The Norwegian who dressed up as a policeman and allegedly gunned down at least 92 people at an idyllic summer camp in the island of Utoeya grew up in the lap of luxury in a nation best known for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize and mediating in the Palestinian and other conflicts.
The darkly disturbing portrait of Anders Behring Breivik, 32 – the key suspect in twin attacks that has killed more than 90 people in twin attacks in a government-district explosion in Oslo and the bucolic youth camp – has left investigators with a puzzling profile: he appears to be a right-winger with anti-Muslim views but no known links to hardcore extremists.
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The Norwegian daily Verdens Gang quoted a friend as saying Breivik became a right-wing extremist in his late 20s – expressing strong nationalistic views in online debates, and blasting the idea that people of different cultural backgrounds can live alongside each other.
"He just came out of nowhere," a police official told The Associated Press.
Norwegian news agency NTB said the blond and blue-eyed Breivik legally owned several firearms and belonged to a gun club. He ran an agricultural firm growing vegetables, an enterprise that could have helped him secure large amounts of fertilizer, a potential ingredient in bombs.
But he didn't belong to any known factions in Norway's small and splintered extreme right movement, and had no criminal record except for some minor offenses, the police official told AP. "He hasn't been on our radar, which he would have been if was active in the neo-Nazi groups in Norway," he said. "But he still could be inspired by their ideology."
Breivik lashed out at socialism for breaking down traditions, culture, national identity and other societal structures – blaming it for creating a society that was weak and confused.
On his Facebook page, Breivik listed his favourite books as "The Trial" by Franz Kafka and "1984" by George Orwell. A Twitter account under his name had only one tweet, on July 17, loosely citing English philosopher John Stuart Mill: “One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests.”
He also expresses sympathies for Winston Churchill and Norwegian anti-Nazi World War II hero Max Manus on his alleged profile.
And he said his favorite television show was "Dexter," a series about a Miami police forensics expert who moonlights as a serial killer of criminals whom he believes have escaped justice. The Facebook site appeared to have been blocked by last night, but earlier it had listed interests including bodybuilding, conservative politics and freemasonry.
His earlier life was in stark contrast, The Times of London reported, saying his attended a middle-class secondary school in Oslo and lived with his mother in a wealthy neighborhood in the city. He'd set up his own business, Breivik Geofarm, and a month ago started to run an organic farm in Hedmark, in eastern Norway, where he reportedly produced and stored fertilizer.
Breivik's registered address is at a four-story apartment building in western Oslo. A police car was parked outside the brick building early Saturday, with officers protecting the entrance. National police chief Sveinung Sponheim told public broadcaster NRK that the gunman's Internet postings "suggest that he has some political traits directed toward the right, and anti-Muslim views, but whether that was a motivation for the actual act remains to be seen."
"It's strange that he didn't kill himself, like the guys that have carried out school shootings," the police official told AP. "It's a good thing that he didn't because then we might get some answers pointing out his motivation."
Investigators said the Norwegian carried out both attacks — the blast at the prime minister's office in Oslo and the shooting spree at the left-wing Labor Party's youth camp — but didn't rule out that others were involved. But the police official said it wouldn't be impossible for one man to carry out the attacks on his own. "He's obviously cold as ice. But to get close to the government is easy. The streets are open in that area," he said.
A Wikipedia entry for Breivik says he was born on February 13, 1979 and is described as a one-time freemason.
At a hotel in the village of Sundvollen, where survivors of the summer camp shooting were taken, 21-year-old Dana Berzingi wore pants stained with blood. He said the fake police officer ordered people to come closer, then pulled weapons and ammunition from a bag and started shooting.
Several victims "had pretended as if they were dead to survive," Berzingi said. But after shooting the victims with one gun, the gunman shot them again in the head with a shotgun, he said.