Note:This text was initially written in Norwegian and then translated into English, but since most of the readers are non-Scandinavians, the English version will be presented here first.
Denne teksten ble skrevet på norsk og oversatt til engelsk, men siden de fleste av leserne er ikke-skandinaver har jeg valgt å presentere den engelske versjonen først, fulgt av den norske.
In 2012 I was subpoenaed as a witness for the trial against the mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik by his defense lawyers. Until the beginning of June I seriously considered saying yes to testifying on the Internet but eventually rejected this. One of the reasons for this is that I intensely disliked the way the defense lawyers had mistreated a number of people, trying to harass them into testifying without informing them that they actually did not have a legal obligation to testify at all. I find this behavior rude and unethical.
I also found it unacceptable that certain expert witnesses weredefined as “right-wing extremists” whose testimonies could not be broadcast. This was stated by the court itself, represented by judges Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen and Arne Lyng plus co-judges Ernst Henning Eielsen, Anne Elisabeth Wisløff and Diana Patricia Fynbo.
In essence, this implied that the testimonies of pro-Multicultural and pro-Islamic persons could be broadcast, whereas those critical of Multiculturalism and Islam, such as myself and Bruce Bawer, could not be broadcast. This represented naked political and ideological censorship by the court, which is unacceptable.
I did have a number of things that I wanted to convey to the public, however. I have therefore decided to publish a testimony online that I would have liked to have given. I received a few questions from Breivik’s defense lawyers indicating that they wanted to ask me about censorship and bias in the mass media. My short answer to this is that yes, there is censorship in the mainstream media, which generally suffer from a pronounced left-wing political and ideological bias in favor of Islam, mass immigration and Multiculturalism.
However, I do not want to make that the main issue. It is unlikely that I would have been able to present a testimony identical to the one you can read here since I would have been interrupted and asked different questions. Yet I do believe that many of the issues I raise here are relevant to the Breivik case overall.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
My real name is Peder Jensen. I have posted articles on the Internet under the pseudonym Fjordman since February 2005. I initially started writing articles on my own blog, but from 2006 I have guest-blogged on other websites, usually in English, although some of my texts have been translated into several different languages.
I was born and raised in Ålesund. I am a university graduate having studied English, taking exams in history with an emphasis on Norwegian history, world history, Middle Eastern and Chinese history. I began studying the Arabic language at the University of Bergen, Norway and continued with these studies at the American University of Cairo in Egypt in 2001.
I worked for the Norwegian-led observer group TIPH in the Palestinian city of Hebron in 2002 and most of 2003. This was partly coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but I was formally employed by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), then led by the current party secretary of the Norwegian Labor Party, Raymond Johansen. One of my bosses in Hebron was Arnstein Øverkil, former head of the Police Security Service (PST). I took a master’s degree at the University of Oslo in culture and technology in 2004, writing a master’s thesis on blogging in Iran.
I have entertained the idea of taking a PhD in topics related to Internet censorship, but I haven’t pursued this idea so far. I deliberately decided not to embark on a career in the NRC, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or similar organizations, partly for political reasons. I had become highly critical of Islam and found it increasingly difficult to work for organizations which I found to be too pro-Islamic.
There are many decent people working for the NRC who do a good job, but the organization’s condemnation of the Danish Muhammad cartoons made it virtually impossible for me to continue working for them. I interpreted their response to this incident as a clear submission to sharia law, Islamic intimidation and censorship, and I couldn’t accept that.
What was your reaction to the July 22 attacks? You decided to contact the Norwegian police?
At the time of the attacks, in the summer of 2011, I was working part-time at a center for individuals with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome. This was a decent job with decent individuals, but as a part-time job it also gave me the flexibility to focus on my writing while at the same time paying the most basic bills. The people I worked with there knew absolutely nothing about my blogging activities.
I was living in Oslo on July 22. By July 23, literally overnight, I had become the country’s second-most hated person due to the actions of a mentally unbalanced man I have never met. This was an absurd situation that was very difficult to handle. Some of my friends advised me to leave Norway immediately, but I considered this to be cowardice. People who run away also tend to look guilty, and I had done nothing criminal.
After discussing it with friends and family, I decided to contact the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST). I physically visited their national headquarter in Nydalen in Oslo on July 27, where I introduced myself by my real name. They told me that they were busy and asked me instead to send them an email, which I did. They then referred me to the regular police.
