Transcript: 76. The Oslo and Utøya Terror Attacks

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Our cases have been researched using open source and archive materials. It deals with true crimes and real people. Each episode is produced with the utmost respect to the victims, their families and loved ones. 

Warning: This episode deals with terrorist attacks on innocent people. A far-right extremist took the lives of many people of multiple cultures, including people from his own ethnic group. He was outspoken against Islam and all people who welcomed multiculturalism. If these are sensitive issues to you, discretion is advised.

Utøya is an island 24 miles north of Oslo. Its natural beauty is exactly what one would expect to see in Norway: dark green woods, a rugged rocky shoreline and welcoming red and white buildings. From above the island is a heart-shaped and green – an iconic site. This idyllic spot hosts the  annual summer camp of the ruling Labour Party’s Youth Division.

Attending the camp has become a rite of passage in many Norwegian families. Young Labour Party Activists have been visiting the island since the 1950s. Every year, about 700 youths take the pilgrimage across the waters of Tyri-fjord for a week-long celebration of youth and politics. Thorbjørn Jagland and Jens Stoltenberg spent summers there in their youth – both eventually grew up to be Norwegian Prime Ministers.

Some youths were from refugee families who had settled in Norway, fleeing war and violence in their native countries. Norway was a safe and welcoming place and being a part of the Labour Party’s Youth Division, gave many of them an opportunity to make friends and make plans for a brighter future in their adoptive country.

It was a laid-back routine at the camp. Yes, they congregated for discussions and debates, but it was fun and interesting. Guest speakers included high profile politicians, even the prime minister himself. There was a lot of free time and they played games, spent nights around the campfire, made new friends… The summer idyll of Utøya was also the perfect setting for many teen romances.

On Friday the 22nd of July 2011, the pleasant weather had turned and heavy clouds brought bucketsful of rain. Towards the afternoon it had cleared up somewhat and everyone left the shelter of the newly built learning centre and cafeteria. It was leisure hour and some kids were playing volleyball, others soccer, while others sat out on the lawn and engaged in conversation about life, love and future plans.


Leader of the camp, Monica Bøsei – or Mother Utøya as everyone called her – stopped the games with some terrible news: there had been an attack on the government building in Oslo. A car bomb blasted with tremendous force and the city was in crisis. Many of the campers had parents who worked in the government building and everyone tried to make contact with their families to make sure they were safe.

The positive and carefree vibe had changed as they realised that their government was under attack. As they were coming to terms with the shock of the bombing, they had no way of knowing that the island of Utøya was the next target. Before the end of the day, 69 of them, would be dead, hunted down by one man: far-right extremist, Anders Behring Breivik.

>>Intro Music

Anders Behring Breivik was born in Oslo on the 13th of February 1979. His mother, Wenche, was a nurse and father Jens was a civil economist turned diplomat. As a diplomat for Norway, his job took the family to London, where Anders was born. The young Breivik lived his first year in London, then his parents separated and he moved to Norway with his mother. 

His father remarried and by all accounts his second marriage was more stable than his first. He wanted to obtain custody of his son, but despite multiple requests, it was denied. Throughout the young Breivik’s formative years, contact with his father was sporadic (at best).

When Breivik was only four years old, two reports were filed by social services, expressing concern about his mental health. He had been under psychiatric observation for about a year at the time. The report made mention of the boy’s peculiar smile. The psychologist felt that his smile was not an emotional reaction, but rather an automatic response to his environment. 

Psychologists were worried about the way his mother treated him. So much so, it was advised that he should be removed from her care. One report makes an unsettling note, saying that she 'sexualised’ him, exposing him to things he did not need to know at such a young age. She was also known to hit him occasionally and didn’t mind telling him that she wished he was dead. The report describes Wenche Behring as:

"…a woman with an extremely difficult upbringing, borderline personality disorder and an all-encompassing if only partially visible depression" who "projects her primitive aggressive and sexual fantasies onto her son.”

