RENA, Norway - On a taxi ride to his farmhouse the day before he killed 77 people, Anders Behring Breivik talked easily of a future he must have known would never come.
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Police believe the 32-year-old Norwegian had just deposited one of two vehicles -- either the car carrying the bomb that would devastate Norway's government district or the van he would use to help get him to a political youth camp -- in downtown Oslo. He then caught a train back to Rena where he flagged down the silver-grey Mercedes station wagon driven by 40-year-old Ariid Tangen.
As the pair drove through the rolling countryside to the home where Breivik had written his 1,518-page "manifesto" and spent months planning his attack, the self-proclaimed defender of Europe made small talk.
"We spoke all the way and had a nice talk about nothing: the weather, the farm and that he wanted to be a farmer," Tangen told Reuters a few days later. "He said he hired the farm to live like a farmer and that, if he liked it, he would buy one for himself."
At no stage on the 12-km (7-mile) journey, Tangen said, did Breivik give any hint of what was to come.
"In my mind I've gone through it all in the most tiny detail," the taxi
driver said. "He had no nerves, he joked, he laughed. I just can't get
my mind round how he did it. He must have just... parked the bomb."
For many Norwegians, still numbed by the worst violence in the country
since World War Two, the fact the alleged killer looked and acted so
normally is one of the most disturbing aspects of the attacks.
"What keeps me awake at night is that he is not a monster," wrote Peter
Svaar, a Norwegian journalist who was at school with Breivik as a young
teenager. "He is a normal Norwegian boy."
Most of those close to Breivik have gone to ground since the attacks of
July 22. Phones are left answered and a policeman who answered the door
of Breivik's mother's upmarket Oslo house simply smiled and said
"There's no one home."
And while some of those prepared to speak say there was always something
odd about the quiet, serious young man, others insist they saw no
warning signs at all.
"He was a normal, well-behaved Norwegian boy," his former stepmother
Tove Oevermo told Reuters in a short telephone interview. "There were no
signs."As a child Breivik always pushed the limits
Breivik's upbringing was remarkably privileged, even by Norwegian
standards. He went to the same Oslo primary school as Crown Prince
Haakon, who was a few years older.
At Handelsgymnasium, a high school in central Oslo where parents of new
students are treated to an organist playing music by Edward Elgar,
Breivik would have been surrounded not only by a keen sense of tradition
but by his country's future business and political leaders.
"I haven't really had any negative experiences in my childhood in any way," Breivik himself wrote of his upbringing.
But some of those who knew him say that even as a child Breivik always pushed the limits.
"He seemed a tough guy who could do things that were unthinkable for us.
Like spitting in the cellar, urinating in the neighbour's storeroom and
took great pleasure in killing ants," Lina Engelsrud, a childhood
friend who knew him from roughly the age of 3 to 14 wrote in Aura Avis, a
Crime researchers speculate that Breivik may have struggled to cope with
the absence of a high-achieving diplomat father who abandoned the
family when his son was only one. Jens Breivik worked for the Foreign
Ministry from 1966-96, ministry spokesman Frode Andersen said. Breivik
senior served postings in London, Tehran and Paris before retiring in
Jens and his new wife Tove -- another career diplomat -- briefly sued
for custody of the young Anders, he writes, but lost the case. He
occasionally visited them in France, he says, but grew up with his
mother Wenche, a nurse, and her new husband, a Norwegian army officer.
Breivik says his youth was dominated by strong "matriarchal" figures he
worries "feminised" him, devoting a significant proportion of its
manifesto to bemoaning the decline of conventional "fatherhood" in
western Europe in general.
"The absence of fatherhood has created a society full of social
pathologies, and the lack of male self-confidence has made us easy prey
to our enemies," he said. "If the West is to survive, we need to
reassert a healthy dose of male authority."
Contact with his father was broken off completely, Breivik says, after
he got into trouble for graffiti during his teens -- although he
remained in contact with his stepmother. He said his father had also
isolated himself from his other four children "so it is pretty clear
whose fault that was". Breivik talks of his occasional desire for a
rapprochement, but says it never happened.
Speaking to Norwegian television from France after the attack last
month, Breivik's father said he sometimes wished his son had killed
himself rather than attack others.
"Maybe he felt he was not as good as his father, but this is just
speculation," Ragnhild Bjoernebekk, a researcher at Norway's police
school who specialises in crime and violence, told Reuters.Breivik said speculation he was gay was 'hilarious'
Alternately, Bjoernebekk hypothesizes that Breivik might have been upset
when a lover rejected him. Breivik wrote disapprovingly of some of his
friends, saying they had 700 sexual partners.
"I have lived quite ascetic, a lifestyle that wouldn't appeal to that
many," he wrote. "However, if I wanted I could have more or less
everything I set my mind on."
Some of his friends and his sister repeatedly tried to persuade him to
find a girlfriend, he said, but that would not have fitted with his
plan. His priority, he wrote, was safeguarding his mission.
