Monday 25 March 2013

Mass  Murderers  (Part 1 )


Anders Behring Breivik

This Norwegian mass murderer was born on the 13th of February 1979 and he was  the perpetrator of the sequential bombing and mass shooting on July 22,  2011 in which he bombed government buildings in Oslo, resulting in eight deaths, then carried out a mass shooting at a camp of the Workers' Youth League  of the Labour Party on the island of Utøya, where he shot and  killed 69 people, mostly teenagers. He was convicted of mass murder, causing a fatal explosion, and terrorism in August 2012 and sentenced to prison for 21 years (which is the maximum sentence for murder. More on that sentence later). 

What causes a human being to kill so many innocent human beings? Let’s look at his life as a child first.

He is the son of Wenche Behring, a nurse, and Jens David Breivik, a civil economist, who worked as a diplomat for the Norwegian Embassy in London and later Paris. He spent the first year of his life in London until his parents divorced when he was one year old. His father, who later married a diplomat, fought for his custody but failed.

When Breivik was four, two reports were filed expressing concern about his mental health, concluding that Anders ought to be removed from parental care. One psychologist in one of the reports made a note of the boy's peculiar smile, suggesting it was not anchored in his emotions but was rather a deliberate response to his environment. Perhaps this was the first sign that not everything was right in this killer’s mind.

Breivik lived with his mother and his half-sister in the west-end of Oslo and regularly visited his father and stepmother in France, until they divorced when he was 12. His mother also remarried, to a Norwegian Army officer. While his family’s name is Breivik, Behring is his mother's maiden name and it is also his middle name.

Anders Breivik had criticized both of his parents for supporting the policies of the Norwegian Labour Party, and his mother for being, in his opinion, a moderate feminist. He wrote about his upbringing: “I do not approve of the super-liberal, matriarchal upbringing as it completely lacked discipline and has contributed to feminizing me to a certain degree.”

Now as you can see, the man became an angry man because of what he thought was a failure in his upbringing. Many people feel that their parents didn’t bring them up properly but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will grow up into being a killer.

Breivik attended Smestad Grammar School, Ris Junior High, Hartvig Nissen High School and Oslo Commerce School. A former classmate later recalled that Breivik was an intelligent student who often took care of people who were bullied. That is an interesting fact in this man’s life. Generally, people who protect others don’t go out and kill innocent people later. However, was it his dislike for bullies that later became the spark that later ignited the conflagration that was to follow years later? Unfortunately, by the time he reached adolescence, Breivik's behavior was described as having become rebellious. Perhaps his rebelliousness and his dislike and perhaps his hatred for bullies set him onto the road that would lead him to a point in his life in which he would later turn into a mass killer. And when you include his anger at his parents, this may have increased the likelihood of this occurring. But there are many people who fit Breivik’s conduct when they are in their adolescence years and they aren’t killers.

His father stopped having any contact with him at age 16, in 1995. They have not been in contact since then. The opposite view is claimed by Breivik's father, that it was his son who broke off contact with him and that he would always have welcomed Anders despite his destructive activities. At this age he also lost contact with his closest friends. This would slowly but in variably turn him into a loner. That becomes a time in such a person’s life so eventually he would gradually have a hatred for people in general.

It is at this point in his life that the previous problems he had come to the fore when he became a loner and that mixture can easily light the fires that turn into a conflagration that becomes uncontrollable.

Breivik was exempt from conscription to military service in the Norwegian Army and had no military training.The Norwegian Defence Security Department, which conducts the vetting process, said that he was deemed ‘unfit for service’ at the mandatory conscript assessment. No doubt, a psychological assessment was undertaken and that is why he was probably considered unfit to serve. 

In 1997, at age 18, he lost 2 million krone ($369,556) in the stock market. I don’t have any idea where he got that kind of money but the loss would have been a tragic event in his life and as such, his anger would have increased considerably both at the investment firm that lost his money and himself for being so stupid as to put his money in one investment plan.

After he passed the age of 21, Breivik was in the customer service department of an unnamed company, working with people from all countries and being kind to everyone. A former co-worker described him as an exceptional colleague, while a close friend of his stated that his ego and would be easily irritated by those of Middle Eastern or South Asian origin.

At the age of 23, he founded his own computer programming business while working at the customer service company. He claims that his company grew to six employees and he had several offshore bank accounts. He made his first million kroner at the age of 24. The company was later declared bankrupt. The fact that his company went bankrupt doesn’t change the fact that he was a very intelligent man.