Yet Anders Behring Breivik remained in his mother’s custody and social services did not follow up after the reports. His mother remarried and had a daughter from her second marriage. The family lived in Oslo’s West – a wealthy area where one will find all the who’s who of Oslo. Breivik was never close to his stepfather or his half-sister and his relationship with his mother remained problematic.

When he was of school-going age, he often visited his father and his step-mother, who had moved to France. School friends recalled him to have been higher than average intelligent. He was also physically stronger than his peers and often helped kids who were being bullied. Although he was somewhat isolated socially, he was well-liked.

When Breivik was a teenager, he became rebellious. He was part of the hip-hop scene in Oslo and he was rather crafty with a spray can too. He built up quite the reputation for being one of Oslo’s most prolific graffiti artists – a position that did not come without risk. Police caught him in 1995 when he was 16 years old and fined him. When his father learnt about his brush with the law, he ended all contact with his son. They never saw each other ever again. By this time they did not have much contact anyway, but it left Breivik with one less connection in his already sparse family circle.

Breivik decided to put the lid on the spray can – so to speak – and turned his focus to his personal image. He started doing a lot of strength training. He wanted to be a big, muscular guy who scared people. To achieve this, he took anabolic steroids and went to gym as often as he could. In his early 20s, he had plastic surgery done to adjust his chin, nose and forehead. His new look appealed to him and he preferred the more chiselled reflection of himself in the mirror. He was fair skinned and blonde with icy blue eyes… Perfectly Arian.

At the age of 20, Breivik applied to join the Norwegian Army, but he was turned down because of his encounters with police during his teens. This infuriated him, but he kept it inside, festering and plotting his next move… 

Breivik became openly critical of his parents’ political views, which aligned with AUF (the Norwegian Labour Party). He also felt that his mother was too much of a feminist, although she hardly ever did much to promote feminism – she was not an active part of any political party or organisation.

The Progress Party, a right-wing organisation, welcomed the bright and passionate Breivik with open arms. They were committed to overthrowing pollical parties and drive Muslims out of Europe. Breivik especially supported their stance on immigration and became consumed with intolerance of migrant communities in Norway. His dislike of the Labour Party and their policy of welcoming refugees would continue to grow into full-blown hatred by the time he turned 30.

Throughout most of his twenties, Breivik worked in customer service at an unnamed company and there were never any issues at work. He got on well with his co-workers, of whom many were foreigners. He was known as a well-spoken and even tempered individual. His underlying feelings towards non-Europeans would later come as a shock to those who worked with him.

Although he had a couple of acquaintances, Breivik did not seem to have too much of a social life. He met a woman from Belarus online and went to visit her in 2005. She visited him once in Oslo, but it never really developed into a serious relationship. 

When Breivik was 23, in 2002, he started his own computer programming business while he was still working in customer service. It did rather well, but although he was making good money, not everything complied with the law. He was declared bankrupt after his shady dealings were exposed. According to Breivik he had millions in offshore bank accounts and lost almost half of it on the stock markets. The rest evaporated along with his business.

At the age of 26, Breivik had to move back into his mother’s home. In hindsight, many people see this exact moment in his life as the turning point. He seemed to experience a breakdown of sorts; locking himself into his room, spending hours and hours on his computer or playing video games. During this time he became a complete hermit and germophobe, even going so far as to wear a face mask inside to protect him from disease. His mother was living by herself when he moved in with her, so wearing a mask indoors would have been unnecessary.

Breivik became obsessed with games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and World of Warcraft. He met like-minded people online and they developed virtual friendships. He would later say that he played these games to train for the killings. 

During this time of seclusion, his diabolical plan began to hatch. He kept a diary of his thoughts and logged his preparation in a document he referred to as his ‘manifesto’. He realised that he had to go out in the world again if he wanted to complete his mission. 

Breivik had savings and according to the Norwegian taxation office, he had access to the equivalent of more than 200,000 US Dollars. He had the time and means to do whatever he deemed necessary. In 2009, he took a trip to the Czech Republic to source weapons, but failed to get any by illegal means. He returned to Norway and obtained a gun license, stating that he wanted it for hunting – for which he purchased a Ruger Mini 14 rifle. 

