Norwegian massacre survivor remembers the nightmare
Laaska News July 31,2011
A young Lebanese Basil Al Ud has survived the massacre carried out by a man named Anders Breivik in a youth camp of the Norwegian Labor Party on Utøya Island on Friday, July 22.
Basil is 26 years old, and he lives and works in Beirut. He was invited to Norway as a representative of the Lebanese Progressive Democratic Party, to take part in a congress of young people.
“I survived by miracle,” Basil Al Ud says.
Iskandar Kfouri, a correspondent of the Voice of Russia in Lebanon, has met with Basil, and here is what the survivor told him:
“The Norwegian Labor Party invited me to take part in its congress. I came to Oslo by plane on Tuesday, July 19. First, I along with 5 other foreign guests of the congress came to the party’s headquarters in Oslo (later, on Friday, an explosion took place nearby). Then, they took us to the camp on Utøya Island. There were about 560 Norwegians there. I spent several days on the island and made friends with many of them. Everybody who came to the island for the first time said that they had never seen such a place before – a real paradise on earth.
Norwegians lived in tents, and we, the foreign guests, in little wooden houses. During our meetings, we discussed the problems of South Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Palestine and other trouble spots. The organizers asked me to make a report about Palestine. This issue worries me a lot, and, when I spoke, I noticed that my listeners – very young people, nearly children – were also genuinely worried about Palestine’s destiny.
Nothing foreboded the tragedy in the morning of July 22. Everything was going according to plan, when, suddenly, my cell phone rang. That was my friend from Beirut, a member of the same party as I, who said that an explosion had taken place near the Norwegian Labor Party’s headquarters in Oslo.
We went to the conference hall, as planned. The organizers were standing outdoors, waiting for a motorboat which was expected to bring some more people. When these people arrived and were coming from the dock, I suddenly heard some sounds that resembled gunfire. Somebody in the conference hall cried that we must leave the building. I couldn’t understand a thing.
I stood at loss, unable to move, but then I made myself come to the window. I saw a man in a police uniform, with a machine-gun, who was shooting at people – methodically, cool-bloodedly. I still didn’t understand a thing. I thought that it was some game. The man kept shooting people down, one by one. He seemed absolutely emotionless.
Only a few minutes must have passed, but they seemed like eternity to us. Finally, we decided to leave the building and try to get to the other side of the lake. I suggested to swim, but Norwegians said that even in this time of the year, the water in this lake is very cold.
Meanwhile, the man with the gun came very close to us. I realized that he had probably noticed us. I ran to the lake and cried to the others: “In the water, in the water!” The man fired at our group three times. I swam on my back, and I saw how the man shot at those who stayed on the shore – there were 20 of them. Most of them didn’t resist, because they couldn’t move from fear. Two other people swam behind me, but, of course, water couldn’t protect us from the shots.
Suddenly, a boat appeared. A man stood in it, looking at us through binoculars. At first, I thought that I was hallucinating. Then, I thought that the man in the boat was probably the terrorist’s accomplice. I parted with life in my spirit and said words of parting to my comrades. Fortunately, it turned out that the man in the boat had come to save us.
My comrades and I got into the boat, and we went to the shore where others had stayed. Now, for the rest of my life, these people will be like brothers and sisters to me.”
This was the story of Lebanese Basil Al Ud, a survivor of a terrorist’s attack at a youth camp on Utøya Island, Norway.