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Sarkozy condemns ‘odious’ attack on Norway

French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned the deadly bombing in the Norwegian capital Oslo on Friday as an "odious and unacceptable act" of violence.

“At this dramatic time, I wish to pass on the profound sympathy of the entire French people for the Norwegian people,” he said, responding to early reports of the bombing in the city centre and offering his condolences to the families of the victims.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé also condemned the attacks, describing them as “blind and savage acts of violence”.

Norwegian intelligence did not consider the far-right as a serious threat to society and instead primarily feared an attack by Islamist extremists, according to an official report published this year.  

With its forces involved in the NATO campaigns in both Afghanistan and Libya, Friday’s tragic twin attacks prompted speculation that the country could have been paying a price for its participation in the Western alliance.  

But after the arrest of a 32-year-old ethnic Norwegian, whom police have described as a “fundamentalist Christian” with political opinions that leaned “to the right”, there has been a fundamental shift in focus.  

In its annual threat assessment report released earlier this year, the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) had detected a rise in far-right activity but said “the lack of strong leaders limits the growth of these groups.”  

“There was an increase in the activity of far-right extremist groups in 2010, and this activity is expected to continue in 2011,” the PST said.  

However “as in previous years, the far-right and far-left extremist communities will not represent a serious threat to Norwegian society in 2011,” the report added.  

The same report said there were indications of contacts between Norwegian far-right extremists and criminal groups, which could give far-right activists easier access to weapons and “thereby increase the potential for violence.”  

According to the TV2 channel, the arrested suspect possessed two weapons registered in his name. Other Norwegian media reported that the suspect, widely named as Anders Behring Breivik, was interested in hunting and computer games like World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare 2.  

Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has refused to comment directly on the motives of the gunman who shot dead 84 people at a summer youth camp after seven other people were killed in a bomb attack in Oslo.  

But in a press conference on Saturday, the prime minister denied that right-wing extremism was a particular problem for Norway.  

“Compared to other countries I would not say we have a big problem with right-wing extremists in Norway,” he said.  

“We have had some groups, we have followed them before, and our police is aware that there are some right-wing extreme groups, or at least have been some groups of that kind in Norway.  

“We will not speculate, we will wait for the investigation from the police before we say anything about this particular case but its part of the work of our police to follow this kind of right wing extreme group.”  

The PST report did however lay out fears of the “radicalisation” of some Islamists “who could present a direct threat to Norway in the year ahead.”

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Breivik-linked neo-Nazi held in Paris terror probe

French police arrested a notorious Norwegian neo-Nazi living in central France on Tuesday morning over fears he was plotting a massacre similar to that carried out by terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, according to a report by French radio RTL.

Breivik-linked neo-Nazi held in Paris terror probe
Norwegian killer Anders Breivik (left) appears in court in Oslo. Kristian Vikernes (right) was held in France over fears he would attempt a similar massacre. Photo: Junge/AFP/Rustem Agadamov

Kristian Vikernes, nicknamed "Wolf" (or Varg in Norwegian) who is reportedly a  sympathizer of Breivik was detained by anti-terrorist officers from France’s specialist DCRI unit on Tuesday morning at his farm in the rural Corrèze region in central France.

According to reports in the media, French intelligence services acted out of fears he could have been about to carry out a massacre, like the one committed by Breivik in Norway two years ago, when he killed 77 people in a bombing and mass shooting.

Later on Tuesday France's Interior Ministry said Vikernes was detained because he "could have been preparing carry out a major terrorist attack".

"He was a potential threat to society, as evidenced by the violence of his remarks, notably those intercepted on the internet," the ministry added in a statement.

The initial probe, opened a month ago by anti-terrorism authorities in Paris has labelled Vikernes — who investigators say wrote antisemitic and xenophobic messages online — as "dangerous", a police source told AFP.

Police acted after his French wife, the mother of his three children recently purchased four rifles. The wife has a license to own guns and is a member of a local shooting club but police feared the weapons had been bought for a far more sinister reason. The 25-year-old wife, named in French media as Marie Cachet, was also detained by police.

According to AFP officers seized several weapons at their home on Tuesday, including four 22 Caliber Long Rifles. Vikernes could be held in custody for the next 96 hours, as is allowed under French anti-terror laws.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said authorities had decided it was important to arrest Vikernes "to act before and not afterwards."

"The DCRI (French domestic intelligence service) considered that messages he had posted on the Internet expressed huge violence," he said.

"The purchase of weapons and cartridges by his wife showed that a terrorist plan was possible. To know more, to know what this plan could be… the DCRI considered it was important to arrest and question him."

Vikernes – a convicted murderer

According to news website Le Point, Vikernes settled in France after serving part of a 21-year prison sentence in Norway for stabbing a friend in the 90s.

As a prominent part of Norway’s black metal scene at the time, Vikernes, who recorded music under the moniker ‘Burzum’, was also involved in burning down at least three Christian churches in the country.

Since moving to France, he has continued to write about the purported demise of European culture, attributing the decline to immigrant communities and supposed Jewish conspiracies.

In a blog entry published on Saturday, the neo-Nazi blamed a fatal train crash near Paris the previous day on “non-European scum” and made claims that “immigrant youths” had thrown stones at emergency services personnel, while robbing from victims of the crash.

He then claimed the fact that no media outlet in France had reported any incident of this type on a Jewish conspiracy between the French government and media.

In concluding, an angry Vikernes wrote: “I am so angry, and I have been the whole day, and I just don’t understand why Europe doesn’t revolt against this… It must stop; we must take actions to end this. Before it is too late.”

The neo-Nazi's links to Breivik are unclear other than the fact it is believed Breivik sent him a 1,500-page "manifesto" entitled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, that was attributed to the terrorist and contained details of the preparation for his attacks.

However,  in a post on his blog Vikernes heavily criticised Breivik for killing innocent Norwegians. Nevertheless French police were clearly concerned that there was a link between the two.

Breivik was sentenced to a minimum of 21 years in prison in August 2012 for the mass killings after court in Norway found him sane. His sentenced can be prolonged at a later date if he is still deemed a danger to society.

Breivik insisted the killings were necessary to stop the "Islamisation" of Norway.