In Norway, if you can prove that you are shooting for sport, you may obtain a firearm. Breivik became a member of a shooting club in order to legally purchase a 9mm Glock pistol. He named his rifle Gungir, after Odin’s spear and his 9mm Mjölmir – the name of Thor’s hammer. He saw himself as the protector of Norway.

In the spring of 2011, Breivik moved out of his mother’s flat to an isolated farm, two hours north of Oslo. He told everyone that he was going to try his hand at becoming a vegetable farmer. Neighbouring farmers always thought he was a bit odd. They put it down to the fact that he was clearly a city person and did not have any farming experience. The truth was, his new entrepreneurial endeavour was set up as part of a bigger plan: it was a smoke screen to hide what he was actually doing.

The remote location of the farm meant that nobody ever crossed that way. To be extra-cautious, he boarded up the windows of the barn and the house and could spend all of his time preparing for his mission without anyone knowing what he was up to. He also used this time to train and get into great physical shape for his ‘big day’. 

He received countless deliveries of fertilizer, which did not seem out of place at his Geofarm – as he called it. In fact, not one vegetable was ever grown on Breivik’s farm. He used all the fertilizer to make a bomb. 

On Friday the 22nd of July, Anders Behring Breivik was ready to make history in the most evil of ways. This quote from his manifesto gives an insight to his frame of mind:

“This is the big day you have been looking forward to for so long. Equip yourself and arm up for today you will become immortal. Good luck – and give them hell.”

At 2:09pm he emailed his Manifesto to a list of European people whom he felt would agree with his ideology: right-wing activists, neo-Nazis and such. It did not attract much attention when it was sent, but within 24 hours it could be read as the blueprint to his attacks.

Shortly after 3pm, he parked a white van outside the building housing the Prime Minister’s office in the government district of Oslo. He calmly walked away to a second car that was parked a short distance away and drove off, heading out of Oslo towards the north. 

At 3:26pm the 900kg bomb exploded, causing chaos in Oslo’s inner city. The deafening blast pulsed through the city and set in motion the first part of Breivik’s plan. The entire block was ruins and emergency services rushed in to help the injured and secure the area. Dozens of people were injured and news cameras revealed an apocalyptic scene with bleeding victims being tended to in the rubble. In total, eight innocent people lost their lives in the blast.

Norway had never experienced such an attack before and first responders seemed out of their depth in dealing with the situation. The city was evacuated, but not sealed off. Breivik had all the time in the world to make his escape. 

Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg was not injured and reported the incident to the King. He mobilised all units in the police force and took immediate action. Intelligence analysed the attack and concluded that it bore the signs of a suicide bombing. Ethnic Norwegians jumped to conclusions turned on Muslims, looking at them in suspicion. The first 2-3 hours had a ripple effect of violence against random, innocent Muslim citizens.

A member of the public called in a tip, saying they saw a person dressed as a policeman driving out of the city. It caught the person’s attention, because all law enforcement officers and emergency workers were heading towards the scene, he was heading the opposite direction. The witness managed to write down the vehicle registration number of the van the man fled in.

But police were already onto the man. From CCTV footage, they could see the license plate of the van containing the bomb. Within minutes they determined that it was a rental, paid for by a man called Anders Behring Breivik.

What they didn’t know was that this horrific attack was only the first part of his plan. In a way, the bombing – a major attack in itself – was done to distract authorities while he made his way to Utøya. There was a State of Emergency in Oslo and police were only taking calls related to the bombing. 

Back at the summer camp of Utøya, young people were coming to terms with breaking news of the bomb blast in Oslo. They contacted their relatives to find out if they were safe. The fun and positive atmosphere of the camp had turned as quickly as the weather did. There was a feeling of disbelief and confusion as to why anyone would want to blow up their government. 

Mamma Utøya stepped in and ordered camp leaders to light all the BBQ’s. They handed out candy to keep everyone comforted and all formal activities were called off for the rest of the day. Although there was an atmosphere of panic in Oslo, no one on the island would ever have thought that they would become the  next target. Because of limited access to the island, everyone felt it was probably the safest place to be at that particular moment in time.

