OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian anti-Islamic fanatic Anders Behring Breivik told a court on Thursday he had planned for even bigger attacks before killing 77 people and had prepared for the massacre by playing computer games.
On the fourth day of his trial for the attacks in July, Breivik said he had considered bombing the annual May 1 parade in Oslo, a Labour Party convention and a conference of journalists but opted for a new plan after the bomb-making took too long.
He killed eight people with a car bomb at government headquarters in Oslo, then gunned down 69 people, most of them teenagers, at a Labour Party summer youth camp on Utoeya island.
Although he pleaded not guilty, he admitted the killings, saying his victims were traitors who supported immigration and multiculturalism, threatening Norwegian ethnic purity.
Breivik gave precise details of his planning and said he had hoped to kill all 564 people on the island that day. His main target was former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, but she left before he got there. Some victims were as young as 14.
“It is not desirable to have targets under the age of 18,” he said, but added: “There was no political target on that day that was better.”
Breivik said other options he considered included a multiple bombing followed by a shooting spree. He had also sketched plans to bomb Oslo’s May 1 parade with a hijacked propane tanker, estimating that he could have killed “several thousand people”.
He picked his final targets based on what he thought was achievable.
“Now we’re starting to see what an evil man he is - cynical, cold and structured as he explains in the smallest detail what he planned,” said John Hestnes, head of a support group for survivors of the office building blast.
“This is starting to become very tough for the survivors and family members to bear.”
To prepare for the attack, Breivik said, he took an entire year off to play World of Warcraft, a multi-player role-playing game with more than 10 million subscribers, and also Modern Warfare, a first-person shooting game.
“I don’t really like those games but it is good if you want to simulate for training purposes,” Breivik said as he discussed Modern Warfare, smiling when asked about the aiming system.
Breivik, who played Modern Warfare 17 hours straight on New Year’s Eve 2010/2011, said he used such games to simulate the police response and the best escape strategy. He withdrew from friends, saying his mission outweighed personal relationships.
In 2006, he moved in with his mother to save money and rarely interrupted his game of World of Warcraft, even though his mother became anxious.
“During that year I played perhaps 16 hours a day. It was a lot. Only playing for an entire year — playing and sleeping, playing and sleeping....It was a dream I had, and I wanted to do this.”
Thomas Hylland Eriksen, a professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo, said such computer games could put Breivik in a state of delusion.
“He does not seem to be very successful at distinguishing between the virtual reality of world of Warcraft and other computer games and reality,” Eriksen told Reuters away from the court proceedings.
Tore Sinding Bekkedal, a survivor of the island massacre, said Breivik’s antics were not enough to upset him.
“I don’t believe this or that facial gesture or this or that hand greeting, it’s not going to make much of a difference, I mean you set the bar pretty high in terms of offending me when you try to kill me,” he said.
Breivik’s trial, set to last 10 weeks, turns on the question of his sanity and thus whether he can be jailed. He has said that an insanity ruling would be “worse than death”.
One court-appointed team of psychiatrists concluded he was psychotic, while a second team found him to be of sound mind.
On Wednesday he said he should either be executed or acquitted, calling the prospect of a prison sentence “pathetic”.
Additional reporting by Victoria Klesty; Editing by Matthew Tostevin