UPDATE: It's looking less like 911 and more like Jared Loughner. Sky News reports that the Oslo suspect has been named as Anders Behring Breivik.
A Twitter account (http://twitter.com/#!/AndersBBreivik) and Facebook page for Anders Behring Breivik were created last week. The Facebook page contains a series of photos of the alleged suspect, and the Twitter account has one post: "One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100 000 who have only interests."(Vancouver Sun)
UPDATE 6:55 p.m. ET: More is now coming in from people close to the investigation, raising the likelihood that the attacks were home-grown and not the work of Islamic militants.
Addressing whether the 32-year-old Norwegian suspect might be affiliated with al-Qaida or another group, Oslo's acting police acting chief said at a late-night news conference: "We do not know if he was involved in an extremist environment."
And Tore Bjorgo, a professor at Norwegian Police University College — which state broadcaster NRK reported is working with police on the investigation — said the fact that the second attack was directed at a political youth organization suggested the involvement of local or European right-wing extremists. (MSNBC)
Media reports initally linked the Norway bombings to Islamic extremism, here for example:
(NY Times) Initial reports focused suspicion in Islamic extremists, even as Muslim leaders in Norway swiftly condemned the attacks. “This is our homeland, this is my homeland; I condemn these attacks and the Islamic Council of Norway condemns these attacks, whoever is behind them,” said Mehtab Afsar, secretary general of the Islamic Council of Norway.
According to Will McCants, a terrorism analyst at C.N.A., a research institute, a previously unknown group, Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or the Helpers of the Global Jihad, claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were a response to the presence of Norwegian forces in Afghanistan and to unspecified insults to the Prophet Muhammad.
But Norwegian television reports later suggested that the group had denied responsibility. In the immediate aftermath of recent terrorist attacks, jihadi forums are often filled with claims and counterclaims that are impossible to independently confirm.
What is known is that three suspected terrorists were arrested earlier this month for an alleged plot to attack Norway and Germany. Additionally, intelligence agencies this month said that The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan had been planning a European attack from the mountain in Pakistan. Some of the militants are believed to be European citizens.
Analysts are also focusing their attention on domestic extremist groups, believing that the attack on the government building, as well as the government sponsored summer camp, could be politically motivated.
Motives appears to be unclear: (MSNBC)
UPDATE 6:25 p.m. ET: We've rounded up what we've learned about the shootings here:
• Friday's attacks in Olso and Buskerud could simply be the actions of a disturbed individual with no connection to al-Qaida or any other international terrorist groups, a prominent authority on Islamic militant groups said.
• Witnesses said they saw as many as 20 bodies on the island or in the water, but police said they could confirm only nine deaths for now.
• Police say the suspected gunman is a 32-year-old Norwegian man who posed as a police officer.
• Undetonated explosives also were found at the island.
• Witnesses describe the chaos at the scene.
UPDATE 5:50 p.m. ET: Police have confirmed that undetonated explosives were found on Utoya island.
UPDATE 5:22 p.m.: Police say the gunman is a 32-year-old Norwegian.
Witnesses described the suspect as "blond" and "Nordic-looking." Late Friday, Knut Storberegt, Norway's royal minister of justice and the police, confirmed that he is a Norwegian; the BBC, citing police, said he was from Utoya. Police said he is also believed to have been involved in the bombing that killed seven people earlier in the day in Oslo, about 25 miles away.advertisement
Magnus Ranstorp, a specialist in militant Islamic movements and research director at the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defense College, cautioned that widespread assumptions that the attacks were connected to international terrorism could be wrong.
The description of the suspect and his possible involvement in bombing national government offices "point to an internal rather than external extremist," Ranstorp told Nettavisen.
"Intuitively, the bombing is al-Qaida-related, but with this attack on Utoya, this could just be a crazy person," Ranstorp said.
UPDATE 4:07 p.m. ET: Oslo police say that with the gunman in custody, Utoya island is now safe.
Inspector Bjorn Erik Sem-Jacobsen of the Buskerud police district told state broadcaster NRK that the investigation was difficult because witnesses and others who were on the island when the gunman opened fire had good reason to be suspicious of anyone in a police uniform.
"We are working to ensure that the young people out there have confidence that we are real police," Sem-Jacobsen said.
UPDATE 3:50 p.m. ET: Police said they could confirm only nine deaths in the shooting at Utoya. A police spokesman said a 10th person might may have been killed, but that was "uncertain."
Previous reports quoted multiple witnesses as saying as many as 20 people may have been killed.
Norwegian authorities said at a news conference that the gunman was not connected to the police and "has no relation to us."
UPDATE 3:35 p.m. ET: Police said they were confident they had been able to identify the gunman, whom they had in custody. They did not release his identity, but they said they had confirmed that they had "reason to believe" he was connected to the Oslo bombing.
NRK reporter Astrid Randen quoted witnesses as saying the man — described as "tall, blond and Nordic-looking" and speaking Norwegian — wore a police uniform and summoned youth campers to gather around him before he "just executed them."
People in at least 20 pleasure boats converged on the island to help with the rescue operation. One of them, André Skeie, told NRK that he saw at least a dozen "lifeless bodies" floating in the water.
Skeie said he helped remove more than 15 injured people from the island. Many of them were shot in the stomach, he said.
"It's absolutely awful. It looks like a war zone," Skeie said by phone.
UPDATE 3:12 p.m. ET: NRK is quoting witnesses as saying at least five and perhaps 20 or more people may have been killed at Utoya, some of them shot as they tried to swim to safety from the island. It stressed that police had not confirmed the accounts.
UPDATE 2:53 p.m. ET: NRK quotes police as saying they now suspect one or more bombs may be at the scene at Utoya.advertisement
UPDATE 2:51 p.m. ET: The Norwegian news agency NTB quotes witnesses describing a scene of "complete panic."
A witness said in a text message that "we are very afraid," the agency reported. "We do not know what to do. Many people are injured. We are afraid. We are waiting for help. Some are seriously injured. We cannot do anything."
UPDATE: (Reuters) - A gunman shot dead at least 80 youths at a summer camp of the ruling Labour Party on Friday, police said.
"The updated knowledge we are sitting on now is at least 80," police chief Oystein Maeland told a news conference. "We can't guarantee that won't increase somewhat," he said, adding some were badly injured.
Previously, police had said that at least 10 had been killed in the shooting at the Utoeya island northwest of Oslo, along with seven killed by a bomb blast in central Oslo.
Maeland said the attack had reached "catastrophic dimensions."
And The Tribune:
A police official said the suspect appears to have acted alone in both attacks, and that "it seems like that this is not linked to any international terrorist organizations at all." The official spoke on condition of anonymity because that information had not been officially released by Norway’s police.
"It seems it’s not Islamic-terror related," the official said. "This seems like a madman’s work."