This is a story about incredible courage, perseverance and heroism. It’s a story about a twenty two year old girl who gets shot at least four times and survives the ordeal, thanks to her friends.
On July 22, 2011, Ina Rangønes Libak was working in the kitchen of the cafeteria building at the Utøya Labor party youth retreat in Norway, when right wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik was set ashore on the island by an unwitting boat crew.
Minutes later, he started a mass murdering rampage, shooting and killing sixty nine people and wounding many more. Almost all of them young, some of them children as young as fourteen.
On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, Ina told her story in an Oslo courtroom, facing the killer for the first time since he shot her. She spoke clearly, with a strong voice. Occasionally she smiled and spoke of the future, she recounted her ordeal and showed her scars to the court. Everyone in the room seemed affected by her testimony.
Everyone except the defendant, who sat with an expressionless face throughout. He’s on trial for the worst terrorist attack and mass murder in Norwegian history. In addition to the shootings, he’s charged with detonating a large car bomb in downtown Oslo on the same day, killing eight.
The facts of the case are not in dispute, but the question of guilt is. Behring Breivik claims he acted in self defense, protecting his country against “multiculturalism” and against “unchecked immigration”. According to him, members of the currently ruling Labor party are traitors to their country for initiating and "enforcing” this policy. The youth retreat at Utøya is an indoctrination camp set up to corrupt the minds of the young, all of them fair game in his war.
He hoped to instigate a popular uprising against the government. When he was arrested, he identified himself as a "commander of the resistance," and demanded that he be put in charge of the military. Instead, the Norwegian people marched for the victims by the hundreds of thousands, all holding roses, the symbol of the Labor party.
Ina Rangønes Libak knew nothing of this when she first heard loud bangs that Friday, but she soon suspected something was terribly wrong. She left the kitchen and joined others in the mess hall, where they tried to hide. They thought the bangs were coming from outside. Someone speculated that perhaps it was just firecrackers, this made everyone calm down a little. Suddenly they heard many more bangs, closer now. Everyone kept silent. They just looked at each other, hoping that they’d be safe behind closed doors if they stayed away from the windows. Ina and several others hauled a piano away from the wall and hid behind it. She was just thinking that this reminded her of one of those school massacres when the first bullets hit her. She was crouching, probably covering her head with her arms, which is why they got hit first. She didn’t look up and didn’t know it, but the killer had murdered eleven people in the building already and was standing directly above her, firing at point blank range. She remembers every bullet as it hit her and recounted to the court how she was thinking that it wasn’t so bad, she could survive getting shot in the arms. The next bullet hit her jaw and she worried that this was more serious. She felt a strange taste in her mouth, probably from the bullet, and started bleeding profusely. The final shot hit her in the chest. This really scared her, because she knew people usually die from such wounds. She doesn’t remember the girl sitting next to her dying, nor that six other people were killed in the room. She thinks she probably held her hands in front of her face as it was happening.