However, like many intelligent people, Breivik was reported to the police for several breaches of the law. He then moved back to his mother's home, to save money rather than rent a room elsewhere.  His declared assets in 2007 were about NOK 630,000. (US$116,410 according to Norwegian tax authority figures)
After he was arrested for the mass murders, the first set of psychiatrists who evaluated him said in their report his mental health deteriorated in and about 2007 and he went into a state of withdrawal and isolation. This is a common trait with mass murderers.

In 2009, he visited Prague in an attempt to buy illegal weapons. He was unable to obtain a weapon there, so Breivik decided to obtain weapons through legal channels in Norway instead. He obtained one semi-automatic 9 mm Glock 17 pistol legally by showing that he was a member of a pistol club to the police when he applied for his gun license. He also bought a semi-automatic Ruger Mini-14 rifle by showing that he had a hunting licence.

Breivik's manifesto (a declaration of one’s views) included other writings detailing views on life etc. He used to play video games such as World of Warcraft to relax, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for training-simulation. He further told a court in April 2012 that he trained for shooting guns by using a holographic device while playing the computer game Call of Duty.

Breivik had no declared income in 2009 and his assets amounted to 390,000 kroner ($72,063), according to Norwegian tax authority figures Breivik stated that in January 2010, his funds were slowly depleting. On June 23, 2011, a month before the attacks, he paid the outstanding amount on his nine credit cards so he could have access to funds during his preparations.

In late June or early July 2011, he moved to a rural area south of Åsta in Åmot, Hedmark County, about 140 km (87 mi) northeast of Oslo, the site of his farm. As he admitted in his manifesto, he used his company as a cover to legally obtain large amounts of artificial fertilizer and other chemicals for the manufacturing of explosives. A farming supplier sold Breivik's company six metric tonnes of fertilizer in May. The chemical compound ammonium nitrate is a white crystalline solid chemical at room temperature. It is commonly used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertilizer, and it has also been used as an oxidizing agent in explosives, including improvised explosive devices.

The newspaper Verdens Gang reported that after Breivik bought a small quantity of an explosive primer from an online shop in Poland, his name was among 60 passed to the Police Security Service (PST) by Norwegian Customs as having bought those products at that store. Speaking to the newspaper, Jon Fitje of PST said the information they found gave no indication of anything suspicious. Quite frankly, I find that observation ridiculous.

In his manifesto, Breivik described his first experiments with explosives, and detailed his successful test detonation at a remote location on tJune 13, 2011. He sets the cost of the preparations for the attacks at € 317,000 –130,000 out of pocket and 187,500 euros in lost revenue over three years.

Breivik's farmer neighbour described him as looking like a city dweller, who wore expensive shirts and who knew nothing about rural ways. Breivik had also covered up the windows of his house. The owner of a local bar, who once worked as a profiler of passengers' body language at Oslo airport, said there was nothing strange about Breivik, who was an occasional customer at the bar. That doesn’t surprise me a bit. Killers can mask their real intentions quite effectively.

On the 22nd of July 2011, Breivik placed his bomb in a vehicle next to government buildings in Oslo, which resulted in eight deaths. Within hours after the explosion, he arrived at Utøya island, the site of a Labour Party youth camp, posing as a police officer and then opened fire on the unarmed adolescents present, killing 69 of them. The youngest victim was Sharidyn Svebakk-Bøhn of Drammen, who was 14 years old. Another victim was Trond Berntsen, the step-brother of Crown Princess Mette-Marit (the son of Princess Mette-Marit’s late stepfather).

When an armed police SWAT unit from Oslo arrived much later on the island and confronted him, he surrendered without resistance. After his arrest, he was held by armed police on the island, and interrogated throughout the night, before being moved to a holding cell in Oslo. On the way to his first jail meeting, Breivik's police escort was met with an angry crowd, some of whom shouted “burn in hell” or “traitor”, while some used even stronger words.

Breivik confessed to the crimes and stated that the purpose of the attack was to save Norway and Western Europe from a Muslim takeover, and that the Labour Party had to pay the price for “letting down Norway and the Norwegian people”.

