Before he carried out the attacks that killed scores of people in Norway, Anders Behring Breivik wrote of his allegiance to the Knights Templar, which he described as a secret society created to carry out a crusade against Islam in Europe.
While law enforcement agencies said they had never heard of the group, a man named Paul Ray, who writes an anti-Muslim blog called “Lionheart,” said it does exist and he was one of the founders.
However, he denies any contact with Breivik and is instead condemning his actions — if not his ideals.
In a 1,500-page manifesto, Breivik claimed the new group was created at a meeting in London in 2002 and said his mentor was a man called “Richard (the Lionhearted).”
He did not give Richard’s real name, but members of a right-wing English group identified him as Ray.
Ray, who was reached in Malta, where he now lives, confirmed the existence of a loose group of anti-Islamic extremists inspired by the Knights Templar, a Crusader-era fighting force known for battling Islam. However, he said Breivik is not associated with it.
And while he says he shares his anti-Muslim views, he doesn’t know Breivik and is not the mentor cited in his rambling manifesto.
“My thoughts are the same ... that there is a threat to our way of life from Islam. I’m not going to say I don’t think there is, because I do,” Ray said.
The 35-year-old Briton often espouses views similar to Breivik’s on his anti-Muslim blog, whose title is a reference to King Richard I of England, who led Christian crusades in the 12th century and was known as Richard the Lionheart.
And Ray does have several similarities with the “mentor” in the Norwegian killer’s manifesto, chiefly that the anti-Muslim group he leads is called The Ancient Order of the Templar Knights.
However, Ray said the group had no formal structure, and he refused to name any members or indicate how many it has.
“It’s an idea,” Ray said. “It’s not like it’s a massive organization. It’s a belief.”
Breivik, 32, said he committed last Friday’s massacre as the order’s first blow in an apocalyptic war against Muslims, immigrants and leftists to prevent what he believes is an Islamic attempt to take over Western Europe.
Ray denied he approved of Breivik’s methods, which include killing innocents to draw attention to his philosophy.
“Being implicated in this, I just want the truth to come out and it proven that I’m nothing whatever to do with this,” said Ray, who was born Paul Sonato, but took his mother’s maiden name.
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