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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 22nd April 2016 > PRESENT DANGER

PRESENT DANGER

IS ANDERS BREIVIK STILL A THREAT TO EUROPE?

He waited eagerly for one of the four guards who stood next to him to unlock his handcuffs. He looked around to see who was in the gym: two dozen journalists and some prison officials. And then he looked in the direction of the journalists and raised his right arm in a Nazi salute. Breivik kept it there for nine long seconds. One of his two lawyers already had her back to the man who murdered 77 Norwegians on July 22, 2011. The second turned away as soon as he saw Breivik’s arm go up.

Breivik’s gaze was focused not on the people in the courtroom last month; he was looking at the cameras. Instantly, pictures and live footage of his Nazi salute were transmitted to news agencies around the world and shared online. Like his media-savvy brethren in the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), the 37-year-old Norwegian extremist, who wants to establish a party called the Nordic State, has long known that he needs to shock to get the world’s attention. “I was wondering how many people I needed to kill to be read,” he said after he had committed his acts of violence in 2011. He had calculated that he had to kill a dozen people to be noticed. He ended up killing many more; 33 of his victims were under 18.

Breivik later described his massacre as his “book launch.” In a way, he was right: No one had been interested in reading his polemics before he placed a bomb outside the prime minister’s office in downtown Oslo and later that day shot teenagers at a Labor Party youth camp on the island of Utøya, an hour’s drive from the capital. Only then did thousands of people read, discuss and comment on his 1,500-page manifesto.

LONE WOLF: Breivik is suing, claiming that keeping him in isolation violates his rights; authorities insist it is necessary because he is determined to recruit prisoners to his cause.
FROM LEFT: LISE ASERUD/EPA; ESPEN RASMUSSEN/PANOS; PREVIOUS SPREAD: HAKON MOSVOLD LARSEN/REUTERS

Breivik has not forgotten the power that comes from sparking outrage. This appearance in court in mid-March was not an appeal against his conviction; Breivik was suing the Norwegian state, claiming it was violating his human rights by holding him in isolation and preventing him from freely communicating with the outside world. The Norwegian authorities argue that he remains a threat and that solitary confinement is necessary to prevent him from inspiring or directing right-wing extremists eager to commit their own atrocities.

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Is Anders Breivik still a threat to Europe?
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