Update: A mistyped date has been corrected. Thank you, jon.
It has now been three weeks since Anders Behring Breivik carried out his atrocities in downtown Oslo and on the island of Utøya. In the interim millions of words have been written about the psychopathic killer and his manifesto, but surprisingly little has emerged about his possible accomplices and co-conspirators.
There were some tantalizing hints in his manifesto about other “cells” with which he claimed to be connected. There was an initial report — hastily withdrawn — that the owner of a Polish chemical company had been arrested for supplying Mr. Breivik with some of the components for his bombs. Articles appeared in the Russian press describing the killer’s paramilitary training at a secret camp in Belarus (more on this in later posts).
The media, however, obviously prefer a loner who planned and carried out the attacks entirely on his own. If any accomplices were to emerge, they might well fail to fit the “right-wing Christian extremist” narrative into which Western governments and the press have shoehorned the incident. Given that virtually all the experts on building fertilizer bombs are found in groups like Al Qaeda, a wider conspiracy could be expected to have a non-zero Mohammed Coefficient — so who would want to go there?
Anders Behring Breivik may have executed his crime on his own, or he may have had help. If his actions were part of a larger plot, it might indeed have been a right-wing nationalist conspiracy of like-minded individuals who possessed the same lack of moral compunction. Or it could have been a “false-flag” operation, designed to demoralize and discredit everyone who resists the Islamization of the West, tarring us all with the “violent hater” brush.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter, because the effect on our movement is the same. Western governments and the media have now joined hands in a concerted effort to take down the Counterjihad.
If Anders Behring Breivik acted alone, or if he simply worked in company with one or more co-conspirators who shared his opinions and his psychopathology, this would be a boring essay, and could be ended right here.
So, just for the sake of argument, let’s assume not only that he had accomplices, but that he was in fact a “weaponized psychopath” who was discovered, cultivated, and trained by an as-yet unidentified organization for the express purpose of discrediting anti-jihad activists and politicians, and halting any effective resistance to the Islamization of Europe.
Such an operation seems highly unlikely, and Mr. Breivik is probably exactly what he seems to be. However, there are still loose ends to the case — tantalizing hints of outside complicity, and some intriguing coincidences.
Mr. Breivik’s 1500-page English-language manifesto has been analyzed in great detail. Its references have been identified and its sources enumerated. But what about the language itself? Much of the text was borrowed or plagiarized from other sources, but there was also extensive original writing. What can we tell from the spelling, vocabulary, syntax, and style of this enormous work?
After six years of editing prose for publication, I have learned to spot the signs of English written by non-native speakers. Sometimes the native language (or language group) of the writer can be identified by certain characteristic mistakes.
Mr. Breivik was clearly not a native speaker of English. On page 1211 of his manifesto he wrote:
The fall, or more specifically the partition, of the US is imminent and will occur within 2025 at the earliest. The primary reason for this implosion is that the US won the economical cold war but lost the cultural cold war due to weak leadership. [emphasis added]
The misuse of prepositions — which are often the parts of speech that are most difficult to master in a foreign language — is a sign of a non-native speaker. The fact that the author wrote “within” instead of “during” or “in” is a sign that English is not his first language. Furthermore, the use of “economical” instead of “economic” is a characteristic of Scandinavian writers — I often have to correct the same misuse of the word when editing translations by Danes, Swedes, or Norwegians.
Strangely enough, the lengthy introduction to the manifesto is written in more fluent English, and seems generally indistinguishable from the prose of a native speaker. The writing is not up to professional standards, but much of it reads as if it were written by someone who had English as his first language.
And, significantly, it is American English. I did some word searches in the document on standard American spellings (e.g. “-ization”, “color”, “labeled”) and found Americanisms to be predominant. Some of those are undoubtedly derived from the quoted material, but some are also in the author’s own prose. The manifesto is mostly written in American English.
Strangely enough, the same was not true back in 2008, when Anders Behring Breivik left a couple of comments here at Gates of Vienna. Not only did his prose show characteristics indicating that it was written by a non-native speaker, it also used British spellings.
British spellings are the norm for Scandinavians who write in English. The vast majority of them learn British English in school, speak with a British accent (under their Scandinavian one), and use British spellings. In 2008 Anders Breivik was writing the sort of prose I would expect from a Norwegian with a decent command of British English.
Yet by July 2011, he was writing large swaths of text in fluent American English.
What’s going on here?
So much for linguistic analysis. What about the content of the manifesto?
A striking feature of Mr. Breivik’s preferred reading is that so much of it was American. If you omit the references to Fjordman and Document.no, the sources for what he wrote are predominantly American or Canadian — Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Mark Steyn, and a number of others. And not all his favorite writers are internationally famous. He cites Rod Dreher and Frank Gaffney, for example — two writers who are familiar to most American conservatives, yet would be all but unknown to most Europeans.
It’s very strange that a Norwegian nationalist who had so little regard for the United States would find much of his inspiration from American authors.
Other parts of American culture also dominate his writings — movies, television programs, video games, and so on. Was this just the working out of his own natural interests? Or did something else lead him to all that American material?
Despite its focus on the rescue of Western Europe, much of Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto reads as if it were written by an American for an American audience.
Before we delve any further into the Americanization of Anders Behring Breivik, let’s detour into a timeline of his internet activity. Based on the available evidence, Mr. Breivik became active on the internet no later than 2007. Most of his online postings, however, were in 2009 and 2010.
The only place he commented on a regular basis for an extended period of time was Document.no, which translated his entire corpus of comments into English (of varying quality) just after July 22. The archive is posted here.
