Anders Behring Breivik had considered killing himself just before he was arrested for having killed 69 people at a youth camp, he told a court yesterday.Anders Behring Breivik had considered killing himself just before he was arrested for having killed 69 people at a youth camp, he told a court yesterday.
“I thought, ‘Do I really want to survive this? I will be the most hated man in Norway and every day for the rest of my life will be a nightmare.
“Then I looked at my Glock [pistol]: ‘Should I shoot myself in the head?’”
But he decided it was more important for his “cause” — fighting multiculturalism and Islam in Europe — to have a trial and use it to air his political views.
Breivik told the court he had managed to get onto the island of Utoya, home to a Labour Party summer camp for teenagers, by dressing as a policeman and telling people he had been ordered there following a bomb explosion in Oslo [which he had planted, killing eight]. The ferry to the island, which had been halted following news of the bomb, returned to pick him up.
The head of security on Utoya Island asked why she had not been told he was coming and he told her Oslo was in chaos after the explosion because half its police were on summer holidays. “She bought it,” he said. She and another security guard were the first two people he killed when he reached the island.
He said the first shot was the hardest — “I thought, ‘I don’t want to do this? There were 100 voices in my head saying ‘Don’t do it!’”
But he decided, “This is now or never.” After that he went into fight-or-flight mode and stopped analysing his feelings, he said.
To frighten people he shouted, “You are going to die today, Marxists!” This made people “panic completely”, he said.
He described several groups of people standing still as if “paralysed” as he walked up to them to shoot them. He said he shot many people several times because he realised that some of those he first attacked had “played possum” and pretended to be dead.
He had shot people who ran away, a man who tried to stop him, a man who begged “Please, friend!” and a boy who came out of a tent wearing an iPod and didn’t know what was happening. He had also shot at a boat that he thought might have helped survivors in the water, he said.
He went up to one group and asked, “Have you seen him?”, so that they would think he was helping and not run away, he said. He used smoke grenades to try to make others come out of a building.
But he had left alive one boy and one girl he thought looked younger than 16. He believed he should not kill anyone under that age.
Breivik said he would have stopped killing if he had been able to speak to a senior officer the first time he rang police on a mobile phone from the island. “Since they hadn’t called me back, I thought they didn’t intend to let me surrender, so I might as well continue until I am killed.”
He denied reports that he had laughed and smiled as he committed the atrocities.
Breivik said he would not have gone to Utoya Island if his bomb attack in central Oslo earlier in the day had been more “successful”. He believed he needed a higher death toll in order to get media attention, he said.
Breivik said he believed he had “fairly normal emotional patterns” before 2006, when he began meditation exercises to dull fear so that he could commit the attacks. This also had the effect of dulling other emotions.
“I don’t think I could have gone through this trial without trying to de-emotionalise,” he said. “If I tried to understand the suffering I had caused, I wouldn’t be able to sit here today? I don’t even try to take it in.”
First published in The Age.