Police attempting to piece together Anders Behring Breivik’s links to far-right groups in the UK and Europe have written to Scotland Yard asking for more officers to help with the investigation.
A specialist unit has been set up in The Hague to trawl through a database of known high-risk, right-wing extremists and assist the Norwegian police as they examine evidence from Breivik’s 1,500-page “manifesto” published online hours before he launched one of the worst mass killings in peacetime Europe.
Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, told the Guardian he had written to Scotland Yard’s new head of counterterrorism, Cressida Dick, asking for more British officers after Breivik boasted of his links to far-right groups in the UK.
“What we’ve seen is an active extremist scene across European countries, including the UK,” Wainwright said.
“There are some signs the extreme right have been more active, especially on the Internet. They are more sophisticated and using social media to attract younger people,” he said.
There are up to 50 officers already assigned to the specialist unit in The Hague, including a small number of detectives from the UK.
Breivik’s alleged links to the UK emerged in his manifesto, which details his years of meticulous planning prior to Friday’s attacks. The document was signed “Andrew Berwick” (an anglicized version of his name), written entirely in English and datelined “London, 2011” — although security services and police say there is no further evidence at this stage to suggest it was written in the UK.
In the manuscript, Breivik describes his “mentor” as an Englishman he identifies as “Richard,” and says his journey into violent extremism began at a small meeting in London in 2002 where a group of like-minded extremists met to “reform” the Knights Templar Europe, a military group whose purpose was “to seize political and military control of western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda.”
The group’s name is a reference to the medieval Christian military order involved in the Crusades.
It has no connection to the Knights Templar International, a organization aiming to build “bridges throughout the world for peace and understanding,” and which has issued a statement deploring Breivik’s “senseless acts of terrorism.”
In his manifesto, Breivik said the gathering in London was “not a stereotypical ‘right-wing’ meeting full of underprivileged, racist skinheads with a short temper.” Instead, he claimed those present were successful entrepreneurs, “business or political leaders, some with families, most Christian conservatives, but also some agnostics and even atheists.”
Breivik said the handful of far-right activists had traveled to London from across Europe and most had not met each other before. He did not name names, but claims two of them, including the host, were English, as well as one French, one German, one Dutch, one Greek, one Russian and one Serbian.
“They obviously wanted resourceful, pragmatical [sic] individuals who were able to keep information away from their loved ones and who were not in any way flagged by their governments,” he wrote.
Breivik also boasted about links to the the English Defence League (EDL).
He mentioned the group several times in the manifesto and claimed he had “spoken with tens of EDL members and leaders ... [supplying] them with processed ideological material [including rhetorical strategies] in the very beginning.”
The far-right EDL on Sunday condemned the killings and denied any links with Breivik.
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