The Norwegian anti-Muslim group that terrorist Anders Behring Breivik claimed to have co-founded is connected with its English counterpart, online postings reveal.
Breivik, the man behind the killing of at least 76 people in a bomb blast in Oslo and a series of shootings at a youth camp on the nearby island of Utoya on Friday, notes that he is affiliated with the Norwegian Defence League (NDL) in his near-1,500-page manifesto posted on the internet hours before carrying out the atrocities.
The Christian fundamentalist also mentions his ties with the far-right English Defence League throughout the writings, revealing that he had been “impressed” by the group, which campaigns against what it sees as the spread of Islam and Sharia Law in Britain.
In a manifesto titled 2083, Breivik writes: “I used to have more than 600 EDL members as Facebook friends and have spoken with tens of EDL members and leaders. In fact; I was one of the individuals who supplied them with processed ideological material (including rhetorical strategies) in the very beginning.”
As far as I’m concerned I’d be happy to execute people who try to spread Sharia law. EDL financier Alan Lake
He also attended two EDL rallies in Britain last year in west London and Newcastle, according to unconfirmed reports.
An EDL member appeared to corroborate’s Breivik presence at the demo when he posted the following online: “[B]ar one or two doubt the rest of us ever met him, altho he did come over for one of our demo in 2010 … but what he did was wrong.”
But Breivik is not the sole link between the EDL and the NDL. It appears the former pulls the strings of its Nordic counterpart.
In March, Hel Gower, a leading figure in the EDL heirarchy, posted a comment on the NDL’s Facebook page, saying her group had ruled on problems caused by the latter’s leadership vacuum and appointed an interim head.
“For the time being and up untill (sic) the planned election of new leadership on the 9th of April, Haavar Krane of SION will function as the officially recognised spokesman and leader of the Norwegian Defence League endorsed by the EDL,” Ms Gower wrote.
He added that under Mr Krane’s direction, the NDL should seek approval from the EDL on all leadership matters.
That the NDL is apparently answerable to its English equivalent sheds greater light on the EDL’s sphere of influence. But the group has been pushing its message outside of Britain for some time.
EDL’s chief financier, Alan Lake, travelled to Malmo in Sweden in September, 2009, where he talked about how best to form anti-Islamic groups in the image of the EDL.
“I call them seditious. They are seeking the overthrow of the state. They’re not respecting that which protects the state. As far as I’m concerned I’d be happy to execute people like that,” he told TV2.
He added: “It doesn’t look good for certain countries in Europe, certainly those with smaller populations. I suspect its going to take the loss of a few countries to wake other people up.”
The apparent links between Breivik and the EDL have prompted the Metropolitan Police to start an investigation, and Prime Minister David Cameron said he will review Britain’s own security following the attacks.
In the aftermath of Friday’s attacks in Norway, anti-extremist campaign groups and think tanks in Britain have also called on the UK Government to formally classify the EDL as a far-right organisation rather than a legitimate political entity.
The EDL had denied any link to Breivik.
A statement on the EDL website read: “We can categorically state that there has never been any official contact between him and the EDL, our Facebook page had 100,000 supporters and receives tens of thousands of comments each day.
“And there is no evidence that Brievik was ever one of those 100,000 supporters. Even so, anyone who expresses any extremist beliefs of any kind, be it white supremacist, Christian fundamentalist or Islamic extremists, they all get banned from the site.”
The NDL also distanced itself from Breivik. Its statement read: “It is with disbelief and sadness that we have received news of the tragedy at the government building and on the island.
“Our goal has always been to provide information about the conflict between western values and Islam. Violence and terror is the means…we firmly reject.”