Yousef Munayyer has written an excellent analysis of the terror attack in Norway Lessons drawn from the blonde bomber for the Jerusalem Fund
Dozens of innocents were murdered by a terrorist act in Norway. But not all the casualties were human. Other casualties included some dangerous but commonly-held assumptions about terrorism.Read more here
Guesses about Islamist involvement came pouring in over the airwaves when news of the bombing broke. These were not seriously questioned by journalists but rather willfully accepted as fact. The bombing in Oslo, the experts said, featured "all the hallmarks" of an al Qaeda attack. Norway, we were told, was on al Qaeda's hit list both because of its NATO involvement in Afghanistan, and because a Norwegian newspaper republished a controversial Islamophobic cartoon originally published in Denmark.
It turned out, of course, that the perpetrator was not an al Qaeda operative but rather a right-wing ethnic Norwegian terrorist who explicitly targeted what he termed "traitorous" European politicians that advocated less restrictive immigration policies. Breivik's 1500+ page manifesto explains his ideology, which is heavily predicated on maintaining the purity of Europe by defending it from Muslim immigration.
Yet even after news reports began to emerge from eye-witnesses who said the attacker was a tall blonde with typical Norwegian looks, the mainstream media was more inclined to believe that some Islamist group was still behind it. In fact, the New York Times and other outlets kept the claim of an Islamist connection up on their homepages for hours after it became clear that the culprit was a Norwegian right-winger.
The initial claim of responsibility for the attacks was made on a so-called Jihadi website by a group that no one had ever heard of. Many in the mainstream media clung to this claim in their reporting, finding it more plausible to believe than the possibility that a Norwegian might have been behind the attacks.
The right-wing threat
In reality, domestic terrorism is far more common than transnational terrorism, even in the recent period. From 1998-2005, for example, terror attacks have claimed the lives of 26,445 people, of which only 6,447 were a result of transnational terror (3,000 of those casualties occurred on 9/11).
Has al Qaeda so convinced the West of its ubiquitous power that it is easier for observers to jump to irrational conclusions based on anonymous internet chatter? This seems to be the case.
This exaggeration, this Islamist boogeyman, contributes directly to the failure to conceptualise and imagine threats like Breivik and his ilk. With the discussions on terrorism in both the public and policy realm overly saturated with analysis on Islam and Islamists, it becomes very easy to miss this right-wing terror threat.
According to the BBC, authorities deny any link to right wing activists in the UK. However, the Guardian reports that Breivik sent 'manifesto' to 250 UK contacts hours before Norway killings.
The man responsible for the mass killing in Norway emailed his 1,500-page document to 250 British contacts less than 90 minutes before he began his attack, according to a Belgian MP.
Anders Behring Breivik sent his manifesto to 1,003 email addresses at 2.09pm on Friday – less than an hour and a half before he detonated a bomb in Oslo.See also Carl Medearis The Blond-Haired, Blue-Eyed, “Christian” Face of Terrorism
According to Tanguy Veys MP for the rightwing anti-Muslim party Vlaams Belang, – and one of those who received the document – approximately a quarter of those on the email list were UK-based.
"I think the UK was the biggest group [of recipients]," he told the Guardian last night. "There were people from Italy, France Germany … but the UK was the biggest number."