Norway killer sharpened aim on computer games


Anders Behring Breivik is pictured during his trial at the central court in Oslo on April 20, 2012. Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway last July, took the stand again on the third day of his trial, a day after telling the court he would carry out his attacks again if he could. Getty Images

Breivik said he played the computer game “Modern Warfare” for 16 months starting in January 2010, primarily to get a feel for how to use rifle sights. In 2006 he devoted a full year to playing “World of Warcraft,” for 16 hours a day, he said.

USA TOday | Apr 21, 2012

OSLO, Norway (AP) – Anders Behring Breivik knew it would take practice to be able to slaughter dozens of people before being shot by police.

Breivik, who styles himself as a modern-day crusader, has confessed to the attacks but rejects criminal guilt, saying he was acting to protect Norway and Europe by targeting a left-leaning political party he claims have betrayed the country by opening it up to immigration.

Since Breivik has admitted to the bombing in Oslo that killed eight people and the shooting massacre at the Labor Party youth camp that left 69 dead, the key issue of the trial is to establish whether he is criminally insane.

For the first time since the trial started, Breivik didn’t flash his right-wing salute when he entered the courtroom Thursday, heeding the advise of his defense lawyer. But those who were hoping for signs of regret were disappointed.

The 33-year-old Norwegian was ice cold when he once again described his victims as “traitors” for their links to Norway’s governing Labor Party.

“Militant nationalists are split in two,” Breivik said. “One half says you should attack Muslims and minorities. The other half says you should attack elites, those who are responsible.”

The government building he tried to blow up was “the most attractive political target in all of Norway,” he said.

He was disappointed to hear on a car radio as he was driving to the youth camp on Utoya island that the building didn’t collapse.

Breivik said he had planned to capture and decapitate former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland while filming it, but she had left Utoya earlier that day.

The self-styled crusader said he was inspired by al-Qaida’s use of decapitation, but noted that “beheading is a traditional European death penalty.”

“It was meant to be used as a very powerful psychological weapon,” he said.

Brundtland was prime minister for the Labor Party for 10 years. She later headed the World Health Organization and was appointed as a U.N. climate change envoy in 2007.

Her adviser, Jon Moerland, told The Associated Press, “Gro Harlem Brundtland has no comment on the information provided by Breivik, nor the court case in general.”

Breivik said he played the computer game “Modern Warfare” for 16 months starting in January 2010, primarily to get a feel for how to use rifle sights. In 2006 he devoted a full year to playing “World of Warcraft,” for 16 hours a day, he said.

Since Breivik has admitted to the bombing in Oslo that killed eight people and the shooting massacre at the Labor Party youth camp that left 69 dead, the key issue of the trial is to establish whether he is criminally insane.

For the first time since the trial started, Breivik didn’t flash his right-wing salute when he entered the courtroom Thursday, heeding the advise of his defense lawyer. But those who were hoping for signs of regret were disappointed.

The 33-year-old Norwegian was ice cold when he once again described his victims as “traitors” for their links to Norway’s governing Labor Party.

“Militant nationalists are split in two,” Breivik said. “One half says you should attack Muslims and minorities. The other half says you should attack elites, those who are responsible.”

Christopher Ferguson, of Texas A&M International University, said there is no link between violent video games and violent behavior. Though some research suggests that action games can improve “visuospatial cognition,” he said it’s difficult to say whether Breivik could have improved his accuracy by playing “Modern Warfare.”

“Let us keep in mind too that he was shooting kids on an island from which they could not escape easily,” Ferguson said. “That does not require great accuracy.”

Breivik said his original plans were to set off three bombs in Oslo, including at the royal palace, but building just one fertilizer bomb turned out to be “much more difficult than I thought.”

His preferred targets for the shooting massacre were an annual conference of Norwegian journalists or the Labor Party’s annual meeting. But he couldn’t get prepared in time, so he decided on striking against the summer retreat of the Labor Party’s youth wing.

Breivik said he had expected to be confronted by armed police when he left Oslo for Utoya island, armed with a handgun and a rifle — both named after Norse gods.

“I estimated the chances of survival as less than 5 percent,” he said.

During his testimony, Breivik calmly answers questions from prosecutors, except when they ask about the alleged anti-Muslim “Knights Templar” network he claims to belong to. Prosecutors say they don’t believe it exists.

When he smiled at one point during questioning Wednesday, Prosecutor Svein Holden asked him how he thought the bereaved watching the proceedings in court would react to that.

“They probably react in a natural way, with horror and disgust,” Breivik said. He said he smiled because he knew where Holden was going with his line of questioning.

The main point of his defense is to avoid an insanity ruling, which would deflate his political arguments. He repeatedly accuses prosecutors of trying to “ridicule” him by highlighting portions of a rambling, 1,500-page manifesto he posted before the attacks.

In it — and in a shortened version he read to the court on Tuesday — he said the “Knights Templar” will lead a revolt against “multiculturalist” governments around Europe, with the aim of deporting Muslims.

If found sane, Breivik could face a maximum 21-year prison sentence or an alternate custody arrangement that would keep him locked up as long as he is considered a menace to society. If declared insane, he would be committed to psychiatric care for as long as he’s considered ill.

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