Breivik has been remanded at Ila Prison since his arrest. While there, he has at his disposal three prison cells. One where he can rest, sleep and watch DVD movies or television, a second is set up for him to use a computer without any Internet connection, and in a third cell there was gym equipment that he could use. Only selected prison staff with special qualifications was allowed to work around him, and the prison management aimed to not let his presence as a high-security prisoner affect any of the other inmates. If they knew about the special treatment he was getting, they would have been extremely upset. Subsequent to the January 2012 removing of letters and visitors censorship for Breivik, he received a number of inquiries from private individuals, and he devoted some of his time to writing back to like-minded people. That was also a big mistake on the part of the prison authorities. According to one of his attorneys Breivik was curious to learn whether his manifesto has begun to take root in society.
Breivik's attorneys in consultation with Breivik were considering having some of his interlocutors called as witness during his trial. Several newspapers, both Norwegian and international had requested interviews with Breivik. The first such was cancelled by the prison administration following a background check of the journalist in question. A second interview has been agreed to by Breivik, and the prison has requested a background check to be done by the police in the country where the journalist was from.

 Now the issue of his sanity came into focus.

Breivik underwent his first examination by court-appointed forensic psychiatrists in the autumn of 2011. The psychiatrists diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia. Signs and symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia may include auditory hallucinations, such as hearing voices, delusions, such as believing a co-worker wants to poison you, anxiety, anger, emotional distance, violence, (the aggression may reach levels in which violent outbursts occur), argumentativeness, self-important or condescending manner, suicidal thoughts and behavior.

The psychiatrists concluded that Breivic had developed this disorder over some period of time and was psychotic both when he carried out the attacks and during the later observation of the psychiatrists. He was also diagnosed with abuse of non-dependence-producing substances antecedent on July 22. The psychiatrists consequently found Breivik to be criminally insane.

I don’t have a problem with their assessment of Breivic that he was a paranoid schizophrenic and as such, was close to being psychotic but I dispute that he was actually insane. The use of the term today is considered primarily a legal term and not a psychiatric term when used to determine a defendant's ability to differentiate right from wrong when he or she commits a crime. Most courts accept a major mental illness such as psychosis as a sign of insanity but will not accept the diagnosis of a personality disorder for the purposes deciding the merits of an insanity defense. The real question that the court must determine is whether the psychosis that the defendant suffers from interfered with the defendant's ability to distinguish right from wrong. That is, did the defendant know that the alleged behavior was against the law at the time the offense was committed. If he did, then he wasn’t insane when he committed the crime.

According to the report, Breivik displayed inappropriate and blunted affect and a severe lack of empathy. He spoke incoherently in neologisms and had acted compulsively based on a universe of bizarre, grandiose and delusional thoughts. Breivik alluded to himself as the future regent of Norway, master of life and death, while calling himself "inordinately loving" and "Europe's most perfect knight since WWII". He was convinced that he was a warrior in a "low intensity civil war" and had been chosen to save his people. To the psychiatrists, Breivik described plans to carry out further "executions of categories A, B and C traitors" by the thousands, themselves included, and to organize Norwegians in reservations for the purpose of selective breeding. Breivik believed himself to be the Knight Justiciar grand master of a Templar organization. He was deemed to be suicidal and homicidal by the psychiatrists. This is clear evidence that he is suffering from some form of mental illness but just because a person has strange ideas and acts strangely doesn’t necessarily mean that he is insane.  

According to his defence attorney, Breivik initially expressed surprise and felt insulted by the conclusions in the report. He later stated that “this provides new opportunities.” I have no idea what was in his mind when he said that he had new opportunities.

The decision of Breivik's first competency evaluation was fiercely debated in Norway by mental health experts, over the court-appointed psychiatrists' opinion with respect to Norway’s definition of criminal insanity. An extended panel of experts from the Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine reviewed the submitted report and nevertheless approved it “with no significant remarks.”  

 News in the meantime emerged that the psychiatric medical staff in charge of treating prisoners at the Ila Detention and Security Prison did not make any observations that suggested he suffered from either psychosis, depression or was suicidal. According to senior psychiatrist Randi Rosenqvist, who was commissioned by the prison to examine Breivik, he concluded that Breivik appeared to have personality disorders. There is no doubt in my mind that that mass killer certainly had personality disorders.  

Lawyers representing families and victims filed requests to the court asking the court to order a second opinion, while the prosecuting authority and Breivik's lawyer initially did not want new experts to be appointed. On January 13, 2012, after much public pressure, the Oslo District Court ordered a second expert panel to evaluate Breivik's mental state. Breivik initially refused to cooperate with the new psychiatrists. He later changed his mind and in late February 2012, a new period of psychiatric observation was ordered and this time using different methods than when the first period, was begun. 
If the original diagnosis was upheld by the court, it would mean that Breivik could not be sentenced to prison since insane defendants are sent to a psychiatric facility instead. Medical advice would then determine after some period of treatment whether or not the court should decide to release him at some later point. If on the other hand, the psychiatrists considered that there was no change, then they would consider him to be a perpetual danger to society and Breivik then could be kept confined in a psychiatric facility for the criminally insane for the rest of his life.  

