A noted European anti-racism organization reported Tuesday that it has uncovered emails between Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik and the English Defence League (EDL), a far-right anti-Muslim street-protest organization, sent just four months before the attack in Oslo Friday that left 76 people, most of them teenagers, dead.
The EDL on Monday published an angry denial of any links between the group and Breivik, calling it “shameful that journalists have been all too quick to link the English Defence League to this murderous creature.” But on Tuesday, the anti-racism group Searchlight released transcripts of emails it says were exchanged between the EDL and someone – apparently Breivik – who went by the pseudonym Sigurd Jorsalfare, the name of a 12th Century Norwegian king who led one of the Crusades.
According to The Guardian, EDL leader Stephen Lennon on Tuesday backtracked from the categorical denial issued Monday, and said he has asked regional EDL leaders to determine if Breivik had in fact made contact with members, as the gunman claims in the 1,516-page manifesto he posted online hours before his attack.
The EDL, dedicated to opposing Islamic influence on British society, quickly became one of Great Britain’s most influential right-wing street-protest organizations after its formation in 2009. Though it claims to be peaceful, patriotic and open to people of all backgrounds, it has attracted an inordinate number of racists, fascists, so-called “football hooligans” and neo-Nazis to its ranks, and its street demonstrations have often turned violent. The veracity of the group’s claims of working to purge such elements from its ranks is a matter of debate.
America’s most prominent anti-Muslim activists, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, co-leaders of the SPLC-designated hate group Stop Islamization of America, had considered themselves stalwart allies of the EDL until June, when the pair had a falling out with the British group over the dismissal of the leader of its “Jewish division,” and Geller’s belated concerns about the presence of neo-Nazi elements in the organization. Previously, Geller extolled the virtues of the EDL, once calling them “courageous English patriots.” She invited EDL officials including Lennon, who also is known by the name Tommy Robinson, to New York in September 2010 to take part in a protest of the Park51 project – which Geller dubbed the “Ground Zero Mega-mosque.” Tipped off by British authorities, U.S. officials refused to allow Lennon to enter the country because of his EDL ties.
According to Searchlight, Breivik, writing as “Sigurd,” expressed his solidarity with the EDL in a March 9 email (as transcribed by Searchlight, with typographical errors included): “Hello. To you all good English men and women, just wanted to say that you're a blessing to all in Europe, in these dark times all of Europe are looking to you in surch of inspiration, courage and even hope that we might turn this evil trend with islamisation all across our continent. Well, just wanted to say keep up the good work it's good to see others that care about their country and heritage. All the best to you all Sigurd.”
“Sigurd” later described his disgust for Norwegian society as led by the liberal Norwegian Labour Party. “The biggest problem in norway is that there is no real free press, there is a left-wing angle on all the political topics so most people are going around like idiots. And offcourse with our norwegian labour party beeing in power for most of the last 50 years dont help. but i i think there is an awakening now atleast i hope so. Do some of you know the truth about what happened to the ndl [Norwegian Defence League, an EDL affiliate], there was some clames that neo-nazis had hijacked the organisation, but on the ndl site i cant really say i noticed anything like that. So may guess is that there were some kind of police pressure to stop the movement. Anyone here heard anything?”
In another posting he attacked British society and expressed his interest in joining an EDL protest: “i've seen with my own eyes what has happened to england, i was in bradford some years ago, me and a friend walked down to the football stadium of bradford, real ‘nice’ neighborhood, same thing in the suburbs of london. well thinking about taking a little trip over the sea and join you in a demo. would be nice with a norwegian flag alongside with union jack or the english flag, that is if a norwegian would be welcome offcourse?”
EDL supporters told Breivik he would be welcomed. To this, he replied, “I hoped so:) it's our common struggle against the islamofacists.”
According to Searchlight, Breivik “went quiet” shortly after this exchange, shut down his Facebook page, and was not heard from again until Friday’s rampage.
Searchlight also detailed Breivik’s links with members of the Norwegian Defence League, which has attracted “convicted nazis and exiled Russians belonging to the banned Slavic Union” despite purported efforts to remove such characters from its membership.
In his manifesto, Breivik spoke admiringly of the EDL, praising it as the model organization for opposing “cultural Marxism” and what he sees as the anti-European motives of political liberalism. Breivik wrote, “It is highly advisable to structure any
street protest organisation after the English Defence League (EDL) model as it is the only way to avoid paralyzing scrutiny and persecution.” He claimed to have had numerous online conversations with EDL members; “In fact,” he wrote, “I was one of the individuals who supplied them with processed ideological material (including rhetorical strategies) in the very beginning.”
Breivik did, however, chastise EDL for ostensibly believing that democracy and multiculturalism could still work. “[T]his is why, we, the KT [Knights Templar, the organization Breivik says he is a part of and that he believes will lead the ethnic cleansing and salvation of Europe] view the EDL as naïve fools, wasting all their energy monkey-screaming to deaf ears while they should instead have focused on means and methods that are meaningful in regards to achieving true political change, in regards to tearing down the multiculturalist regime known as Britain. Unfortunately, the only meaningful resistance at this point in time is to use military force. So instead of monkey-screaming, they should instead focus on strategically demolishing one of the many British nuclear power plants, which effectively would completely cripple the British economy, contributing to creating an optimal climate for significant political change.”
In its Monday press release, the EDL cited this passage as proof that Breivik was not ideologically aligned with EDL, though in context it appears he was only criticizing EDL for not being sufficiently radical.