Norwegian authorities have reportedly arrested a 32-year-old man named Anders Behring Breivik in connection with Friday’s terrorist attack. While his precise motives remain unclear, the police have reportedly dismissed any ties to jihadism. The Norwegian press is also reporting that Breivik may be a right-wing extremist.
The story continues to evolve and Breivik’s alleged role remains to be confirmed.
Early reports tying the attack to jihadist terror were based largely on online claims of responsibility. Known jihadist forums, including one connected to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack. In addition, an al Qaeda plot in Oslo was broken up just last year when members of an al Qaeda cell, under the direction of senior al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan, were arrested while planning to build a bomb. That plot was part of a wider al Qaeda effort to attack targets in the US, UK, and Norway. Senior al Qaeda leaders have also repeatedly threatened Norway because of its role in the Afghan war.
While the near simultaneous nature of the attack, with a large bomb followed shortly after by a shooting spree at a youth camp, fits the modus operandi of jihadist groups, other details of the plot may not. Quoting from the Norwegian press, MSNBC cites Tore Bjorgo, a professor at Norwegian Police University College, as noting that the youth camp would be an odd target for international jihadists. For Bjorgo, the choice of that target suggested a more local motive. “I have consistently kept the possibility open that this might be the extreme right,” Bjorgo told Norway’s NRK.
MSNBC is also reporting that Norway’s largest television broadcaster has identified Breivik as belonging to “right-wing extremist groups in eastern Norway.”
Thus far, Norwegian authorities have fingered Breivik as the lone alleged attacker, suggesting that he was behind both the bomb in Oslo as well as the shooting spree. The attacks may have killed upwards of 80 people, according to the latest estimates.
The story continues to evolve and new details will undoubtedly emerge in the coming days.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal. Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.