Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Oslo Massacre

By William Fisher

If you’re one of those busy people who gets his/her news on the fly, as it were, in little dribs and drabs, you’d have been pretty certain that the guy who killed all those people in Oslo a couple of weeks ago was an Islamic Terrorist.

After all, aren’t they the ones who commit these unspeakable acts? And isn’t that what was being reported on TV and in the main newspapers?

Indeed it was. The first headline in New York Times, for example, said, “jihadis claim responsibility.” The BBC picked up The Times’ story line, as did the US cable networks and early wire service reports. These stories left the reader with the unmistakable impression that al Qaeda or one of its franchisees was responsible for the Oslo carnage.

One of the cooler heads in the media was Glenn Greenwald of Salon, who reported all of the above.

Greenwald also noted that Jennifer Rubin, writing in the Washington Post, said: “We don’t know if al Qaeda was directly responsible for today’s events, but in all likelihood the attack was launched by part of the jihadist hydra. Prominent jihadists have already claimed online that the attack is payback for Norway’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan. Moreover, there is a specific jihadist connection here: ‘Just nine days ago, Norwegian authorities filed charges against Mullah Krekar, an infamous al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist who, with help from Osama bin Laden, founded Ansar al Islam – a branch of al Qaeda in northern Iraq – in late 2001’.”

What short memories we have! The tragedy of 9/11 has so consumed our consciousness that we have forgotten that Timothy McVeigh, that all-American malcontent, blew up the Alfred Murrah Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people including 19 children 1995.

Also forgotten by most of us is the incontrovertible truth that most terrorist attacks in the US are committed, not by Islamists wearing suicide vests, but by clean-cut-looking Americans like Timothy McVeigh.

In fact, a 2010 study by The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) reported that:

· There were 80 total plots by U.S.-originated non-Muslim perpetrators against the United States since 9/11. In comparison, there have been 45 total plots by U.S. and foreign-originated Muslim perpetrators since 9/11.

· There have been least five incidents of non-Muslim violent extremists possessing or attempting to possess Biological, Chemical or Radiological weapons. One of those incidents occurred since Obama’s election. No such cases involving Muslim violent extremists have been reported since 9/11.

· Since November 2008 there have been 45 plots by domestic non-Muslim violent extremists. By comparison, there have been 22 plots by Muslim, U.S. and foreign-originated extremists.

· Muslim communities helped U.S. security officials to prevent more than four out of every 10 Al-Qaeda plots threatening the United States since 9/11. Muslim communities helped law enforcement prevent three-quarters of all Al-Qaeda related plots threatening the U.S. since December 2009.

Likewise, in Europe, of 294 terrorist attacks attempted or executed on European soil in 2009, only one out of 294 was perpetrated by "Islamists."

So not only was the Oslo bomber not a Muslim, he was a virtual caricature of what a 100% native Nordic male is supposed to look like, right down to his blond hair and blue eyes.

Which may help explain why “the West” – The Americas and Europe –failed to show the usual signs of the furious activity -- beefing up airport and other security, stepping up the gathering and analysis of intelligence about Muslim hate groups and lone wolf jihadis, and imposing new regulations to further curtail privacy and other Constitutional rights.

Yet Anders Behring Breivik was as much linked to a network as any of the Islamist jihadis. He is a right-wing Christian nationalist, and he fed off the plethora of websites dedicated to promoting Islamophobia, the end of immigration, and the supremacy of Christians with white skins.

As Glenn Greenwald reported, his “mentors” included some of America’s best-known Islamophobes and self-styled terrorism “experts” – Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, and Pam Geller, are all mentioned by name in Breivik’s “manifesto.”

"It’s clear from his manifesto that he was slowly withdrawing from wider civil society," said Matthew Goodwin, an expert on right-wing extremism at Britain’s University of Nottingham. "Online, he was certainly active in terms of far-right blogs such as Brussels Journal and Gates of Vienna. He had an extensive Facebook network and had built up substantial online links."

There will be those who are genuinely disappointed that Breivik’s name is not Mohammed ben-Brievik because that would confirm the legitimacy of their twisted ideology. And it would also help increase their book sales, web site traffic and speaking fees. Islamophobia is, after all, a thriving cottage industry.

Norway, it seems to me, is taking a more rational approach. The government has formed a Commission to gather the grim facts of the July 22 massacre. There may be some criticism of the police response, which appeared to be slow. There may also be some reorganization of internal security procedures to help prevent another July 22.

But when Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was asked how Norway plans to counter extremists from any part of the political spectrum, he replied: “With more democracy.” He promised that Norway would remain “an open society.”

Is there something we can learn from Norway?

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