UPDATE 3-Poland arrests bomb plotter linked to Norway's Breivik

Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:44am EST

Related Topics

* Prosecutors: suspect driven by nationalism, anti-Semitism

* They say he planned to blow up vehicle bomb in capital

* Assembled arsenal of explosives, guns, detonators

* Man was "fascinated" by Norway's Breivik

By Dagmara Leszkowicz and Marcin Goettig

WARSAW, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Polish authorities have arrested a radical nationalist who plotted to blow up parliament and had links to the right-wing extremist who killed 77 people in Norway last year, they said on Tuesday.

The suspected plot - to strike parliament when the president and prime minister were inside - was the first of its kind since Poland threw off Communist rule more than 20 years ago and is likely to put scrutiny on radical right-wing groups that are fiercely opposed to the liberal government.

Prosecutors said the suspect, a scientist who works for a university in the southern city of Krakow, planned to plant four tonnes of explosives in a vehicle outside parliament and detonate it remotely.

The plot had parallels with Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who planted a bomb in Oslo last year and then went on a shooting rampage on a nearby island.

"The would-be bomber did not hide his fascination with Breivik. This should not be ignored," Prime Minister Donald Tusk told a news conference. "This should be a warning and a good lesson to Poland in the future."

"This is a new and dramatic experience. So far, we have had no experience with these kind of incidents."

Tusk said that investigators had found practical connections to Breivik too: the Norwegian bought bomb components in Poland, he said, and an analysis of his contacts helped lead Polish intelligence to the suspect.

Prosecutors said the 45-year-old suspect had assembled a small arsenal of explosive material, guns and remote-controlled detonators and was trying to recruit others to help him.

A video recording taken from the suspect, who has not been publicly identified, showed what prosecutors said was a test explosion he conducted, sending up a huge cloud of dust and leaving a large crater in the ground.

"He claims that he was acting on nationalistic, anti-Semitic and xenophobic motives," prosecutor Mariusz Krason said.

"He carried out reconnaissance in the neighbourhood of the Sejm (parliament). This building was to be the target of the attack. He collected explosives and materials for detonation," Krason said.

SOPHISTICATED PLOT

Polish society is polarised between liberals and those who believe the country is neglecting its Catholic roots and succumbing to foreign influence.

Most right-wing groups renounce violence, but some on the margins are more radical. A rally in the capital, Warsaw, this month by right-wing nationalists turned violent, when youths in the crowd started throwing flares and stones at police.

Prosecutors produced evidence suggesting the suspect was planning a sophisticated attack.

They showed photographs of pistols and bags of ammunition which they said he had bought in Poland and Belgium. They also showed several vehicle licence plates, both Polish and German, which they said had been found among his belongings.

They said the suspect had used his scientific background to assemble the explosives himself. "He is a specialist in the field," prosecutor Krason said.

Officials said that they had found explosive substances including hexogen and tetryl, as well as detonators that could be triggered remotely using a mobile telephone.

The dean of the Agricultural University in Krakow, where prosecutors said the suspect worked, said the man had never given any reason for suspicion.

"It never occurred to us that at our school there could be a person involved in such matters. There were no indications from his co-workers that anything unusual was happening," Roman Sady said.

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