OSLO, Norway — Two visions of the Norway atrocity developed Thursday as Europe gropes for answers after a tragedy that claimed the lives of 76 people.
While a picture emerged of a solitary killer, the attack carried out by Anders Behring Breivik has stirred questions in Europe about whether authorities have neglected the threat of right-wing extremists in their push to crack down on Islamist terror groups after 9/11. Security officials insist they have not, and statistics from European police agency Europol show no surge in right-wing terror.
Still, many politicians saw the Norway attacks as a violent expression of a far-right populist movement that has swept anti-Muslim parties calling for strict cuts in immigration into parliaments across the continent.
At an emergency meeting on the far-right threat, European Union counterterrorism officials warned that radicals who share Breivik's ideology might be tempted to follow his lead.
"Clearly, one major risk is that somebody may actually try to mount a similar attack as a copycat attack or as a way of showing support," said Tim Jones, principal adviser to the EU's counterterrorism coordinator. In September, EU interior ministers are to meet to discuss responses to the Norway massacre.
Across Europe, far-right groups were quick to distance themselves from the Norway attacker. Geert Wilders of the Netherlands' right-wing Party for Freedom tweeted: "Terrible attack in Oslo, many innocent victims of violent, sick mind."
But some political leaders in Holland, which like Norway has grappled with an increasingly fractious debate about Muslim integration, said firebrand anti-Islamic rhetoric can fire the mind of a man like Breivik.
Ahead of Thursday's emergency counterterror meeting, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom spoke of a "huge lack of political leadership" in allowing right-wing sentiment to bleed into the mainstream.
European security officials, on high alert after the July 22 attacks against Norway's government and a Labor Party youth camp, say no information has emerged to support Breivik's claim that he's a member of a shadowy group of modern-day crusaders with cells all over Europe.
Breivik has admitted he set off a car bomb in the government district of Oslo, killing at least eight people, then launched a shooting rampage at the ruling Labor Party's annual youth camp. Many of the 68 killed there were teenagers.