Breivik parked his van in the car park of the ferry crossing at Utøya. He was still wearing his police uniform and had a suitcase with him for his weapons and ammunition. He told the ferry operator that he was sent from a tactical unit to protect the island, and advise them on security measures, seeing as there was an attack on the Labour Party’s building only an hour before. The ferry operator recalled Breivik had police ID and he had no reason to suspect that anything was wrong. So he took him across to the campsite. He noticed that Breivik had an iPod and thought it looked out of place, but left it at that. Breivik’s manifesto explains the iPod:

“I will put my iPod on max volume to suppress fear if needed. I might just put Lux Aeterna by Clint Mansell on repeat…”

When they reached the shore, Mamma Utøya and the Camp Guard welcomed him, relieved that someone was sent to support them. But they could not have been more wrong. Breivik calmly drew his firearm and at 5:21pm, he fired his first shots, killing both of them on the spot.

The campers heard the gunshots but thought it was the sound of firecrackers. There was confusion when they saw the man in police uniform, but they never thought that he posed any danger to them. Breivik told everyone he could see to go and hide in the cafeteria. Once inside, he opened fire and killed all 13 youths who thought he was there to protect them.  

Then Breivik started walking around the camp, calmly shooting people as he saw them, many of them at point blank range. He killed one teenager after the other, as if it were a video game. Witnesses later said that they thought it was a prank at first, or a game. Everyone was running and screaming. But as they saw their injured and bloodied friends and siblings, they realised it was no joke. 

Kids ran for their lives, but as they were on a small island, they didn’t have many options. The closest point to land was a 650 metre swim – the waters of the fjord were deep, icy cold and treacherous. It was mayhem: everyone ran in all directions. People trampled each other, trying to get away. Some froze, some darted at a speed they never knew possible. Total panic swept over the island like a shockwave.

Some people decided to hide and jumped into tents in the main camping ground. But Breivik saw them and optimised the situation – his prey was trapped. He zipped open a tent door and shot the people inside. He moved on to the next tent and the next…

There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide… The only way out was by ferry – an old bullet-proof military vessel and could transport up to 60 people. With the gunman killing everyone in his way, the ferry left rather early on, with only nine people onboard, leaving the others to fend for themselves.

One of the campers, a young girl from Oslo, called her father who was a senior police officer and told him what was happening on Utøya. He went straight to the command centre to tell him about the shooting. The centre was still coping with the backlash of the bombing trauma in it took him a while to get the message across. When they realised the seriousness of the situation on Utøya, they knew the attacks were linked and that the motivation had to be political. Who-ever the assailant was, he was clearly anti-Labour Party and anti AUF. Their main suspect from the start, because of the CCTV footage and the rental van, was Anders Behring Breivik.

Back at the Command Centre in Oslo, police discovered Breivik’s manifesto. They realized that the he had published it online just over an hour before the bombing. Intelligence officers were tasked with combing through the 1500-page manifesto that Breivik named 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence. In it, he was critical of left-wing politicians in the Labour Party for allowing Muslims into Norway. In his view, Muslims would control Europe within 20 years, something he felt the urge to prevent from happening. Another quote from his manifesto:

“We do not want and will not tolerate Islam in Europe.”

He also posted video on YouTube, with infographics about how he had planned the attacks. He outlines his motives and explains why he hates different cultural groups.

The bomb in Oslo was meant to kill the current leaders. But the shooting in Utøya was his masterpiece. He wanted to hit them where it would hurt them the most: take away their children – the leaders of the future. He wanted to cut the grass and destroy its roots.

Thirty minutes into his terrifying shooting spree, Breivik called police from a cell phone he had taken from one of his victims. He was calm when he said:

“Yes. Hello. This is Anders Behring Breivik Commander in the Norwegian Anti Communist Resistance Movement. I’m on Utøya and I want to surrender.”

Before police could get any more information from him, the call cut out. He later said that he tried to call ten times and every time it cut out.