There were some seventy-five comments made by Anders Behring Breivik at Document.no, using the alias “Anders B”. They are now disconnected from the articles they originally accompanied, for technical reasons: Document.no revamped its entire system on November 24, 2010. Comments before that date still exist, but cannot easily be connected to the articles they were originally assigned to.
Document.no described Mr. Breivik’s online activities here, noting that he seems to have systematically exaggerated his abilities and connections, and that they saw no meaningful reason to be in touch with him. They had but a single direct email from him.
The last of his comments was entered on Oct. 29th, 2010.
Some commentators have speculated that Mr. Breivik may have become dissatisfied with online Counterjihad forums, due to their unwillingness to share his radical views about what needed to be done. For that reason, the theory goes, he abandoned his online activity as he prepared his deadly plans for Oslo.
But could there have been another reason for his sudden departure from the internet forums?
By coincidence, on November 3, 2010, just five days after the killer’s last comment at Document.no, the Norwegian broadcaster TV2 aired an exposé of a decade-long surveillance operation, the Surveillance Detection Unit (SDU) conducted by the American embassy in Oslo:
TV2 reported on its nightly national newscast Wednesday that the US Embassy, “in deepest secrecy,” built up a surveillance unit in Oslo over the past decade that systematically has kept hundreds of Norwegians under surveillance. Many of the Norwegians ultimately have unwittingly landed in a US terror register and likely will remain there for 25 years.
The embassy’s organization, called “Surveillance Detection Unit,” reportedly was set up in the spring of 2000 and operated from the sixth floor of the office building known as Handelsbygningen at Solli Plass, just a few hundred meters up the street from the embassy’s location on Henrik Ibsens Gate. After TV2 started asking questions, the unit reportedly was moved to a new, secret location where it remains in operation.
The unit reportedly has employed as many as 20 persons including retired Norwegian police and former military and intelligence experts. TV2 said it had identified around seven of the Norwegians working for the Americans.
Bjørn Erik Thon, head of the Norwegian agency that regulates surveillance in Norway (Datatilsynet), told TV2 that he’d never seen anything like the embassy-run operation in Norway. “I think it’s very serious that something like this can be conducted on Norwegian territory and that it’s Norwegian citizens carrying out the work,” Thon said.
The revelations caused a tremendous scandal in Norway that continued for several months. Current and past political leaders insisted that the embassy had never informed them about SDU, yet the United States maintained that it had consulted with the Norwegian authorities over the surveillance. The former police officers and intelligence agents employed by the embassy were prevented from talking to Norwegian officials by a confidentiality agreement signed as a condition of their employment.
The following week the parliamentary justice committee called for an investigation into the SDU. Under extreme pressure, the embassy said it had informed a police chief about what it was doing, but it was not clear which chief was referred to, and all denied having been so informed. Most importantly, the Norwegian security police (PST) said they had known nothing about the surveillance.
On November 28, a batch of WikiLeaks cables from the American embassy in Oslo was released, including some non-detailed references to the SDU program. The publicity around the WikiLeaks revelations helped keep the scandal in the headlines well into December. The American ambassador insisted that what had been done was “standard procedure”, and should continue. At the same time, he continued his refusal to allow his Norwegian employees to discuss the case with investigators.
Much later the embassy was said to have waived their right to prevent the employees from testifying. The investigation continued into this year, but the furor around it subsided.
Finally, many months later, the investigation was quietly dropped:
The case of closet surveillance by the American Embassy in Oslo seems to have been quietly dropped almost a year following the WikiLeaks revelations.
Since the announcement of the spying scandal nothing more appears to have happened.
Norway’s Prosecuting Authority now says the matter has been dropped.
The investigation was abandoned on July 30th, 2011 — barely a week after the killings in Oslo and on Utøya.
Although none of the articles about SDU mentions the CIA, it’s all but certain that CIA employees stationed at the embassy were responsible for the surveillance. It was acknowledged that agents were sometimes armed, which was not the normal procedure for embassy personnel, and many people assumed that there was more going on than just routine surveillance to ensure the safety of the embassy.
Some of the indications:
- The unit had more people than usual.
- They were focused on counter-terrorism.
- There were other intelligence services involved.
- They went to rallies and took photos.
- They were pressuring Norway for lists of all terrorists, and Norway had not been cooperating.
Looking at it from one angle, this was normal behavior — the CIA was trying to do its job. But were they were also running some other type of operation?
If they weren’t, then shouldn’t the Norwegians ask them why they didn’t pick up on Anders Breivik? After all, he was a right-winger who communicated extensively in the English language. Shouldn’t the CIA’s surveillance have detected him?
These are the dots, but there is no clear connection among them — several coincidences, some fascinating possibilities, but no hard data. We are left with hypothesis and conjecture.
From the very beginning, Anders Behring Breivik and his manifesto seemed too good to be true, from the perspective of anyone who wished to destroy the Counterjihad movement. His “weaponization” was aligned exactly with current politically correct conditions, guaranteeing a storm that would do maximum damage to those who oppose Islamization.
There’s no way to determine how much of the “original” writings in the manifesto were written by Mr. Breivik himself. All we know is that for some reason his document focused on American sources, seemed to overemphasize American opinions and culture, and was written in an American style. When the manifesto is analyzed objectively, the American connection seems obvious.
Even so, it is inconceivable that the CIA (or the Norwegian intelligence services) would ever deliberately unleash a car bomber on downtown Oslo as a form of political manipulation. They are not so cynical and ruthless as to engineer that sort of operation.
However, there are other possible players, and other possible agendas. Further speculation on this topic will be left for later posts in this series.