"A couple of my friends have their suspicions," he wrote. "I have
managed to channel these suspicions far away from relating my political
convictions. Instead, they suspect that I am playing WOW (the computer
game World of Warcraft)... and a couple of them believe that I have
chosen semi-isolation because of some alleged homosexual relationship
which they suspect I am trying to hide."
Such an idea was "hilarious" he said, as he was "100% hetero".
Breivik makes clear in his journal that he deliberately chose a social
circle he believed would not suspect and would not get in his way. His
descriptions of his friends are sometimes affectionate, sometimes
terrifyingly cold. He wrote about one friend, Marius, who "was a
fireman, which is quite ironic as I will soon ensure he gets his hands
"I ... only corresponded with moderate people who had no clue whatsoever about my clandestine activities," he wrote.
In another entry, he suggests he might shoot his landlord's girlfriend
if she came to the farm building unexpectedly and discovered his
He wrote of his affection for his stepmother but says that because she
had worked as a senior official in Norway's immigration agency -- which
he blamed for the arrival of foreign Muslims -- she, like many others,
deserved to die.
"Although I care for her a great deal, I wouldn't hold it against the KT
(Knights Templar) if she was executed in an attack ... as she used to
be a primary tool and category B traitor for the multiculturalist regime
The Knights Templar Breivik mentions appear to be a disparate collection
of right-wing fanatics including former Serb war criminals and English
nationalists, all planning semi-independent action.Manifesto gives some clues to Breivik's motivation
Breivik's vast document, posted on the Internet and e-mailed to hundreds
of contacts a few hours before the attack, gives us some clues to what
drove him: the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, a 2002 meeting in London
with other extremists and attempted muggings by migrants on Oslo
But investigators and other analysts say the document may also be
riddled with inaccuracies and that Breivik's talent for deceit may also
have extended to self-delusion. All his testimony shows for sure, they
say, is a troubled man who believed killing would bring readers to his
thoughts and give his life the meaning it seemed otherwise to lack.
European police are urgently checking his claims of a wider network but
say they believe he likely acted alone. Whilst his focus on publicity
and political effect might be borrowed in part from other militant
groups such as Al Qaeda, who he had clearly studied and expressed a
grudging respect for, they say a closer comparison might be other lone
gunmen behind one-off attacks in Europe and North America.
"To shoot like this tells of a person without emotion, without
empathy...controlled in a very extraordinary way," said Bjoernebekk.
"There are similarities to Columbine and Virginia Tech," she said, referring to the U.S. school shootings in 1999 and 2007.
Pat Brown, a Washington D.C.-based criminal profiler, said that, like
Breivik, the school shooters and other attackers such as Oklahoma City
bomber Timothy McVeigh often had similar messiah-like delusions.
"They decide they want to get their day in the sun and get their names
in the newspapers, even if they are killed in the process," he said.
"Most of it is about fantasy."Breivik 'never mentioned anything xenophobic'
Exactly how Breivik got the money to rent his farm building, buy the
materials for the attack and survive without employment for several
years is not clear.
Breivik boasts of his successful business career, saying he made his
first million Norwegian crowns ($185,000) by the age of 24, then more in
share speculation. But he says he lost another 2 million crowns in less
As with much else in his story, there may be an element of
self-mythologising. The businessman whom Breivik calls his "mentor" in
his manifesto disputes the relationship was ever that close.
"I have never acted as, nor accepted the role of any kind of mentor for
him," Richard Steenfeldt Berg wrote on his Facebook page, admitting "I
met this monster 11 years ago."
He said he barely noticed Breivik's radical right-wing views. "He never
-- oddly in hindsight -- mentioned anything xenophobic," he wrote.
"However, I remember once, I was criticizing the immigration policies of
the populist right wing. He went silent and left."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of those who might have been expected to
know the Norwegian killer claim to barely remember him. Breivik claimed
that he once belonged to the Progress Party, an opposition populist
right-wing group, and even stood as a candidate for Oslo city council in
2003 before deciding the party was not radical enough.
But a party spokesman said Breivik "was anonymous. At official meetings,
at parties, at dinners we cannot find a single picture of him. There is
no trace of him writing anything."
In one journal entry, Breivik wrote of one of his frequent trips into a
nearby town to buy takeaway food. A "hot" girl in the restaurant checked
him out, he said, prompting Breivik to worry that his smart clothes and
good looks made him stand out too much in the rural area 100 km from
But nearby residents remember him more for his awkwardness and lack of knowledge of farming terminology.
That impression looks to have lasted even up to the point where he
stepped onto the ferry to the island on which he would kill most of his
victims. Dressed in a police uniform, his manner and particularly his
non-official vehicle put some passers-by on edge.
"I remember I reacted that that the man came in a civilian vehicle and I
am 100 percent sure I said...that we ought to check his identity and
joked that he wasn't from the police," wrote Haakon Sandbakken, 22, who
also took the ferry.
But once again, no one challenged Breivik. Moments later, he was ashore and shooting.