After consulting with my lawyers at the law firm of Staff, I voluntarily reported at the Manglerud Police Station in Oslo on August 4, 2011 accompanied by attorney Knut Ditlev-Simonsen. At that time neither the police authorities nor the Norwegian mass media had the slightest idea who I was, even though police attorney Kraby claimed otherwise.The first meeting was turbulent. I considered it reasonable that the police wanted to interview me, considering that some of my texts had been cited in Breivik’s manifesto. However, I still don’t believe the police attorneys Christian Hatlo and Pål-Fredrik Hjort Kraby had the legal right to ransack the home of a witness who had not been charged with anything, without having any shred of evidence suggesting that this person had committed a crime. The fact that someone had been quoted in the manifesto only proved that Anders Behring Breivik was among the billions of individuals on the planet who had access to the Internet. Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy were quoted in his manifesto, too.
I was questioned by the Norwegian police a second time in November. This interview did not take place in Oslo. The clothes which had been confiscated during the ransacking of my flat were finally returned to me. I was also informed, after first having answered some further questions, that I had been eliminated from the case on account of the fact that I had been honest from the onset. I have never met Breivik, nor did he know my true identity before it became publicly known.
The only indirect contact between us existed on the Norwegian blog Document.no, where we and many others regularly posted comments. He once made an attempt there to contact me via email. I was not interested in meeting him, however, and politely rejected his advances. In this regard, it is important to remember that Breivik did not write violent comments.
It is unclear whether Breivik is insane, but few people doubt that he at least has a personality disorder and sometimes evidences psychopathic behavior. In the mind of a psychopath, every rejection or slight to your own person, however small, can be seen as an attack that must be revenged.
I indicated to the Norwegian police in 2011 that I have no knowledge of a terrorist organization such as the Knights Templar and strongly doubt its existence. Also, it is doubtful that such a hypothetical organization, if it had existed, would have been particularly interested in an individual without higher education, military experience, practical expertise or a political network of any significant value to them. Breivik’s self-centered personality would also make such cooperation difficult. It’s satisfying to observe that the police, after having investigated the matter for almost a year, appear to have reached the same conclusion.
Have you read Breivik’s compendium or manifesto? If so, what is your impression of it and its content?
At the time I was interviewed by the police in the autumn of 2011 I had not read it. However, I decided to read it in the spring of 2012, mainly because of rumors circulating that I might have to testify at the trial, but partly because I was toying with the idea of writing a book about the Breivik case. I finished reading the manifesto a week before the trial began. I read the whole text (as found on the Internet) from start to finish, and took notes while I was reading it. I must emphasize that I have not performed a detailed analysis of the entire manifesto, however. I see no reason to do so — that should be a task for the police.
What is your general impression of the manifesto?
Breivik’s so-called manifesto can only be described as utter rubbish. There are certain texts within it which seen in isolation appear as logically coherent, but that is purely due to the fact that Breivik himself didn’t write them. Generally speaking, it’s a remarkably incoherent text, a confused product of a very confused mind. The compendium is extremely poorly edited and excessively long. It is scarcely credible that Breivik supposedly spent years working on it.
The first part of the manifesto appears reasonably coherent, but only because it cites or reproduces texts from a number of Islam-critical authors, including Robert Spencer, Bat Ye’or and Andrew G. Bostom. The second half is dramatically and at times shockingly different, with descriptions of methods for committing mass murder interspersed with meaningless scribbles about the Knights Templars, and almost embarrassingly banal personal details about what type of music Breivik listens to on his portable iPod player. The manifesto includes a list of European nuclear reactors as potential terrorist targets, plus meticulous diary notes made by Breivik in the spring of 2011 on how to make one’s own bomb.
The compendium claims that the Chernobyl accident in 1986 was a terrorist attack. It’s unclear where this idea originated, since this theory is fairly uncommon even on the Internet.
The manifesto includes discussions about what type of personal equipment and weapons are best suited for executions. It is obvious that Breivik cannot have copied this from me, Robert Spencer or Bat Ye’or, as we have never written anything about such topics. However, he does quote from many different websites, among which the Internet-based encyclopedia Wikipedia is most prominent. The extent to which he has quoted from Wikipedia in his compendium came as a surprise to me when I was reading it. There has been comparatively little focus on this issue in the mass media. There are dozens of references to Wikipedia in the manifesto, including those sections of it dealing with weapons, ammunition, grenades and armor.
