Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik (left), currently on trial for a bomb attack in Oslo and a shooting spree nearby that left more than 75 people dead, has openly admitted to the mass murder. However, in court, the 33-year-old man denied criminal responsibility partly by invoking U.S. foreign policy, claiming the deadly rampage was a “preventative strike” taken in self-defense to prevent the “Islamization" of Norway.
Breivik did not mention the so-called “Bush Doctrine” by name. But analysts noted that the confessed terrorist’s “preemptive strike” defense bears striking resemblance to the justification offered by former President George W. Bush in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Breivik also compared the slaughter of teenagers at a left-wing Labor Party retreat to the U.S. government dropping atomic bombs on Japan during World War II. "They did it for something good, to prevent further war," he claimed, comparing the political event where his massacre took place to a “Hitler Youth” camp.
"The attacks on July 22 were a preventive strike. I acted in self-defense on behalf of my people, my city, my country," Breivik told the court, saying he was not guilty of terror or murder and that the victims were participating in a “conspiracy” to destroy Norway’s cultural identity. "I would have done it again."
Popular blogger Alexander Higgins was among the first to publicize the connection to U.S. policy. “Breivik is now invoking what is known as the Bush Doctrine which the United States uses to justify their terrorist attacks in Pakistan and Yemen to take out ‘Islamic Extremists’ in a claim his attacks were done in self-defense,” Higgins noted. Several commentators later picked up on the reference, too.
“For those who aren’t aware, the Bush Doctrine is a key component of US foreign policy and says that the United States can launch covert operations, military strikes or even full-scale invasions of foreign nations as a preventive self-defense measure to prevent attacks,” Higgins continued, citing attacks by Bush and Obama from Iraq and Yemen to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
According to media reports, Norway does have a legal principle allowing preventative self-defense. Legal analysts, however, said that notion would not be applicable in the Breivik case. “It is obvious that it has nothing to do with preventive self-defense,” Jarl Borgvin Doerre, who wrote a book about the concept, told the Associated Press. The killer’s youngest victim was 14.
Breivik remained emotionless for much of the trial so far, although he reportedly cried after a video he made was played for the court. The film was supposedly a condensed version of the 1,500-page “manifesto” he released before the rampage.
“I admit to the acts, but not criminal guilt,” Breivik said early on during the trial, claiming he could not plead guilty because his rampage was a "preventive" effort to "defend" Norway. “I don’t recognize Norwegian courts because you get your mandate from the Norwegian political parties who support multi-culturalism.”
Despite not acknowledging the court’s authority, however, Breivik has used the public trial to spout his message. He also plans to call dozens of Muslim extremists and anti-Islam activists to testify, supposedly to illustrate the veracity of his claims about the alleged danger Islam and immigration represent to Europe and Norway.
According to his lawyer, Geir Lippestad, the purpose of the testimony is to show that there are others who “look at things the same way, who are of the opinion that we are at war, the Muslim and the Christian world.” Some prominent anti-Muslim activists were also called to testify, although virtually every well-known critic of Islam and multiculturalism has publicly disowned Breivik, labeling him an evil lunatic.
Still, the spectacle in court is exactly what he was hoping for. "Your arrest will mark the initiation of the propaganda phase," Breivik wrote in a sort of instruction manual for terror attacks included in his manifesto. "Your trial offers you a stage to the world."
The mass murderer claims to be a “commander” of a group called the Knights Templar — not be confused with a high-level Masonic group of the same name — which the government insists does not exist. Breivik was indeed a Free Mason at the time of the attacks, but his lodge expelled him immediately after hearing the news.
Multiple witnesses claimed there was a second shooter involved in the attack. And Breivik told authorities that there were other “cells” around Europe ready to take action. Officials, however, dismissed the idea early on, saying Breivik almost certainly acted alone.
Breivik apparently saw himself as some sort of modern day “crusader,” though he rejected key tenets of Christianity throughout his manifesto. One of his aims, according to his writings, was to expel all Muslim immigrants from Europe.
In a bizarre parallel, slain Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi — who also invoked Bush’s policies to justify his support for terrorist groups — boasted years ago that Islam would eventually succeed in conquering Europe. “We have 50 million Muslims in Europe,” Gadhafi noted. “There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe — without swords, without guns, without conquests. The 50 million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.”
Speaking to Time magazine, Gadhafi defended his past actions by invoking elements of the “Bush Doctrine” as well. "Bush is saying that America is fighting for the triumph of freedom," the Libyan despot was quoted as saying. "When we were supporting liberation movements in the world, we were arguing that it was for the victory of freedom. We both agree. We were fighting for the cause of freedom."
The key issue in Breivik’s trial, according to reports, is whether or not he is mentally ill or was out of touch with reality at the time of the attacks. Experts have offered varying opinions, but a panel of psychiatrists who dealt with Breivik in prison claimed he was sane and understood exactly what he was doing when he slaughtered some 77 people.
If the court determines that he is insane, the killer would be sent to a psychiatric facility until psychiatrists pronounce him sane. If, however, Breivik is found to be mentally competent — as he hopes will be the case to avoid deflating his “cause” — he would likely face the maximum sentence under Norwegian law: 21 years, with the possibility of being detained for a longer period if deemed a continuing menace to society.