As police hunt for Breivik colluders, lost chance rued

INTERPOL and Scotland Yard are investigating claims by the mass killer Anders Behring Breivik that two other cells of people were working with him on his terrorist anti-Muslim crusade.
Interpol has asked Scotland Yard for more officers as it trawls through its database of known high-risk extremists after Mr Breivik boasted to police of links in Britain, including the English Defence League (EDL).
It also emerged Mr Breivik was investigated by Norwegian police in March for a purchase of chemicals but the probe was dropped. The incident was judged too insignificant to warrant a follow-up, the head of the Norwegian Police Security Service, Janne Kristiansen, said.
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, ordered a review of all far-right groups and said the claims of accomplices were being taken “extremely seriously”.
He denied there had been complacency about right-wing extremism, pointing out that it was mentioned in the government’s official terrorism strategy and in a speech he made on the issue in Munich in February.
Mr Breivik, who has admitted killing 76 people in a car-bomb and a shooting spree last week, claimed in an internet manifesto that he and other activists had met in London to set up a group called the Knights Templar to fight a perceived Islamic takeover of Europe.
He had also written that he had strong links with the EDL. He claimed he had met its leaders and had members as Facebook friends.
The Daily Telegraph reported an anonymous senior member of the EDL saying he believed Mr Breivik had met the group’s leaders when he visited Britain to hear the right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders.
“He is someone who can project himself very well, and I presume there would be those within the EDL who would be quite taken by that,” the league member said. “It’s like Hitler; people said he was hypnotic. This guy had the same sort of effect.”
But officially the EDL and other such groups quickly moved to distance themselves from Mr Breivik. The EDL issued a statement condemning the killings, denying links with him and insisting that it was a peaceful body that rejected extremism.
Mr Breivik’s estranged father, Jens, a retired Norwegian diplomat living in France, tried to distance himself, too. He told reporters, “I don’t feel like his father. How could he just stand there and kill so many innocent people and just seem to think that what he did was OK? … He should have taken his own life, too. That’s what he should have done.”
The death toll was revised down to 76 after police said they believed some bodies had been counted twice in the initial chaos after the massacre.
Ms Kristiansen said Mr Breivik had come to police attention after buying large quantities of fertiliser, an ingredient in bombs. No action could be taken because the purchase was legal and he had a farm, giving him a legitimate use for it.
“In March, we received … a list of 50 to 60 names and his name was on it because he spent 120 krone ($20) at a business in Poland,” she said.
Police said they were considering charging Mr Breivik with crimes against humanity, which would carry a maximum prison sentence of 30 years, more than the current 21 years he faces for terrorism-related charges.
The prosecutor Christian Hatlo told Tuesday’s Aftenposten the new charge was “a possibility”.
An estimated 100,000 people joined a vigil and procession in central Oslo yesterday, marching to defy what is being interpreted as an attack on the nation’s democratic values.
Crown Prince Haakon told the crowd, “Tonight the streets are filled with love.”
First published in the Sydney Morning Herald.