How did Breivik finance his July 22 terrorist attacks? Here’s what an expert says

Anders Behring BreivikPhoto: Lise Åserud / NTB
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One way of combating and preventing terrorist activity is to prevent terrorists from raising, moving, storing, and using funds for terrorism act purposes. By understanding the funding of previous attacks, we can help prevent future attacks, Nathalie Bauer, a financial security expert at Vega Integrity, says. In the article below, Bauer analyzes potential financial indicators and warning signs.

Anders Behring Breivik used around NOK 300,000 to plan the July 22, 2011, attack on Utøya.

In his “manifesto,” he claimed that he had a nine-year plan to raise funds and plan his attack. While he liked to portray himself as a successful businessman, in reality, the companies he engaged with in the early 2000s were quickly closed. 

In the aftermath of the attacks, he claimed to have placed part of the money from his third company, which sold fake diplomas, in tax havens.

His travel activity was also a subject of interest for the police investigation and the prosecution. The police found his passport, which showed that he traveled to Turkey, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Malta, Estonia, and Lithuania. Breivik explained that he traveled there to meet war heroes. He also showed an early interest in politics, as he formally joined the Progress Party (FRP) in 1999.

Getting the fertilizer and the credit cards

In 2009, he created a new company, Breivik Geofarm ENK, that he later used as a cover to buy fertilizer for the bombs and to get credit cards from the bank. Breivik contacted 16 institutions, nine of which granted him credit cards. He then started to withdraw cash, using a different card every week to avoid attracting attention.

In that same period, he started buying symbolic items like military uniforms, gold cords, and distinctions related to his right-wing extremism profile. Later he started buying materials for the terror attacks, such as a police car blue light, helmet, bulletproof vest, lasers, gas mask, weapons, etc. The equipment and items were bought mainly online via cards, PayPal, or through regular bank wire transfers.

Between March 2010 and May 2011, over 30 orders were made from different dealers from different parts of the world: the USA, England, India, Israel, Mexico, China, and Poland. He also rented a car that was used as a car bomb in the attack.

The purchases of chemicals to produce the bomb were made both via the internet and over the counter at several Norwegian dealers. After purchasing the chemicals, the terrorist was low on cash, so he decided to accelerate his plan.

Breivik has not had any major legal income and has probably not received financial gains from his legal business activities. He has had some income from the sale of false diplomas in the period 2003 to 2006, but without the credit cards, he probably would not have had enough funds to complete the production of the bomb. 

On July 22, he had a credit card debt of NOK 217,798.

Financial indicators and warning signs

Based on the activities described above, we can single out the following financial indicators that could be linked to terrorist financing and planning:

  • Transactions that show travel activities: foreign cash withdrawals and flight ticket purchases
  • Political engagement: membership in political parties and payment of membership to political groups
  • Frequent cash withdrawals
  • Customer relationships with several financial institutions for no apparent reason
  • Engaging in illegal activity or has previously engaged in illegal activity
  • Car rentals in home country, not related to vacation
  • Large cash withdrawals made from a business account which is not normally associated with cash transactions
  • Use of the credit cards not in line with the intended purpose
  • Debt
  • Multiple international transactions
  • Transaction and payments made to military equipment dealers

Combating terrorism financing in Norway

Banks and other financial institutions, auditors, accountants, and real estate agents are all entities required to report suspicion of terrorism financing to Økokrim under Norwegian law.

From the financing of the July 22 attack, we can clearly see that financial institutions need to enhance their awareness of terrorism financing risks in order to avoid being misused and providing funding for attacks.

Terrorists are concerned with operational security in the planning phase, and they take necessary steps to avoid attracting attention from the authorities. 

Entities that have a reporting obligation can make a huge difference by being at the forefront and alerting the authorities about suspicious activities.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Norway Today unless specifically stated.

About the author:

This article was written by Nathalie Bauer on behalf of Vega Integrity, a Norwegian company that offers a wide range of courses to build expertise and develop skills in anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing for professionals working with financial crimes.

Source: #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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