As the tragic events unfolded in Norway last Friday, many initial reports speculated that the attacks might have been planned by Muslim extremists and had possible links to al Qaeda. Major news outlets reported that a CIA analyst found a group called Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami (the Helpers of the Global Jihad) who was claiming responsibility for the attacks. They suggested Norway’s ties with NATO and involvement in Afghanistan had made the country a target.
This information turned out to be false. Norwegian native Anders Behring Breivik, who was captured following the killings, admitted to setting a bomb of that caused the explosion that rocked the Norwegian capital, Oslo, as well as opening fire at a Labor Party youth camp on a nearby island. Estimates on Monday put death totals around 86 people, with 76 from the shooting and 10 from the bomb. This total makes this one of the worst mass murders during peacetime.
After the bombing, early comparisons to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States were drawn, but based on what we now know, a comparison to Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City is more relevant. McVeigh’s attack was in the name of his anti-government, political beliefs. Breivik, as it turns out, was not a Muslim extremist, but an anti-Muslim extremist who wanted to protest Norway’s open policy of “multiculturalism” and the international spread of Islam.
Breivik claims that the attacks were not done with the intention to cause severe casualties, but to draw attention to his 1,500 page manifesto which he posted online, which outlines his disturbing beliefs that the Muslim community should be destroyed and any government who allows their proliferation is guilty of treason.
This tragedy has shown the world that while international terrorism and Muslim extremists have crowded headlines for the past ten years, other extremists and domestic terrorists have not disappeared. Governments and law enforcement agencies must remain vigilant to combat all forms of extremism and anyone who seeks to use violence against the public. Acts of terrorism are not exclusive to any country, race, or religion; so part of being prepared means understanding that threats can develop internally as well as externally.
Marlia Fontaine-Weisse is the Content Manager for Preparis.