Shortly after the second period of psychiatric observations made prior to the trial was begun, the prosecution stated that they expected that Breivik would be declared legally insane. However, on April 10, 2012, the second psychiatric evaluation was published with the conclusion that Breivik was not psychotic during the attacks and he was not psychotic during their evaluation. Instead, they diagnosed antisocial personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.

A ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ is a form of a ‘personality disorder’ in which the individual is described as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity. This condition affects one percent of the population. First formulated in 1968, it was historically called megalomania, and it is closely linked to egocentrism.

In my respectful opinion, it is my belief that this mass killer was indeed suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder and for this reason, not psychotic even though he was delusional. 

Breivik meanwhile had expressed hope at being declared sane in a letter sent to several Norwegian newspapers shortly before his trial, writing about the prospect of being sent to a psychiatric ward he stated: “I must admit this is the worst thing that could have happened to me as it is the ultimate humiliation. To send a political activist to a mental hospital is more sadistic and evil than to kill him! It is a fate worse than death.”

I think his real concern was that if he was declared insane, then his writings and his written and published manifesto would be considered by all as the ravings of a lunatic.

On the 8th of June 2012, Professor of Psychiatry Ulrik Fredrik Malt testified in court as an expert witness, stating that he finds it unlikely that Breivik was schizophrenic. According to Malt, Breivik suffers from Asperger syndrome, Tourette syndrome, narcissistic personality disorder and possibly paranoid psychosis.

Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Breivik was certainly linguistic and cognitive of what he was doing. People suffering from Asperger syndrome are physically clumsy and I don’t think that fitted the mannerisms of Breivik. Further, he certainly didn’t lack nonverbal communication skills. For these reasons, I doubt that he was suffering from Asperger syndrome.

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder where a person has both motor and vocal tics. Doctors and scientists don't know the exact cause of TS, but some research suggests that it occurs when there's a problem with how nerves communicate in the brain. A disturbance in the balance in neurotransmitters — chemicals in the brain that carry nerve signals from cell to cell — may play a role in TS. The most dramatic and disabling tics (uncontrollable motor movements)  that result in self-harm such as punching oneself in the face or vocal tics including coprolalia (uttering socially inappropriate words such as swearing) or echolalia (repeating the words or phrases of others).

If he was suffering from this form of ailment, I think there would have been some evidence of that prior to him killing all those people because this illness is inherited. He would have had this kind of illness when he was a child and even while growing into adulthood.

I think Professor Malt was wrong with respect to the diagnosis of those two ailments.

On the 24th of August 2012, Breivik was adjudged sane and sentenced to imprisonment for 21 years which includes a minimum time of 10 years. This is the maximum penalty in Norway irrespective as to how many murders are committed by one person. However, in Norway, the word containment refers to a special form of prison sentence that can be extended indefinitely, (which was attached to his prison sentence. In all likelihood, it will apply to this mass killer if he is deemed to still be a danger to society when his 21 years of imprisonment is completed. He had vowed in court testimony that he would do the killings again if he ever has the chance to. He showed no sign of penance when it was pointed out to him that he had murdered teenaged children. In fact, he was silenced by the court when after sentencing, in his brief statement (which the court had a copy of it) he was about to apologize for not killing more people.

I believe that even if he convinces psychiatrists that he has reformed, it is very highly unlikely that the Norwegian authorities will risk submitting themselves to the fury of the people of Norway by releasing this detestable human being after him serving only 21 years. That would mean that he would in effect be serving a little over 3 years for each person he killed. It would put his life as a human being in a higher standing that any of the 77 victims he murdered.

Unfortunately Norway does not have the death penalty so finalizing his existence that way isn’t available to the people of that nation.

Breivik's lead counsel Geir Lippestad confirmed that his client will not appeal the sentence. I hardly think that Breivik will have the same prison accommodations he had prior to and during his trial. He will no doubt be placed in a small cell and never be permitted to mingle with other prisoners. However, like all prisoners who serve their imprisonment in solitary confinement, he will probably be permitted to have a half hour or an hour to be outside his cell each day for showering or indulging in some form of physical exercise. His imprisonment for life in this manner will be a fitting way to punish this mass murderer—by boring him to death while he rants and raves to the walls that surround him.   




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