The importance of Wikipedia as a source is plausible, given that the mass murderer himself stated during the trial that Wikipedia had been his primary source of education. To label Breivik the Wikipedia terrorist may be a slight exaggeration, but it is not entirely without merit.
Another noticeable fact is that in some parts of the manifesto his English is good but in other sections it is noticeably poorer. Breivik makes grammatical mistakes in several parts of the manifesto, for example singular-plural errors of the type “they thinks that ….,” which are of such a basic character that even an automatic spelling checker, such as the one found in the popular Word program, could have weeded them out. If Breivik really spent many years working on this manifesto — which he claims will save our civilization — it’s hard to understand why he couldn’t invest a few extra minutes running it through a simple spell-check. It almost seems that the content of the manifesto was of secondary importance to him.
Combined with its absurd length — over 1500 pages, for which there is no rational justification — one is left with the impression that the primary function of the manifesto is to highlight Breivik’s imaginary greatness as a human being.
Is it true that you are cited in the manifesto? If so, what are your thoughts on that?
I have always written what I hold to be the truth, even when this truth may be considered unpleasant. I will do so in this case, too. The so-called manifesto cites and abuses numerous honorable people, from Winston Churchill and John Locke to George Orwell and Gandhi. Some of the most militant quotes, excluding those written by Breivik himself, originate from two former presidents of the USA, Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy.
Among this strange array of texts one will also find quotes from articles that I have written, and in some cases entire essays. I have not analyzed the manifesto in detail and don’t intend to do so, but I can confirm that it contains passages that I recognize and have written. Like much of the other content, these were copied from texts that are available on the Internet in English.
You have described Breivik’s manifesto as strange. What do you mean by that?
By that I mean that the text is a mixture of widely disparate sources arranged in a way that is unlikely to make much sense to anybody apart from Breivik himself. Several experts from different disciplines have pointed out that it is difficult to find any clear internal logic or common thread in the manifesto, which points in many different ideological directions.
One of the few things the author is consistent about is that he’s not a Nazi. Yet during the trial, Breivik repeatedly praised well-known neo-Nazis, and indicated that “cultural conservatives” are identical to the Axis powers during World War II — in other words, Nazi Germany and its allies. He is also an anti-racist who believes that race is important and an anti-Socialist who speaks highly of revolutionary Socialists such as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. It’s difficult to criticize Breivik’s ideology because it’s difficult to discern that he has any at all, apart from a strong fascination for violence and a remarkably pronounced desire to highlight his own person.
Early on during the trial, Breivik indicated that his role models are all people who use violence, regardless of their ideology — international and national Socialists as well as militant Muslims. In the case of Anders Behring Breivik, there is reason to suspect that violence is not a means to achieve a specific end, but rather that violence is the end in itself.
Are there many people who support Breivik’s violent actions?
Brynjar Lia, a senior researcher at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, and one of the least politicized witnesses during the trial, pointed out that what distinguishes Breivik from other terrorists is the total lack of context. Even the most brutal Al Qaeda Jihadists are trying to reach out to ordinary Muslims through their acts of violence.
Breivik on the other hand has received virtually no sympathy at all from any groups, regardless of political color, with the possible exception of some very marginal groups of actual neo-Nazis. If his goal was to trigger a major social upheaval, he has so far been a complete failure in this regard. This may be due to the fact that his world view is so deviant and far removed from actual reality that he is genuinely incapable of understanding other people’s reactions, or that his acts of violence were mostly about gaining personal attention — or possibly both.
It is questionable to what extent Breivik can be considered a rational individual. To the extent that he is one, though, one may argue that he has reached one of his goals. The American writer Daniel Pipes — one of many individuals who have been grossly misused in the so-called manifesto — hypothesized early on that Breivik’s intention may have been to damage those that he quoted in his compendium precisely because they are not violent. Among other things, he mentions there that his limited involvement with the Progress Party in Oslo will probably be used against that party in public. Breivik actually liked this idea.
This theory has been considerably strengthened by the fact that Breivik stated openly and repeatedly during the trial that he wanted to unleash with his actions and his manifesto a “witch-hunt” on moderate voices and non-violent critics of Islam and immigration. Unfortunately, he has at times been quite successful in his efforts. In this regard, most of the mass media and the political establishment have essentially acted as Breivik’s useful idiots from day one.
Breivik likes to portray himself as a great military leader who follows in the footsteps of Charles Martel in a quest to restore traditional masculinity. What is your take on this?
