Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian man who admits to killing 77 people last month, allegedly contributed to a range of online neo-Nazi, nationalist and anti-Islam forums. Now the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency, Europol, is launching a special investigation into non-Islamist extremism in Scandinavia.
Ideas spreading through Internet
Reginald Peters runs the online blog of the anti-Islam group, the English Defence League, and posts on its forums.
He says the Internet is a good way to spread his ideas. "We no longer really communicate by letter, by concrete mail as such. So this is the only way for people to communicate with other people who agree with them or if they don’t agree with them," Peters said.
The English Defence League stages street protests against what it calls the Islamification of Britain.
It has been in the spotlight since Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik claimed to have links with the group, which it denies.
Breivik admits to carrying out the terror attacks in Norway last month that left 77 people dead.
Just before the attack, he posted a 1,500-page, anti-Islam manifesto online.
In it, he says he was mentored by a British right-wing blogger.
English Defence League condemns Norway attacks
Paul Ray, a former member of the English Defense League who now lives in Malta, denies being Breivik’s mentor. But he says he did communicate with Breivik, and his ideas may have inspired Breivik.
"Of course, there’s parallels, but I won’t put [those] parallels, I won’t put him [Anders Breivik] or his deeds or what he has said on the table with anything I believe, and I will stick to that position because [they are] innocent young children," Ray stated.
Ray condemns Breivik’s attacks. But European security services say right-wing extremists are using the Internet to market their ideologies and exchange ideas.
"No doubt, there is a lot of activity going on, and I think in the case of Breivik, for example, the Norwegian case, it’s evident that he was in communication with quite a range of like-minded individuals," says Nigel Inkster, director of Transnational Threats and Political Risk at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "Although groups like the English Defense League notably have moved very quickly to disassociate themselves from any institutional link with Breivik."
Police investigation - suspect acted alone
Norwegian police say Breivik appears to have carried out his attacks alone.
And, says Inkster, his Internet communications appear to be easy to trace. "There’s not much evidence that the techniques used by these groups to communicate are that sophisticated. I think it’s pretty easy to monitor what’s going on in contrast to some of the more sophisticated techniques used by Islamist extremist groups, which involve things like stenography, encryption, other things, which are quite high end," Inkster said.
Inkster says right-wing extremists may use the Internet to share ideas but, at least for now, not apparently for coordinating violence.