Anders Behring Breivik: Norway's Timothy McVeigh
Breivik, who has reportedly admitted responsibility for both atrocities, is a psychotic “Lone Wolf” whose motivation came from his own twisted world view and lack of a moral compass
Norway’s nightmare started at 1536 hours on Friday, July 22. A bomb exploded in Oslo’s government district and killed at least seven people, though press reports of the actual death toll have varied. A Norwegian explosives expert, Per Nergaard, believes the bomb contained at least 500 kilograms of explosives.
One of the Scandinavia’s most popular tabloid papers, VG (Verdens Gang), was located nearby. Some reports claim that VG republished some of the controversial cartoons, originally found in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten that depicted Muhammad in a less-than-favorable light. In fact another Norwegian tabloid, Dagbladet, had published a provocative cartoon of Mohammad as a pig and not, in fact, those from the Danish paper. This “insult” became a rallying cry for Islamists worldwide. In Syria angry protestors burned the Norwegian embassy while Muslim taxi drivers blocked streets in Oslo. However, based on the location of the Oslo bomb blast the government buildings and not the paper were the target.
Several hours later a gunman, possibly working alone, slaughtered over 70 young men and women during a 90-minute rampage at a Norwegian Labor Party youth camp on the small island of Utøya, located in the Tyrifjorden, one of the country’s largest lakes.
To put these horrific events in perspective, the death toll in Norway was larger, on a per capita basis, than the attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon combined.
Speculation of al Qaeda Involvement
Additionally, published but unconfirmed reports in several news sources, to include the New York Times, stated that Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami (“Helpers of God”) claimed responsibility for the attack.
However, the police arrested Anders Behring Breivik, a native, blue-eyed, blond Norwegian. Police took him into custody on Utøya. Breivik was believed to have connections to right-wing extremists, possibly in both Norway and Great Britain. It now appears, however, that these “connections” were only symbolic. Breivik, who has reportedly admitted responsibility for both atrocities, is a psychotic “Lone Wolf,” whose motivation came from his own twisted world view and lack of a moral compass. Except for a couple of minor traffic infractions, it appears Breivik has no criminal record and has not been under investigation by Norwegian police authorities.
The rapid swing in the press away from blaming Islamists and towards “right-wing extremists” reflects the recent announcements of further investigations from a variety of governmental and UN authorities into these groups. Criticism has emerged in Europe where, at least according to a New York Times article, “...some experts say a climate of hatred in the political discourse has encouraged violent individuals.” Though this preposterous belief lost traction in the U.S. after Jared Loughner’s attempt to assassinate Representative Gabrielle Giffords, it may find support in Europe.
Several Lessons Learned
Norway has not had an attack of this magnitude since the Second World War. It is a nation that publicly prides itself on openness, consensus, and democratic inclusion. But, as Breivik has demonstrated, those public feelings are not universal, especially when a lunatic on the edge can take his personal angst and turn it into pure public evil.
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