 Section A about Anders Behring Breivik, the suspect in the attacks in Norway, said a Facebook page described him as a fan of the HBO drama "Dexter." The series, about a guilt-ridden serial killer, is on Showtime.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, July 31, 2011 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Norway suspect: An article in the July 24 Section A about Anders Behring Breivik, the suspect in the attacks in Norway, said a Facebook page described him as a fan of the HBO drama "Dexter." The series is on Showtime.

It's hard to reconcile the softly smiling young man in these professional studio shots with the monster who witnesses say donned a police uniform and ruthlessly hunted down scores of young Norwegians, firing at those who jumped into freezing water in a desperate bid to escape.

"I'll kill every one of you," he shouted at them, witnesses recalled.

Now it is up to investigators to fit the two seemingly incongruous images together in an effort to comprehend what motivated the man believed to be behind the attacks.

As more details emerge, Norwegians are coming to terms with the fact that rather than some radical foreign agenda shattering the idyllic society they sought to create here, the twin attacks appear to have been orchestrated by a lone home-grown terrorist, raised and educated in a middle-class family and who never had problems with the law before.

According to a Facebook page with Breivik's name and photo, the 32-year-old describes himself as a former business student with interests that include Winston Churchill, bodybuilding and Freemasonry. His listed preferences include violent movies, war-themed video games, classical music and the HBO drama "Dexter," about a guilt-ridden serial killer.

Police are focusing on a darker side, describing him as a "right-wing Christian fundamentalist" who frequented extremist websites and left a trail of passionate, sometimes obscure rants that reflected strong anti-Islamic views, deep skepticism about the mixing of cultures and animosity toward socialism.

Officials said they would not speculate on whether his political or religious views played a role in the attack.

But a chilling 1,500-page political manifesto, titled "A European Declaration of Independence," posted on the Internet this year appears to lay out Breivik's world views. Exact authorship of the book could not be immediately verified.

Sections of the online book include "What your government, the academia and the media are hiding from you," "Documenting EU's deliberate strategy to Islamize Europe" and "How the feminists' 'War Against the Boys' paved the way for Islam."

The book calls for a "conservative revolution" and "preemptive declaration of war," including "armed resistance against the cultural Marxists/multiculturalist regimes of Western Europe."

It describes "attack strategies," including assassinating professors and carrying out coordinated assaults on multiple targets at the same time.

In a passage that appeared to predict the tactics in the twin attacks on Friday, the manifesto advises: "You will usually always be caught, so instead of going home and waiting for someone to knock at your door, move to your second target, then the third, etc."

The treatise suggests wearing a police SWAT uniform as a disguise to avoid raising suspicion while moving around with weapons. And it specifically mentions targeting annual political meetings, barbecues and gatherings that draw hundreds of people, using flame-throwers or assault rifles on the crowds. "The party delegates will flee like rats from the fire," the book reads.

Friends of Breivik -- a single man who lived with his mother until recently -- said he began in recent years to voice ever more extremist and nationalist views, according to Norwegian news reports. He is a gun enthusiast, with several weapons registered in his name, but he did not appear to exhibit any violent behavior, other than his writings, that might have raised red flags.

On social media forums, he claimed to be a disgruntled former member of Norway's anti-tax, small-government Progress Party, according to the Norwegian Nettavisen news service.

In 2009, he founded a farming company called Breivik Geofarm, which cultivates melons and roots, according to Norway's TV2.

Now investigators are focusing on whether he used that business to buy fertilizer that could have been used to construct the powerful bomb that went off near a government facility in downtown Oslo.

On a Twitter account created recently in his name, a July 17 posting quotes British philosopher John Stuart Mill and gives little indication of a man preparing to use guns and bombs to deliver his message: "One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests."

edmund.sanders@latimes.com

Times staff writers Janet Stobart in London and Henry Chu in Oslo contributed to this report.

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