Thursday 8 December 2016

Police failed to recognise the dangers posed by right-wing terrorists

Martin Evans in Oslo

Published 25/07/2011 | 05:00

This screen grab of an undated photograph on Facebook. com shows the central suspect of the Norway terror attacks, named by sources as Anders Behring Breivik. Photo: Getty Images
This screen grab of an undated photograph on Facebook. com shows the central suspect of the Norway terror attacks, named by sources as Anders Behring Breivik. Photo: Getty Images

Norwegian police may have failed to take the danger of terrorist attacks by right-wing extremists seriously, despite a report in March warning of a growing threat.

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The Norwegian Police Security Service published a report earlier this year stating that "a higher degree of activism in groups hostile to Islam may lead to an increased use of violence".

It noted that activity in extremist groups had risen steadily during 2010 and 2011. However, it concluded that there was little chance of a terror attack from the nation's anti-Muslim fringe.

Most resources were still directed against the risk from jihadist groups, and little appears to have been done to combat the new danger from the far right.

Scandinavia has suffered a series of attacks and plots in recent years, many linked to Muslim anger with cartoons published in Denmark in 2005 which were condemned by Muslims across the world who considered them to mock the Prophet Mohammed.

Last year, plotters who allegedly planned to murder journalists were arrested in Denmark, and a suicide bomber blew himself up in Sweden in an attempt to murder Christmas shoppers.

Anti-Islamic feeling has been on the rise and fear of immigration has grown in recent years, giving a new chance to far-right groups, which have always been tiny in Norway, although neo-Nazis have been a feature of Swedish politics for years.

The attacks by Anders Behring Breivik appear to have come as a complete shock to Norway's security forces, although there is growing evidence that they were were planned for several years.

Despite his mass killing spree, the maximum sentence Breivik could be handed by a court is just 21 years.

Under the Norwegian justice system, an indeterminate sentence is known as "containment" and is set officially at no more than 21 years, regardless of the scale of the crime.

A prisoner is required to spend at least 10 years in custody before becoming eligible for parole.

However, it is technically possible for an offender to effectively serve a life sentence.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said the atrocity was the worst crime since World War Two and signalled in its immediate aftermath that the country's penal system may have to be examined.

Hero

Meanwhile, a German tourist has been hailed as a hero after sailing straight into the line of gunfire to save up to 30 lives during the massacre in Norway.

Marcel Gleffe was the first to race to the island of Utoya, where more than 500 young people were attending a summer camp organised by AUF, the youth wing of the ruling Labour Party, as Breivik opened fire.

Mr Gleffe, who was at a holiday campsite on the mainland, raced to his boat and took to the water immediately after hearing the shots and seeing plumes of smoke on the horizon.

As the names of some of the young victims began to emerge, he told how he had rescued scores of teenagers.

"I just did it on instinct," he said. "You don't get scared in a situation like that, you just do what it takes.

"Co-operation with the police and rescue crews afterwards was very good, but it all came too late. The first time I was out, I was all alone." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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