His manifesto serves a sordid record of the sequence of events he had envisioned for what he called his ‘Big Day’. He made mention of calling police in order to negotiate ransom money for releasing captives. But this was only to buy himself more time as he had no intention of halting the killing for any reason.

On the island, desperate to get away, some youths found an old rowing boat and managed to flee. Some were so desperate; they took their chances with the cold water and began to swim. Everyone was swimming with their clothes and shoes on and it was weighing them down. They had also run to make it into the water and the swimming was exhausting. Some turned back, fearing they would drown. 

Breivik followed them down and fired at the swimmers, killing some before they had the chance to escape. All the while he shouted at them, saying that they were all Marxists and he was going to kill them all.

One young man, Adrian Pracon, tried to swim away, but soon realised he was probably going to drown. He turned back and crawled onto the beach at Utøya, coughing and retching. Then he realized he was not alone. He saw the gunman, they locked eyes. Breivik shouted that he was going to shoot him and pointed his rifle at Adrian. Adrian instinctively screamed, begging Breivik for mercy. Miraculously the attacker turned away and left Adrian standing on the beach. Breivik later recounted that he had spared Adrian because he looked like he could be right-wing. However, after Breivik had made his way around the island, he returned to the southern tip and caught up with Adrian. This time Breivik shot him and five others, who all died. And although Adrian was hit in the shoulder and arms, he survived.

Local people knew that Utøya was under siege. They could hear the gun shots and screams echoing across the water. They saw the people in the water and scrambled to get their boats out and help the ones who were trying to swim to safety. 

Norwegian Counter-Terrorism Unit, Delta Force, was deployed to the island as soon as news of the attack reached the Police Command Centre in Oslo. There was only one helicopter available to the officers, which was not sufficient to transport all of them. The only way to get them and their weapons to Utøya was by driving them there. It was Friday afternoon rush hour coming out of Oslo. Rush hour on the day of a terrorist attack – it seemed like every last person was leaving the city. 

Typically the drive from Oslo to Utøya would take about 50 minutes. On July 22nd, the most ferocious of attacks was in progress; children and youth leaders were being killed with the death toll rising by the minute. They had no time to waste, but they also had no way of getting their faster than they did.

Parents received desperate text messages from their children on Utøya,, informing them about the violent situation. Some used their dying moments to say their last goodbyes before the thread of texts stopped with ominous silence.

The attacks were far from over... By 6pm, more than 40 people had already perished. The rest of the campers were hunted down like animals and they were running out of places to hide. Many found refuge along the rocky edges of the island, by the water. They clung onto cliff edges, hoping and praying Breivik would not find them. But he caught on to this and started stalking the perimeter. He found groups hiding together, marched up to them and shot again and again.

When police eventually arrived at Utøya ferry crossing, they wanted to send as many Delta officers across as they could, as they believed there was more than one shooter on the island. The intention was perhaps good, but the execution was poor. The rubber dinghy carried too many people, took on water and began to sink. A civilian boat saw what was happening and rushed to their aid, transporting the specialized officers to shore, risking his own life in doing so.

At ten past six a group of friends were hiding together at a pump house, trying to avoid the trigger-happy assailant. When they saw a police officer making his way to them, they were relieved. He assured them everything was okay and told them to huddle together. Then he opened fire and killed all of them. It was no policeman; it was Anders Breivik. 14 teenagers were murdered at this scene alone.

Delta Force officers were stealthily making their way onto the island: one team from the west and one from the south. It was not difficult to establish Breivik’s location, all they had to do was to follow the sound of gunshots. By this time, he was along the southern tip of the island, in the woods near the water’s edge. Delta officers shouted at him to stop, giving instructions to lay his weapons down. He did not comply at first.

Delta commanders decided that it was time to respond with force and gave the order to shoot Breivik. Seconds before they could end his life , Anders Breivik surrendered. He was taken into custody alive. He was constrained only a minute after he shot his last victim. That is one vital minute too late for the victims who died at the scene. 

Silence fell over Utøya. It was a slaughter field. A news station helicopter flew over the island and filmed the last minutes of the attack and Breivik’s arrest. Images of young adult bodies strewn all over the site painted a morbid picture of what transpired in the preceding 1 hour and 13 minutes.

