A still image taken from video circulated on social media, apparently taken by a gunman and posted online live as the attack unfolded, shows him driving in Christchurch, New Zealand. Picture: Social Media Website/Handout via Reuters

A manifesto allegedly written by the suspect in an attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, that left 49 people dead and scores more injured claimed inspiration from Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik and suggested that the pair had been in "brief contact"

Breivik, who killed 77 people on July 22, 2011 in a bomb attack in Oslo and a mass shooting at a summer camp for children, is currently serving a 21-year sentence in a prison near the city of Skien.

The manifesto in the Christchurch shooting contains many references to online culture. Many of the claims in the manifesto are uncorroborated and some appear to be designed to mislead.

Speaking to the Norwegian newspaper VG, Breivik's lawyer Øystein Storrvik said that his client has very little access to the outside world and he found it hard to believe that the two could have been in contact. "In practice, Breivik is cut off from the outside world," Storrvik said.

Espen Jambak, assistant prison chief at Breivik's prison, also told VG that there is "communication control" in Norwegian prisons and that officials there have no knowledge of a letter to Breivik from the person named in media reports about the Christchurch attack.

In the 73-page manifesto allegedly published online by the suspect before the shooting, a number of references to Breivik were included. 

The Norwegian mass murderer's name was included in a list of "partisans/freedom fighters/ethno soldiers" who the author said took a stand against "ethnic and cultural genocide."

The author said he had taken inspiration from the writings of Dylann Roof, an American who killed nine black parishioners at a historic church in Charleston during a mass shooting in 2015. However, he said that his "true inspiration" came from Breivik and appeared to suggest they may have been in contact.

"I have only had brief contact with Knight Justiciar Breivik, receiving a blessing for my mission after contacting his brother knights," an apparent reference to the Knights Templar, a rumored secret temple knight's order Breivik had claimed he was a commander of.

The Christchurch manifesto also claimed that the suspect had been traveling in Western Europe during 2017, around the time that an attack in Stockholm took place The author specifically noted the name of Ebba Akerlund, a young girl who was killed in that attack when she was hit by a truck.

"I find it extremely tragic that Ebba's name is being misused in political propaganda," Ebba's mother, Jeanette Åkerlund, told the Swedish newspaper Expressen.

Ahead of his own 2011 attack, Breivik had written a far-lengthier manifesto of his own. In its 1,500 pages, the Norwegian made a number of references to New Zealand, in particular suggesting it might be a place for Europeans to move to avoid immigration.

Speaking to Swedish radio on Friday, Magnus Ranstorp of the Swedish National Defense College noted that there was some overlap in themes between the two manifestos - although, he added, the Christchurch one was "more sloppy."

Washington Post