x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

British PM orders probe into Norwegian killer's links to English far-right groups

Breivik claimed that he was at the formation in 2002 in London of an extremist Christian terror group, and also claimed to have extensive contacts with the anti-Muslim English Defence League.

LONDON // Police and security services are investigating links between Norway's mass killer, Anders Behring Breivik, and right-wing groups in Britain.

Both Scotland Yard and Europol, based in The Hague, are involved in the investigations, prompted by claims in the killer's "manifesto" that he had links with far-right groups in England.

Breivik claimed that he was at the formation in 2002 in London of an extremist Christian terror group based on the 12th-century Crusader organisation, the Knights Templar.

He also claimed to have extensive contacts with the English Defence League (EDL), a far-right, anti-Islamic group, and he is known to have attended one of their rallies in London in March last year.

While Breivik was in London, he attended a speech given by Geert Wilders, the far-right Dutch political leader, and police are investigating reports that he attended another EDL rally in Newcastle in May.

David Cameron, Britain's prime minister, said the possibility of links between Breivik and Britain were being taken "extremely seriously".

At a meeting of the National Security Council in London on Monday, Mr Cameron ordered a review of the threat posed by right-wing terrorism. Scotland Yard is investigating with counterparts in Oslo the possibility of two other terror cells being in existence, as Breivik has claimed.

Although the EDL has denied "any official contact" with Breivik and has forcefully denounced the killings in Oslo, the group's organiser, Daryl Hobson, has admitted its members were in contact with the Norwegian on Facebook.

He wrote in an online posting: "He had about 150 EDL on his [Facebook] list. Bar one or two, I doubt the rest of us ever met him, although he did come over for one of our demos in 2010."

However, the Daily Telegraph yesterday quoted an unnamed "senior member" of the EDL as saying that he understood that Breivik had met the organisation's leaders in London last year.

"I spoke to him a few times on Facebook and he is extremely intelligent and articulate and very affable," the source added.

"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. It's like Hitler. People said he was hypnotic. This guy had the same sort of effect."

Matthew Collins, spokesman for the anti-fascist organisation Searchlight, which is promising to produce evidence of Breivik's links with Britain, said: "EDL was his inspiration, ideologically and politically."

dsapsted@thenational.ae