Special report: In Breivik's past, few clues to troubled future
Aug 2, 2011, 7:17 a.m.
By John Acher, Alister Doyle and Peter Apps
RENA, Norway (Reuters) - On a taxi ride to his farmhouse the day before he killed 77 people, Anders Behring Breivik talked easily of a future he must have known would never come.
Police believe the 32-year-old Norwegian had just deposited one of two vehicles -- either the car carrying the bomb that would devastate Norway's government district or the van he would use to help get him to a political youth camp -- in downtown Oslo. He then caught a train back to Rena where he flagged down the silver-grey Mercedes station wagon driven by 40-year-old Ariid Tangen.
As the pair drove through the rolling countryside to the home where Breivik had written his 1,518-page "manifesto" and spent months planning his attack, the self-proclaimed defender of Europe made small talk.
"We spoke all the way and had a nice talk about nothing: the weather, the farm and that he wanted to be a farmer," Tangen told Reuters a few days later. "He said he hired the farm to live like a farmer and that, if he liked it, he would buy one for himself."
At no stage on the 12-km (7-mile) journey, Tangen said, did Breivik give any hint of what was to come.
"In my mind I've gone through it all in the most tiny detail," the taxi driver said. "He had no nerves, he joked, he laughed. I just can't get my mind round how he did it. He must have just... parked the bomb."
For many Norwegians, still numbed by the worst violence in the country since World War Two, the fact the alleged killer looked and acted so normally is one of the most disturbing aspects of the attacks.
"What keeps me awake at night is that he is not a monster," wrote Peter Svaar, a Norwegian journalist who was at school with Breivik as a young teenager. "He is a normal Norwegian boy."
Most of those close to Breivik have gone to ground since the attacks of July 22. Phones are left answered and a policeman who answered the door of Breivik's mother's upmarket Oslo house simply smiled and said "There's no one home."
And while some of those prepared to speak say there was always something odd about the quiet, serious young man, others insist they saw no warning signs at all.
"He was a normal, well-behaved Norwegian boy," his former stepmother Tove Oevermo told Reuters in a short telephone interview. "There were no signs."
YOUTHFUL ANT KILLER
Breivik's upbringing was remarkably privileged, even by Norwegian standards. He went to the same Oslo primary school as Crown Prince Haakon, who was a few years older.
At Handelsgymnasium, a high school in central Oslo where parents of new students are treated to an organist playing music by Edward Elgar, Breivik would have been surrounded not only by a keen sense of tradition but by his country's future business and political leaders.
"I haven't really had any negative experiences in my childhood in any way," Breivik himself wrote of his upbringing.