World Bulletin/News Desk
Thor Halvorssen, the founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, receives significant funding from the same financiers who support the Islamophobes who inspired anti-Muslim Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik, an Electronic Intifada investigation has revealed.
Despite being presented with this evidence, the Norwegian government and Amnesty International are embracing Halvorssen, a long-time far-right activist and the scion of a politically-connected family tied to Venezuela’s US-backed opposition.
This week in Oslo, hundreds of people from around the world are gathering for the fifth annual Oslo Freedom Forum, a human rights conference billed as “a three-day summit exploring how best to challenge authoritarianism and promote free and open societies.”
Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who carried out a murderous rampage in July 2011 and who fashioned himself as a crusading knight on a mission to save Europe from the scourge of Muslim immigration, outlined his views in a 1,500-page manifesto, listing the far-right, pro-Israel Americans who helped radicalize him.
They included the most notorious purveyors of anti-Muslim resentment, such as Jihad Watch founder Robert Spencer, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, and Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes.
Among the suggestions for “Further Study” provided by the killer were links on YouTube to the 2008 propaganda film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West which aims to persuade average Americans about the Islamist threat.
One of the largest donors to the Human Rights Foundation — the producer of the Oslo Freedom Forum — are Donors Capital Fund and its affiliate Donors Trust, Inc.
Donors Capital Fund is the same right-wing American foundation that spent millions of dollars to fund the distribution of millions of copies of Obsession, and which has lavished hundreds of thousands of dollars on the network of professional Islamophobes that Breivik cited as his inspirations.
Donors Capital Fund is only one of several major funders to the Human Rights Foundation that have been among the principal donors or conduits for funding to the Islamophobic hate groups and ideologues who helped radicalize Breivik.
Human Rights Foundation IRS records
Halvorssen has gathered mostly far-right, Pro-Israel moneymen into bankrolling his Human Rights Foundation.
The Electronic Intifada has obtained Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 990 forms filed by the Human Rights Foundation that include previously undisclosed information about its donors.
In 2009, Donors Capital Fund channeled $60 million to various conservative causes and from 2009 through 2011 a whopping $21,318,600 “to groups promoting Islamophobia,” according to the Center for American Progress.
In 2008, Donors Capital donated $17,778,600 to a shadowy nonprofit called the Clarion Fund — later renamed the Clarion Project (“Mystery of who funded right-wing ‘radical Islam’ campaign deepens,” Salon, 16 November 2010).
The donation paid for the Clarion Fund’s distribution of the film Obsession during the height of the 2008 presidential campaign — an apparent attempt to tar Democrats and then-Senator Barack Obama as weak on terror.
Breivik cited Pipes at least 18 times in his manifesto. Pipes’ Middle East Forum has benefited immensely from the generosity of Donors Capital Fund, reaping $2.3 million from the foundation between 2001 to 2009, according to the Center for American Progress.
Halvorssen’s funding and conspiracy theories
Since 2010, Halvorssen has concealed the source of his funding. Contrary to his claims, his political views appear to align neatly with many of his key backers and with those they support.
Halvorssen cannot explain why the Human Rights Foundation relies on other key members of the Islamophobia industry’s financial network.
The Sarah Scaife Foundation, one of the four foundations controlled by conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife, donated $325,000 to Halvorssen’s Human Rights Foundation between 2007 and 2011, according to IRS filings.
According to the Center for American Progress, Scaife’s foundations contributed a staggering $7,875,000 to the Islamophobia industry between 2001 and 2009.
Among the major recipients of Scaife’s money was the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which received $3.4 million during the eight-year period documented in the “Fear Inc.” report.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center happens to be the main sponsor of Robert Spencer, the Islamophobic pseudo-scholar who claimed in a video interview with the conservative website Politichicks that the Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated deep into President Obama’s White House inner circle. Breivik referenced Spencer’s work no fewer than 162 times in his manifesto.
Then there is the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which contributed $145,000 to the Human Rights Foundation, according to IRS forms.
As The Electronic Intifada recently reported, the Bradley Foundation has helped pay the salaries of some of America’s most virulent anti-Muslim agitators. These include David Horowitz, the creator of “Islamofascism Awareness Week,” Pipes and Frank Gaffney, publisher of conspiratorial pamphlets like his 2010 “Shariah: The Threat to America,” in which he warned that American Muslims were engaged in a “stealth jihad” to place the country under the control of “sharia,” or Islamic law.
Gaffney asked Halvorssen, “Did he [Putin] have something to do with this attack in Boston — that he was running Tamerlan Tsarnaev?”
“I have questions about it, Frank,” Halvorssen stated in an emphatic tone. “I have serious questions.” With his answer, Halvorssen demonstrated a readiness to indulge wild conspiracy theories that fit his political agenda.
Norwegian government, Amnesty respond
The Electronic Intifada shared some of the information about the Human Rights Foundation’s donors with Ragnhild Imerslund, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs communications chief and spokesperson for Foreign Minister Eide.
Regarding the donors to the Forum’s producer and creator, Imerslund said only, “Questions regarding sources of funding for the Human Rights Foundation should be directed to them.”
“The Sarah Scaife Foundation is not listed among the sponsors of the Oslo Freedom Forum,” Amnesty’s Folkvord added. “When it comes to their support, if any, to The Human Rights Foundation, the latter would have to answer for that.”
The Electronic Intifada asked both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Amnesty how they thought members of the Norwegian public would respond to the fact that the Human Rights Foundation — the producer and originator of the Oslo Freedom Forum — counted among its most generous supporters the same donors that sustain the Islamophobic activists cited by Breivik as inspirations. Neither offered a reply.
Presented with the revelations uncovered by The Electronic Intifada, they dismissed them as immaterial, and even irrelevant.
During his early career, Halvorssen served as a conservative operative combating gay rights initiatives, feminism and multiculturalism on US college campuses, suggests otherwise.
In 1994 he authored a guest commentary for The Daily Pennsylvanian demanding that prospective students be warned before applying to the University of Pennsylvania that “it may be deadly to live in West Philadelphia,” the mostly African-American area surrounding Penn’s campus.
Halvorssen became a program director for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, another prominent right-wing campus operation. Under his direction, the group condemned the establishment of a women’s studies program at Yale University.
Halvorssen’s political empire expanded with his founding of the Moving Picture Institute, that produced “Mine Your Own Business.” Financed by a Canadian mining company, the film was promoted as “the world’s first anti-environmentalist documentary.”