All up, Breivik killed a total of 69 people on Utøya. Some groups huddled together for safety, but they too were shot and their bodies were left in a pile, like the group at the pump house. The sound of cell phones ringing and buzzing pierced through the silence as desperate parents tried to reach their kids who could no longer answer their calls. 

The most shocking part about the Utøya shooting is how young the victims were. Most of them were younger than 18 – the youngest victim had just turned 14. They were all talented and positive people who wanted to change the world for the better. 

Across the bay from Utøya, on the mainland, survivors were reeling in shock, coming to terms with the attack. Injured victims were transported off the island as police set out to identify the ones were not so lucky to escape. It was a massive task that had to be done quickly and thoroughly, as anxious families were waiting ashore, hoping against hope that their children and loved ones were still alive. A local hotel, Sundvolden, served as a base where families waited as buses transporting survivors arrived, one after the other.

As families were reunited, they cried and held each other, thankful that the ordeal was over. But many families remained with empty arms as it dawned on them that their children were never coming back. Some shooting victims were airlifted to hospitals in Oslo and families assumed the worst when they could not find them in Utøya. All of this while hospitals were still tending to victims from the bomb blast earlier in the afternoon. To people in the situation, it felt like the world had come to an end – nothing was normal anymore. And all because of one man, driven by hatred.

Police received harsh criticism about the response time. Norwegian people felt that if they had acted sooner and arrived at the scene quicker, many lives would have been saved. Officers who were at the scene explained that they got there as quickly as humanly possible – they explained the circumstances: resources were limited after the terror attack in Oslo, the traffic was unusually congested… Also, they did work swiftly to identify the bomber and having a name for their attacker was a solid departure point. By the time they arrested Breivik, they knew who he was and why he was attacking his own people.

His arresting officers were surprised at how calm and collected Breivik was immediately after his arrest. Some even commented on how well-mannered and polite he was. This stood in stark contrast to the heinous mass murders he had single-handedly committed in the space of a couple of hours. 

The thing is, his arrest was an integral part of his thoroughly planned-out mission. It was time to tell the world what he believed in. He firmly believed that a large fraction of Norwegian society agreed with his ideology, whether they knew they did or not. According to Breivik, he committed the bombing and the Utøya murders, because he wanted to save Norway from the Muslim invasion. He felt that the Labour Party was to blame and that they had to be held accountable for QUOTE letting down Norway and the Norwegian people END QUOTE.

He was adamant that he did it, because he loved the people of Norway. His nationalism was his driving force. He blamed the Labour Party for introducing a multicultural society in a country where homogenous culture has prevailed for centuries. Although it would be hard to find anyone who agrees with Breivik’s actions, he was not alone in his fear and dislike of Islam. The difference is, others did not kill 77 innocent people to make a statement. 

Breivik always spoke of ‘we’ when he referred to the crimes he committed and gave the impression that he was leading an army. He wanted his actions to ignite a war of ethnic Western Europeans against migrants, particularly Muslims.

When the terrorist’s identity was made public, people were shocked. Breivik seemed to be an average middle-class Norwegian who was well-educated and seemed to be ‘just a normal guy’. People who knew him – old classmates, work-colleagues – were dumbfounded that he could have committed such monstrous acts of violence. He was an average 32-year-old with only a minor non-violent criminal history, nothing to cause alarm in the least. There would have been no way to predict what was brewing beneath the surface when it came to Anders Breivik.

Two weeks after the attack, Breivik was taken back to Utøya for a walk-though of the events of 22 July. He spoke freely and openly, talking about his actions on the island that day. Police officials said that although he did not show any remorse, he ‘was not unaffected’ by the experience.

While awaiting trial, Breivik had to have a psychiatric evaluation. His defence welcomed this, because the only way to defend him in court would have been to prove that he was insane. Someone who lost his mind and did not act on his own volution. For someone to be deemed criminally insane, they have to suffer from delusions, hear voices that command them to act, basically have an altered view of reality. If the court accepted his insanity plea, it meant that Breivik would never go to prison and would only be kept at a psychiatric hospital for observation.