People such as Charles Martel and John III Sobieski showed personal courage by confronting heavily armed hostile military forces on the battlefield when both parties knew fully well that they were engaged in a war. Anders Behring Breivik massacred unarmed civilians of his own nation who were totally unprepared for battle. He’s just a cowardly butcher. Traditional masculinity also emphasizes protecting your women and children, not massacring them.
When I was 14 or 15 years old — the same age as the youngest victims on Utøya — I attended meetings of the youth wing of the Socialist Left Party, which is ideologically to the left of AUF. Breivik would also have killed me when I was that age.
Is it true that Breivik’s world view is common among anti-Islamists?
Several so-called expert witnesses, including Terje Emberland, Mattias Gardell, Lars Gule and Øyvind Strømmen, have suggested that Breivik’s world view is quite common among anti-Islamists and Islam critics. This is utter nonsense.
However, it is legitimate to point out that for instance Gardell has openly cooperated with representatives from the Islamic Jihadist terrorist organization Hamas, and that Anders Behring Breivik has repeatedly expressed his great admiration for Islamic Jihadist terrorist organizations.
Breivik is routinely referred to as an “anti-Islamist”, especially among those who do not like such people. It is clear, however, based on both his manifesto and his comments from the trial, that Breivik harbors great admiration for Islamic Jihadist terrorists such as the terror network Al Qaeda, which he sees as a role model for his violence. Considering that the Islamic Jihadist terrorists find inspiration for their actions in Islamic religious texts such as the Koran, one might argue that one of Breivik’s indirect sources of inspiration for his violent acts was the Koran.
His notions of becoming a “martyr” through mass killing are strongly influenced by Islamic beliefs, which he freely admits in the manifesto. Given his fascination with violence, terrorism and videos of beheadings, Breivik demonstrates such an obvious kinship with Muslim Jihadists that it should surprise no one if he converts to Islam while behind bars.
One does not need to be in the slightest bit insane to be concerned about the consequences of the current immigration policies in many Western nations, which could see many native Europeans turned into minorities in a number of their own countries within a few years.
Breivik’s possible madness may be observed in his deeply warped notions about the Knights Templar, which organization probably doesn’t exist. He talked at length about the KT in interviews with the police and in conversations with his first court-appointed psychiatrists, and only changed his explanations of this matter after he was declared insane. One may disagree with the first pair of forensic psychiatrists, Torgeir Husby and Synne Sørheim, but the fact remains that the organization Knights Templar appears very real and central to those parts of the manifesto that Breivik most likely authored himself. This was certainly not a peripheral idea in his mind.
In his manifesto, Breivik presented himself as “judge, jury and executioner,” which partly describes the way he actually behaved when he committed his mass murders. This concept was most likely taken from a comic strip called Judge Dredd, which has also been made into films. In other words, Anders Behring Breivik identifies with a fictional cartoon character. Some observers might propose that this could be interpreted as a sign of serious detachment from reality on the part of a man who apparently has trouble distinguishing between his own fictional world and the real world.
Several of his uniforms and descriptions of Knights Templar rituals appear cartoonish, almost clownish. They would trigger laughter, had he not killed dozens of people. Descriptions of his percentage of life force may have been taken from computer games, where such notations are common. The manner in which the manifesto lists various types of weapons, ammunition and equipment is similar to equipment lists in computer games such as World of Warcraft.
It must be stressed here that the vast majority of those who play online games like World of Warcraft do not exhibit violent behavior. I have younger relatives who have spent much time playing WoW, but wouldn’t hurt a fly. However, it is conceivable that a person who already suffers from a blurred distinction between fiction and reality could be more affected by this role-playing.
The public may rest assured that it is not common behavior within anti-Islamic environments to create an imaginary, cartoonish world where one is “judge, jury and executioner”, head of a non-existent pan-European terrorist organization which aims to blow up nuclear reactors, pose in one’s underwear for the police after having slaughtered dozens of people, write a manifesto about one’s candy-eating habits and one’s sister’s alleged sexually-transmitted diseases, or to believe that one will be canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church for having massacred unarmed teenagers. These are clearly bizarre delusions which indicate what we normally refer to as madness, at least in popular awareness, and possibly also in the medical sense.
Do you believe that Breivik is insane?
I have never met Breivik in person so I cannot give any conclusive answer to this question. As I’ve mentioned previously, I believe that there are quite a few elements in his manifesto and statements made by him afterwards which could indicate insanity in the clinical sense of the term. Yet at the same time there is no doubt that he exhibited calculated brutality with his acts of terrorism on July 22, 2011. A number of his statements before, during and after his horrific attacks could also indicate that he knew that he was massacring real human beings.
