By Elizabeth Flock
This image of Anders Behring Breivik from a manifesto attributed to him shows Breivik in a uniform with a white and red cross of the Knights Templar. (AP) In a detailed diary kept by Anders Behring Breivik — the Norwegian man charged with killing at least 94 people in a bombing in Oslo and shooting on a nearby island Friday — the suspect details months of preparations that led up to the attacks.
Breivik also exhaustively references the Knights Templar, which he calls an “international Christian military order,” that “fights” against “Islamic suppression.”
Monday, it was reported that a Mexican drug ring also invoked the obscure Knights Templar.
Who are they?
The Knights Templar’s earliest function in around 1119 was to protect Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. The armed group soon became known as the most skilled in the battles to reclaim Jerusalem from the Arabs and racked up several successive victories over Muslim forces.
But by 1303, the knights had been forced out of the Holy Land and returned to western Europe. They fled to France, where they were seen as an armed threat by King Philip the Fair, who had many of them tortured and executed. The king had the support of Pope Clement V, who issued a papal bull that made sure the group was disbanded by 1312.
Since then, rumors of the surviving knights have come and gone, including one rumor that the knights could destroy the Catholic church with a single secret they held.
Breivik says the Christian military order was refounded in 2002 in London under the name PCCTS as an armed “anti-Jihad crusader-organization.”
The Templar are recognizable by white tunics with red crosses, a symbol Breivik put on the front page of his “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” and emblazoned on homemade uniforms featured on his Facebook page.
In his diary, Breivik wrote of his plan of attack: “If you for some reason survive the operation you will be apprehended and arrested. This is the point where most heroic Knights would call it a day. However, this is not the case for a Justiciar Knight. Your arrest will mark the initiation of the propaganda phase.”
Breivik gave himself the ranking of the Justiciar Knight, and said there were up to 80 such “knights” around western Europe, all “completely unknown to our enemies.”
Breivik’s actual membership in the organization has yet to be established.