Oslo killer sought weapons from Prague’s underworld

The self-confessor author of last week’s Norwegian attack came to the Czech capital to do an arms deal with the criminal underworld

Society|Foreign Affairs
Chris Johnstone | 25.07.2011
Inspired by a BBC documentary, Anders Behring Breivik visited two Prague brothels and a couple of sex clubs in an attempt to procure and test fire an AK-47 assault rifle

The Norwegian man who has admitted to going on a shooting spree last week and detonating a bomb in the capital, Oslo, killing more than 90 people in total, came to the Czech capital in September 2010 in search of guns for his long-planned act of terror.

Anders Behring Breivik, 32, gives a detailed account of his trip to the Czech capital in his more than 1,500 page political manifesto and account of his preparations for the attack on July 22. He used the alias Andrew Berwick for the account.

Breivik spent six days in Prague pursuing what he described as “the weapons connection” — an attempt to buy an AK-47 assault rifle and Glock semi-automatic pistol by approaching the city’s criminal underworld.

‘Prague is known for maybe being the most important transit site point for illicit drugs and weapons in Europe.’

The hater of Muslims, who saw himself as a latter-day Knight Templar on a new crusade to cleanse Europe of immigrant influences and restore national pride, was apparently led to the Czech capital by a BBC documentary that Prague was the best place for his illicit arms purchase.

“Prague is known for maybe being the most important transit site point for illicit drugs and weapons in Europe,” he noted in August 2010, a month ahead of the trip, in his manifesto “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” written entirely in English.

Other reports that he noted also seem to be encouraging. “There are only three European countries where it is legal to shoot an AK-47 and other assault rifles in Europe. A shooting range in Prague, Czech Republic, has a limited license under supervision of the fire range instructors where you can fire full automatic AK-47, high-powered sniper rifle M16 and other weapons. In Poland and Switzerland, you may practice the AK-47 but only in semi-automatic mode.”

Breivik, a consummate planner, made detailed preparations for the Prague trip, working out the best routes to take and determined to use cash so that he could not be tracked through his credit card transactions. His mobile phone was also switched off to avoid any tracking by intelligence services.

He had hollowed out a space in the back seat of his Hyundai Atos car for storing the weapons and ammunition he hoped to acquire. Breivik also had his hopes set on getting some “splint grenades” as a bonus.

The Hyundai car, which he described as looking like a pensioner’s vehicle, had the advantage that it would not draw attention to him but was the source of other worries. “The car is really crap, so I hope it won’t break down in the middle of the autobahn,” he commented, adding that many who commented in a Hyundai Internet forum he took part in shared his concerns about the vehicle’s reliability.

Breivik made the ferry trip from Oslo to Kiel, Germany, and drove down to Prague. “My encounter with the criminal networks in Prague will not go without risk. I will have to try to establish a connection via Taxi drivers and/or through the clubbing prostitution scene. I just hope I make it out alive…”

The worries of being killed by the Prague criminal underworld were frequently repeated ahead and during the early stages of the trip. “I can’t say I’m looking forward to this trip. I’ve heard that Prague is the most dangerous capital in Europe with a lot of very brutal and cynical criminals. There is a chance that I’ll get killed down there by some desperate criminal individual,” he noted.

Before the journey, Breivik says he spent two or three weeks researching clubs or such places where “medium-scale drug dealers hang out.” Such people, he believed, could get him weapons or use their drugs-trafficking network to acquire them for him via their couriers.

‘I failed miserably yesterday; I went to two brothels and a couple of clubs. The people I approached got really nervous and thought I was a cop or completely nut, lol.’

Breivik had booked at a cheap hostel in the Czech capital during his stay. “I have usually booked hotels in the past but they are not great for socializing. Nothing beats a Hostel when it comes to partying and getting to know people, etc. This trip is going to be a fascinating experience,” he commented, clearly more upbeat.

Prague turned out to be a long way from Breivik’s expectations of a dangerous crime hub and his attempts to acquire weapons appear bumbling. On the second day in the city, he admitted that desperation was setting in. “I need to find my weapons connection within 4 days … I failed miserably yesterday; I went to two brothels and a couple of clubs. The people I approached got really nervous and thought I was a cop or completely nut, lol. I have had to refine my approach pitch. It started off really bad. Whatever you do when trying to establish a gun connection, never be too direct.”

Such advice from the self-styled avenging justiciar knight — apparently aimed at followers who will follow in his footsteps after the Oslo attack — are frequent in the 1,500-page account that Breivik began writing in 2005.

Breivik soon admitted he was getting nowhere in the Czech capital as regards weapons connections. “This is the first major setback for me during my operation. I am so disappointed by myself. I realize now that Prague is far from the ideal city when looking to buy arms. Western European capitals are probably a more suitable location to establish a connection as that is the end destination of the arms that come through here. Prague may be a transit point but finding the actual couriers or sellers has proven to be a hard task.”

Armed with a schedule of tourist sites, he was, however, making the most of the city during the day by visiting the usual landmarks among the crowds. “Prague is like a great museum of ancient European historical sites and attracts millions of tourist annually. All the criminals that was [sic] here a few years ago was bad for business. I have never seen this many tourists in any other European city; Paris, London and Berlin included,” he commented.

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