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Norway: The Online Traces of a Mass Murderer

An Oslo street after the explosion

An Oslo street the day after the explosion, by Francesco Rivetti on July 23, 2011 shared on Flickr (CC-BY-NC-SA)

On Friday 22 July, 2011, at 3:26 PM an explosion in Oslo, Norway killed seven people and caused extensive damage to several government buildings. The terror continued only few hours later when a man masquerading as a police officer opened fire on participants at a Labour Party Youth (AUF) camp [no] on the island Utøya. At least 85 people were murdered on the island before the shooter was apprehended by police and identified as a 32-year old Norwegian man named Anders Behring Breivik.

Breivik's Facebook page was quickly discovered (now offline) as was a single Twitter message he posted on 17 July. Bloggers and journalists in Norway and abroad have continued to look for any trace of the man online that could help explain his unfathomable actions.

Searching for clues to a motive

On Saturday, a blogger named Kevin Slaughter (@kevinslaughter) in the United States found a 1,514 page manifesto and a 12-minute video that appeared to be by Breivik although it was published in English under the pen name “Andrew Berwick”. It's a rambling tirade against “cultural-Marxists” and the “Islamisation of Europe” and it offers advice for would-be terrorists. Norwegian media have confirmed that the document and video were uploaded by Breivik on the same day of the attacks.

While the document can hardly be considered recommended reading, intense curiosity about the identity of the killer, has turned it into a popular topic of discussion.

On Twitter, conversations about the document can now be found on the hashtag #N2083 which is a reference to its title, “2083: A European Declaration of Independence.”

Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) the managing editor of Foreign Policy Magazine live-tweeted quotes from the manifesto as he read through it on Saturday.

@blakehounshell: Author gamely concedes, “Being a Justiciar Knight is not for everyone.”

@blakehounshell: “Appear politically correct or at least moderate, dress normally. Try to limit your rhetorical activities. Avoid excessive forum posting.”

@blakehoundshell: Author recommends telling your friends/co-workers/family that you have started to play, say, World of Warcraft and want to focus on that.

Ignoring his own advice, Breivik did in fact make postings to online forums, including to the Norwegian right-wing and anti-Muslim-immigration website Document.no. His comments here from 2009 and 2010 [no] have been translated to English and reposted on the personal blog of Doug Saunders (@DougSaunders), European bureau chief for the Globe and Mail newspaper from Canada.

As seen elsewhere

On Sunday, the founder of Document.no Hans Rustad uncovered that Breivik's manifesto plagiarized entire paragraphs [no] from the manifesto of Ted Kaczynski, also known as the “Unabomber.” Kaczynski sent over a dozen mail bombs to universities and airlines between 1978 and 1995, killing three people. Where Kaczynski wrote “leftist,” Breivik has written “cultural Marxist” instead. Rustad writes that he discovered this from an unnamed source who “studied the manifesto all night, and “coincidentally noticed a likeness”. Responding to intense media curiosity, Document.no have distanced themselves [no] from Breivik, pointing to personal criticism of Rustad in the manifesto, and also by highlighting that Breivik also posted to other online forums like Minerva [no] and to the Swedish neo-Nazi site Nordisk.nu [se].

Previous postings from Breivik have also been spotted in the online gamer's forum Eu.Battle.Net where players of World of Warcraft and other online multi-player games convene to discuss game matters. In one thread entitled “Attacker from Oslo a WoW player??” forum members discuss if they have ever interacted with Breivik, and how his gaming history is likely lead to negative media portrayals of videos games.

On the NY Times news blog, The Lede, Robert Mackey, posted several links to “Web Clues to a Supected Attacker's Motives” and several citizen videos showing the damage on the streets of Oslo.

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