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Frequently asked questions

Here we have gathered the questions we most frequently meet in our classroom and from visitors in the exhibitions.

Close-up of a hand in the air
A student has a hand up for questions in the 22 July Centre

Questions and answers

The terrorist had considered several targets during his planning period. The choice of terror targets is related to his ideology and who he identified as "traitors," namely the Labour Party and, by extension, the AUF (the youth organization affiliated with the Labour Party). We often say that Breivik attacked the Labour Party's present (as the ruling party), future (youth politicians), and past (the party's policies over the years, personified by Gro Harlem Brundtland). Two terror targets would also, according to the terrorist's assessments, ensure the greatest possible damage and therefore attention.

He had previously considered other terror targets but chose them away for various reasons. At one point, he considered attacking journalists at the SKUP conference, but also the the royal palace (when the king was not there), and the Labour party annual meeting.

We know many have heard it, but it's not true. Both attacks were carefully planned terror targets. The attack in the Government Quarter was targeted at the High-rise building, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg from the Labour Party, and those who were working for the politicians and for our society to function, namely bureaucrats. This can be read in both the 22 July verdict, the 22 July commission report, and in the terrorist's own explanations. He has claimes that the Government Quarter was the primary goal.

Yes. Eight were killed, nine were seriously injured, and over 300 sustained minor physical injuries. Many suffered psychological injuries as a result of the attack, such as PTSD, which manifests in symptoms including difficulty concentrating, lack of sleep, and panic attacks. This also applied to some who were not in the Government Quarter but who would usually have been there or who had family and friends in the area.

Breivik compiled a document, a compendium, with right-wing extremist messages. He used texts written by various right-wing extremist authors and bloggers. The compendium is divided into three parts, with the different parts addressing (1) selective composition of European history, (2) his ideological mindset, and (3) his advice to other terrorists with a sort of interview of himself.

Breivik believes in the Eurabia conspiracy theory. In short, it states that some European politicians, academics, journalists, and others collaborate with so-called Muslim leaders to Islamize Europe. In Norway, the Labour Party is accused of this collaboration.

In the compendium, Breivik writes, among other things, that he wanted to execute those he saw as "quislings," that is, traitors. For Breivik, it is the Labour Party or so-called "cultural Marxists." Breivik did not directly attack Muslims, as Philip Manshaus did in 2019, because he did not want to evoke sympathy for Muslims. He wrote this himself in the compendium.

However, the terror attack can still be considered an attack against Norwegian Muslims because the terrorist is highly anti-Muslim and wants Muslims deported from Norway in his ideal society.

In the compendium, Breivik writes that women and men cannot be equal as they have naturally different roles. Breivik is concerned with strict conservative and Christian ideas/values, and believes that women's place is in the home with the role of wife and mother, as he believes it was before. The compendium also describes a society entirely without women, where birthing machines can function as a replacement.

He is generally against gender equality and believes it has led to a "feminization" of men, which he believes creates weak societies that, in turn, cannot resist the alleged "ongoing Islamization."

Breivik chose this day partly because Gro Harlem Brundtland was supposed to be at Utøya and the AUF summer camp. He had previously considered other terror targets but chose them away for various reasons.

He claims to be a member of a group called the Knights Templar. The police conducted many investigations but found no traces or evidence of the existence of such a group.

The Knights Templar are recurring in Breivik's ideology. In the compendium, Breivik attempts to depict a supposed ongoing war between Christianity/the West and Islam/the East. To explain this, he uses selected parts of stories about the medieval crusades where knights were well-known participants.

In each trial, Breivik has mentioned new and unknown groups he claims to be a part of. At the same time, he highlights some established groups, such as the Nordic Resistance Movement, The Alliance, and SIAN (Stop the Islamization of Norway), as his ideological allies.

It's difficult to say how "smart" or "not smart" Breivik is. But we know he planned the attack over several years. If a person devotes all their time, over a long period, to one thing, the chances of achieving what they are trying to do increase.

Surrendering without resistance increases the chances of being apprehended alive. Breivik wanted to be apprehended alive because he wanted to participate in his own trial to advance his cause. He called twice to surrender but continued to shoot and kill people after he had made the calls.

Breivik was sentenced to 21 years of preventive detention with a minimum term of ten years. This was the strictest sentence possible when the trial took place in 2012. The minimum term means that after ten years in prison, Breivik could apply for parole, which he did, leading to a new trial. Breivik can apply for parole every two years, and there will be a new trial on this in June 2024.

Preventive detention means that a sentence does not have a fixed endpoint, but the convicted person - after serving the minimum term - is assessed based on security criteria every five years. For example, if the court finds that Breivik still appears to be dangerous (that there is a possibility of repeating something similar to what he is serving for) after serving 21 years, the sentence can be extended by up to five years. Breivik, on his part, can apply for parole every two years after serving the minimum term.

We don't know the answer to that, but we don't think he will be out for a very, very long time. As long as those who can assess it believe that he is dangerous to society, he will remain in prison. The severity of his actions also suggests that he will remain in prison for a very long time, if not for the rest of his life.

In the trials after 2012, it has been revealed that the involved authorities; healthcare personnel and the prison service, consider Breivik to still be dangerous. He poses a threat in various ways, including as an inspiration to other terrorists. Health assessments of his mental health are important for security assessments. Breivik still expresses many of the same extreme views as he did in the compendium and during the 2012 trial.

Breivik has sued the state for violations of human rights for what he believes are inhumane prison conditions. He has had some points upheld, and the prison conditions have been improved, but he has also been denied with security concerns cited as a reason.

Breivik has the same rights as other inmates in Norwegian prisons, and the prison service aims for rehabilitation (which means improving oneself and being able to return to society without being a threat). In prison, efforts are made to both meet Breivik's human rights and some specific needs, but adjustments are also made based on security assessments.

Breivik is in solitary confinement, which is considered among the toughest prison conditions to live under.

Extensive assessments of Breivik's mental state were conducted during the trial following the terrorist attack. Several experts in forensic psychology were allowed to share their assessments. The experts did not agree on everything, but Breivik was deemed to be of sound mind. This means they believe he was not psychotic when he carried out the terrorist attack.

Read more here.

The answer is both yes and no. He has changed some of his opinions, but not to a great extent. In the trials so far, Breivik has stated that he does not regret what he has done. He still holds many of the same enemies. In addition to being anti-Muslim, he has also expressed anti-Semitic attitudes. Breivik sympathizes with neo-Nazi groups, and researchers have characterized his views as fascist.

In the 2024 trial, Breivik talked about the Nordic Resistance Movement and SIAN as his ideological allies.

It is difficult to draw sharp boundaries between right-wing extremist groups as they sometimes share the same enemies. For example, Breivik uses much of the thinking of the Eurabia theorist Bat Ye’or, who is herself Jewish, while also wanting to collaborate with neo-Nazi groups. Breivik is still considered to be at the extreme end of the right-wing extremist spectrum.

The terrorist himself uses both Anders Behring Breivik and Fjotolf Hansen.

Several have pointed out that Fjotolf can be rearranged to Adolf by pairing two and two letters, and that the last name can be abbreviated to H. The name is said to be a reference to Adolf Hitler. Breivik has not explained this himself.

He calls himself Anders Behring Breivik in the trials that have taken place after the name change.