Why does Norway's Breivik invoke the Knights Templar? (+video)(Read article summary)
Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a twin terror attack in Norway last July, claims to be a member of a reborn 'Knights Templar.' What's the symbolism?
One of the highlights of today's testimony in the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, who is accused of the murder of 77 people during a bombing and shooting rampage in Norway, was the prosecutor's efforts to challenge Mr. Breivik's purported membership in the "Knights Templar."
Breivik claims to have helped "refound" the ancient military order as a force to fight immigration and multiculturalism in Europe. But why turn to a long-gone Christian order to symbolize his agenda today?
The Knights Templar, or "Templars," were a Christian order founded in the 10th century. Named for the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Templars initially protected pilgrims traveling through the Holy Lands, but eventually evolved into a powerful military force that waged war against the Muslims during the Crusades.
The Templars became so powerful, however, that European leaders grew to distrust the order. Early in the 1300s, King Philip IV of France launched a crackdown on the Templars that, with the help of Pope Clement V, eventually spread Europe-wide, destroying the order. Many members were tortured and tried for heresy by the Catholic Church.