I notice that several of those who testified during the trial, and even more of those who didn’t do so, have been quite categorical in their opinions as to whether Breivik is sane or not. It may be perceived as arrogant to make strong conclusions about a person one has never met. In my opinion, too many people are guilty of doing just that. I shall therefore decline to pass judgment on what is wrong with Breivik.
However, I would like to say this: At the time of Breivik horrific massacre I was working with individuals who have high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger’s is a general term for people with very different characteristics, but if there is such a thing as a typical person with Asperger’s he would more closely resemble Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian who is currently the highest-ranked chess player in the world, than Breivik.
I have no formal education in psychiatry, but I do have some experience within this field as I worked on and off for several years at the closed unit of the psychiatric ward at Ålesund Hospital. I have firsthand experience in working with people who suffer from psychosis or paranoid schizophrenia. One of the things I learned from doing this work is that it is perfectly possible for a person to have above average intelligence and at the same time to be both calculating and manipulative, all the while being totally insane. The human mind is incredibly complex.
I don’t know which diagnosis that best fits Breivik and I will refrain from attempting to give him one, but it’s interesting that so many of the country’s leading experts in the field of psychiatry find it difficult to come up with a precise diagnosis.
Perhaps the fact that there are two conflicting psychiatric reports is not evidence that one pair of forensic psychiatrists, such as Torgeir Husby and Synne Sørheim who have been grossly attacked by the press, are idiots, while the other pair of court-appointed psychiatrists are absolutely correct. It may be because Breivik is, objectively speaking, very hard to classify. Even the experienced psychiatrists Agnar Aspaas and Terje Tørrisen admit that they’ve never met anyone quite like Breivik. He is atypical even of atypical cases.
Anders Behring Breivik not only breaks the boundaries of normal behavior, he even breaks the boundaries of abnormal behavior. He sometimes exhibits signs that may suggest paranoia and madness, but he is not a typical paranoid schizophrenic, nor does he exhibit typical traits for a person with Asperger’s syndrome. Most people diagnosed as such don’t harm or kill others. It is possible that he could have several of the suggested diagnoses, or none of them.
We often attempt to draw clear distinctions between calculated evil and irrational madness, but such sharp distinctions may not always exist. Sometimes the lines are blurred. Breivik could be such a case; it’s hard to say for certain.
Without necessarily agreeing with everything the forensic psychiatrists have stated, one is left with little doubt that a person with such highly developed violent fantasies who has slaughtered dozens of people without showing the slightest hint of remorse may constitute a danger to his surroundings in the future as well. Whether he is declared sane or insane is to me a matter of secondary importance. What is most important is that he should remain locked up for the rest of his life. I believe that it would deeply offend the sense of justice of every Norwegian if Breivik is allowed out on leave from prison in a few years’ time.
Is there anything in your opinion that hasn’t been sufficiently discussed during the trial?
I have not been present at the trial myself, but my impression is that the prosecutors Inga Bejer Engh and Svein Holden have done a good job. The Norwegian police also seem to have done a decent job in a very large and complex case, at least when it comes to their investigation after the attacks. How they performed before and during the attacks is for others to evaluate.
It has previously been claimed in the mass media that only a few months before the attacks took place, in March 2011, a man rang the switchboard of the government offices in Oslo and talked about a manifesto and shooting members of the AUF. He allegedly rebuked the government, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and former PM Gro Harlem Brundtland.
If this is true, two different possibilities offer themselves. The first is that this caller wasn’t Breivik; the second is that it was. If the caller wasn’t Breivik then this is very interesting, but the most plausible scenario is that it really was him. If we are able to trust the press — and this isn’t always the case — Breivik has both confirmed and denied that he was the caller in question.
Breivik managed to carry out a major attack without being detected beforehand, but if it is indeed true that he called the government offices just weeks prior to his car bomb went off and talked about shooting members of the AUF, then this is very bizarre behavior for a person who desperately wanted to fly under the radar of the authorities. He ran a real risk of being exposed when doing so. This suggests that he wasn’t always as mentally balanced as he would now like us to believe. He apparently “lost it” in a major way at least once. It’s surprising that there hasn’t been more focus on this aspect of the case. This incident isn’t necessarily crucial, but could help shed more light on Breivik’s psyche and state of mind.