The psychiatric report concluded that Breivik suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. However, people did not buy it. Survivors remembered a calm and focussed gunman killing one person after the other. He wasn’t in a catatonic nor was he acting in a crazed rage. Anyone who knew Breivik claimed that he was always calm and soft spoken and never suffered from psychosis. He had strong political views and far-right ideologies, but he was not mentally unstable. 

He was a xenophobe who used the ideologies and writings of others in his manifesto. Other members of the far-right who have not resorted to committing terrorist acts. Breivik’s biggest gripe was the Muslim influx into his country. He stated that he had a personal motivation for hating Muslims, stating that he was 16 years old when Muslim gangs harassed and victimized ethnic Norwegian teens on the streets. He was referring to his hip-hop days of decorating the city as a graffiti artist.

Due to public pressure and an urgent request by prosecution, a second psychiatric evaluation was ordered by the court. In the second report, it concluded that Breivik was definitely not psychotic during the attacks. He was also found to NOT be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, but he was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. Breivik agreed with the fact that he was NOT insane – being ruled mentally sane, people were more likely to listen to his message.

Anders Breivik’s trial began on the 16th of April 2012 in Oslo Courthouse and concluded on the 22nd of June, almost a year after the attacks. Breivik had been looking forward to it, seeing his trial as an opportunity to share his ideology with the world. Just before he took the stand, he turned to the crowd of grieving parents and survivors and greeted them with a Nazi salute.

Some survivors faced their attacker for the first time since the attacks and gave victim impact statements. Breivik did not flinch once and stared blankly at them or smiled when they spoke out against him.

On 24 August 2012 the Oslo District Court ruled that Behring Breivik was sane and that he was guilty of killing 77 people on July 22nd 2011. He was convicted of mass murder, causing a fatal explosion and terrorism. He received the maximum sentence in Norway: 21 years in solitary confinement in prison, with a minimum of 10 years. Regular evaluations of the prisoner would occur over the years and if he was found to be a danger to society, the minimum period could be extended. 

Breivik announced that he did not recognize the legitimacy of Norwegian court so he was denied an opportunity to appeal his sentence. To appeal he had to acknowledge the system first. 

He lives in Skien prison in a comfortable three-roomed cell. He has a bedroom, bathroom and exercise room. He can watch TV, has access to a computer – but not the internet. Only specialised prison guards are tasked with tending to the most dangerous man in Norway. In 2016 he sued Correctional Services as he said solitary confinement violated his human rights. His case was dismissed.

In 2017, he changed his name to Fjotolf Hansen. He told his lawyers his reasons for changing his name, but they did not want to disclose it to the public. It is an interesting choice of name. Both the first and last name are typically Norwegian. The first name, Fjotolf, is an old Norwegian name that literally means ‘idiot’. No one calls their kids Fjotolf anymore, for obvious reasons. Yet this is the name Breivik prefers to his birth name of Anders. 

He still has not shown any remorse or begged forgiveness. He did recognize that it was horrible and difficult to execute, but maintained that he believed it was necessary. As his Manifesto states:

“Most people will today openly condemn us as terrorists. However, a hundred years from now, we will be celebrated as heroes.”

The young people – campers and leaders on Utøya – posed no threat whatsoever to Anders Breivik in his comfortable West Oslo life. They were attending a youth camp for the ruling political party, but they were peaceful and optimistic about the future. But more importantly: they were teenagers. It is fair to assume that some were there because their parents wanted them to go, perhaps they only went because all of their friends were there. Killing them because he opposed what he called ‘enforced multiculturalism’ was the cruellest way possible to get his message across. 

A memorial was built on the island of Utøya, honouring the 69 victims who lost their lives on July 22nd 2011. An effective visual testimony of the terror of that day is a mural with the last text messages sent by the victims - a timeline of those harrowing last moments under fire. At the end of each thread of texts, is the time of death and the victim’s name. The moment when they were silenced forever. Their last thoughts, frozen in time.

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