Norway killer was flagged by anti-terror operation

AP News
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Posted: Aug 26, 2011 2:16 PM
Norway killer was flagged by anti-terror operation

Four months before Anders Behring Breivik went on his killing rampage in Norway, a global operation that monitors trading in bomb-making materials told the nation's police that he had bought chemicals from a Polish company, a customs official said Friday. But police did not act on the information.

On July 22, Breivik killed 77 people in a bombing in Norway's capital and a shooting rampage on a nearby island, and he has since confessed to the mass killings.

Geir Hoiseth, who heads the border control department of Norway's customs agency, said Breivik's name came up as a result of the Global Shield program, a U.S. initiative, after he bought chemicals from a Polish firm.

Hoiseth said customs officials passed the information to Norway's security police, PST, in March. PST has confirmed that it was alerted to Breivik's purchase of chemicals from the company, but has said the transaction was legal and there wasn't enough information to warrant further investigation.

PST didn't return calls Friday.

"We just found traces that he has been in connection with a company that deals with this kind of pyrotechnical goods," Hoiseth told The Associated Press. "It was supplementary information regarding Global Shield ... based on Global Shield observations."

Hoiseth declined to give more details except to say that customs officials "simply suspected that he could be involved in a suspicious shipment, and was on a list of more than 60 other people."

Breivik has admitted he was behind the bombing outside the government headquarters in Oslo and the shooting spree at a summer camp on Utoya island organized by youth wing of the governing Labor Party, killing 68. His lawyer has said Breivik denies criminal responsibility, saying he's in a state of war.

In a manifesto released just before the attacks, Breivik describes ordering sodium nitrate and aluminum powder from a Polish company, as well as other chemicals that can be used in explosives from other suppliers.

He says he was concerned about customs seizing the 0.3 kilo (0.66-pound) shipment of sodium nitrate "and/or informing authorities but it appears this didn't happen."

Investigators have said Breivik's low-key and law-abiding lifestyle before the attacks made it difficult to pinpoint him as a potential threat. They say he kept his plans to himself, and have found no evidence to support his claims of being part of a network with other militant cells.

On Thursday, police questioned Paul Ray, an Englishman who writes an anti-Muslim blog, over claims that he is the British mentor that Breivik refers to in his manifesto.

"I have been completely honest and open with the police ... and they know I don't have anything to do with this," Ray told Norwegian news agency NTB. "Basically I'm just answering questions they need to prove that I'm not his mentor."

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AP writer Matti Huuhtanen in Helsinki contributed to this report.