My blog post in Norwegian from earlier this day has created quite some interest, and one reader has kindly translated it into English for me (I’ve had no time to do this myself). The blog post follows below.
After yesterday’s horrible terrorist attack in Oslo and Utøya, and after it became clear that the suspected perpetrator was a 32 year-old Norwegian, speculation and information about Anders Behring Breivik’s character has started to emerge. Some journalists have focused on his professed Christianity and conservatism, and name him a “Christian conservative” or the like. Internet tabloid Stavangeravisen calls him a neo-nazi.
Both characterizations are faulty, despite Breivik’s participation at nordisk.nu — an internet forum whose members also include active neo-nazis (however, it is not a dedicated neo-nazi forum, which is how EXPO presents it). Neither is it particularly relevant that Breivik was once a member of Fremskrittspartiet (the Progress Party) and even ranked as a local leader of FpU (Progress Party Youth). It is unlikely that he was radicalized during his commitment to FpU, rather this appears to be a classical case of internet radicalization, also seen among young European jihadists.
Breivik was inspired by an internet community who brands itself “counter jihadist”, a community espousing an ideology that may be considered as extreme right-wing, which also has connections to European neo-fascism. It’s a community I have been following fairly closely for a number of years. I am not surprised that the spirit of this community has now resulted in an act of terror in Norway. What is surprising is the scale, the scope of the terrorist attacks. The number of casualties exceeds the Al Qa’ida attack in London a few years ago. Although there are examples of terrorist attacks perpetrated by similarly motivated people in the past, they have not approached the scale of this incident.
The scale and conduct of the bomb attack led many to suspect Islamist terrorists. Including this author. We were wrong.
The terrorist was a Norwegian extreme nationalist, a self-declared “cultural conservative” — as if the mass-murder of adolescents is “culture” or “conservatism”. He consciously targeted politically engaged youth, members of AUF (Labour Party Youth), who he has tied to what he calls “cultural Marxism”. His target was not chosen at random. Rather, it was carefully considered. How can I support this claim?
Anders Behring Breivik has been an active participant on website document.no. It is unreasonable to place any blame on document.no for this fact. Although the website has proven a nexus for immigration-critical political thought in Norway in later years, it should be considered moderate when considered in relation to Breivik’s actions. The editorial staff of document.no does not consist of insane racists, and I expect they are as troubled by recent events as the rest of us. But Breivik’s comments on the website — all of which have been compiled and published by document.no — reveals fairly precisely what sort of thinking has inspired Breivik. One example:
I ran businesses for a couple of years while studying, and earned a couple of mill[ions] to finance a non-profitable, politically active lifestyle. I am now spending these resources on full-time work to develop and market the Vienna School of Thought that Fjordman, Bat Ye’or, Spencer + so many others have already contributed greatly towards. Over the past three years I have worked full-time on a culturally conservative volume that will serve to develop and market these political doctrines even further.
In another comment, he writes:
Not sure where I should bring this up, but our own Fjordman is about to awarded the third most regarded/influential European anti-Jihad/anti-multicult[uralist]/anti-Marxist intellectual/blogger. After Gates of Vienna (No. 1) and New English review (No. 2). Surprisingly, Fjordman might even beat the Brussels Journal! In other words. Those who have yet to read Fjordman’s book “Defeating Eurabia” have been sleeping in class. I know it’s hard to be a prophet in one’s own country, but this exceeds all expectations! Congratulations, Fjordman!
Fjordman, Gates of Vienna, Bat Ye’or and Robert Spencer are likely to be fairly unknown to most Norwegians. I have written about them before, for example in this article published on depesjer.no. I write about both Bat Ye’or and Fjordman, and I also quote from Fjordman’s “European declaration of independence”, published in, amongst other places, Brussels Journal. It says:
If these demands are not fully implemented, if the European Union isn’t dismantled, Multiculturalism isn’t rejected and Muslim immigration isn’t stopped, we, the peoples of Europe, are left with no other choice than to conclude that our authorities have abandoned us, and that the taxes they collect are therefore unjust and that the laws that are passed without our consent are illegitimate. We will stop paying taxes and take the appropriate measures to protect our own security and ensure our national survival.
Most participants in these communities — presumably including Fjordman — are hardly violent, and they rarely encourage direct acts of violence. The tone, however, is set in texts like the one quoted above. For years, these groups have spread their ideas via the web, and in this way contributed towards radicalization. I warned against this in my book, “Eurofascism”, several years ago. In it, I wrote:
The mythos of Fallaci and Bat Ye’or tell a story highly reminiscent of traditional fascist thinking. Europe is being occupied by a foreign cultural-religious force described solely in negative terms. This is the fault of the «liberal elites». It is no surprise that some Eurofascists support an apartheid regime based on religious adherence, and that they want leading liberal politicians tried for «treason».
In late 2005, for instance, a Norwegian blogger – living in one of the world’s richest countries, a country which has repeatedly been ranked as the ‘best place to live’ by the United Nations – called for a stop of all Muslim immigration. He also called for denying asylum to all asylum seekers «of Muslim faith», and for reviewing «all citizenships given by the Norwegian state for the last 40 years». In addition, he noted that «converting to Islam should be outlawed and viewed as cultural treason, and the convert should be banished». All this, of course, is only «a good beginning».
While this specific blogger was unknown even then and now is forgotten in the digital jungle, similar ideas are increasingly pushed by what could be called the brownshirts of the IT-era. Others, perhaps realising the difficulties of winning through with political demands as those above, resort to politically motivated violence and in some cases even to terrorism.
I wish I could say I was wrong back then. This is undoubtedly the most uncomfortable instance of “what did I tell you?” that I have ever experienced. I also want to direct your attention towards “The invisible terrorists”, written by Shoaib Sultan and myself in Samtiden no. 2, 2007. Here is a relevant extract (translated from Norwegian):
In the media and amongst politicians, the focus on Islamist terrorism has grown increasingly narrow, and is marred by a lack of knowledge about the motives of various terrorist groups, and sometimes — as in Berg’s case — a remarkable lack of historical context. Strategies and models of interpretation that cast Muslim terrorists as fundamentally different from “our own terrorists” makes them harder to defeat: the similarities between right-wing extremists and Islamist terrorists are far greater than the differences.
The most important consideration in any conflict is the importance of knowing your enemies. In the struggle against terrorism, European and American discourse seems blinded by a caricature of the presumed foe. Too often, other facets of terrorism are forgotten. This will be exploited.
I have never been as horrified at finding myself proven right.
This blog post is a bit of a mess. My thoughts are still unfocused. The shock is still overwhelming. But I am certain of one thing. The next time I hear anyone repeat the mantra “not every muslim is a terrorist, but every terrorist is a muslim”, I will find myself truly enraged.
If anyone has questions about these communities, about which I have conducted extensive journalistic research these past years, feel free to pose them here or contact me via e-mail at oyvindstrommen (at) gmail.com