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Journal of America Team:

 Editor in chief: 
Abdus Sattar Ghazali

 Managing Editor:
Mertze Dahlin   

Senior Editor:
Arthur Scott

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July 24, 2011

Oslo massacre exposes the nexus of Islamophobia
and right-wing extremism

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

More details have emerged on the Norwegian terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik and now we have enough details to piece together what’s behind Friday’s massacre which saw car bombings in Oslo and a mass shooting attack on the island of Utoya that caused the deaths of more than 90 people. 

Hours before his terrorist acts, Anders Behring Breivik left a 1550-page manifesto on internet. Its title is 2083: A European Declaration of Independence. Apparently, the title is rooted in a demogrpahic claim that Muslims will become a majority in Europe.

As Doug Saunders reported, the manifesto draws on “Eurabia” and “Muslim Tide” writers such as Bruce Bawer, Melanie Phillips, Mark Steyn, Geert Wilders, Theodore Dalrymple, and Robert Spencer, as well as many figures from the extreme right, to create an argument that Muslims, immigrants, multiculturalists, European Union backers and social democrats are part of a plot to undermine Europe’s Christian civilization. It then draws on the extreme right, the ideas of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups (which he admires) to describe and rationalize a plot which almost exactly matches his activities on July 22, 2011.

While Breivik is relatively dismissive of the larger anti-immigration parties’ prospects for meaningful change, he lauds more fringe groups such as the Stop Islamization of America and Stop Islamization of Europe, websites including JihadWatch and Gates of Vienna, and the True Finns, some of whose members were sent the manifesto shortly before his killing spree started.

Breivik also brags of his links to and friendship with members of the UK’s English Defense League. However, he chides the EDL for being “dangerously naive” in pursuing a democratic path, and advises it to instead attack a nuclear plant to “cripple the British economy, contributing to creating an optimal climate for significant political change.”

According to his lawyer Geir Lippestad, Breivik spent years writing the 1,500-page manifesto that police were examining. It was signed as “Andrew Berwick.” The date was referred to later in the document as the year (2083) that coups d’etat would engulf Europe and overthrow the elite he maligns.

“He wanted a change in society and, from his perspective, he needed to force through a revolution,” Geir Lippestad told public broadcaster NRK. “He wished to attack society and the structure of society.”

The manifesto vowed revenge on those who it accused of betraying Europe. “We, the free indigenous peoples of Europe, hereby declare a pre-emptive war on all cultural Marxist/multiculturalist elites of Western Europe. ... We know who you are, where you live and we are coming for you,” the document said. “We are in the process of flagging every single multiculturalist traitor in Western Europe. You will be punished for your treasonous acts against Europe and Europeans.”

The Knights Templar Video

In the manifesto, Breivik referred to the Knights Templar group. According to the Associated Press, the use of an anglicized pseudonym could be explained by a passage in the manifesto describing the founding, in April 2002 in London, of a group he calls a new Knights Templar. The Knights Templar was a medieval order founded to protect Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land after the First Crusade.

A 12-minute video clip posted on YouTube with the same title as the manifesto featured symbolic imagery of the Knights Templar and crusader kings as well as slides suggesting Europe is being overrun by Muslims. Police could not confirm that Breivik had posted the video, which also featured photographs of him dressed in a formal military uniform and in a wet suit pointing an assault rifle.

The video was a series of slides that accused the left in Europe of allowing Muslims to overrun the continent: One image showed the BBC’s logo with the “C” changed into an Islamic crescent. Another declared that the end result of the left’s actions would be an “EUSSR.”

More quotes from the Manifesto

For me it is very hypocritical to treat Muslims, Nazis and Marxists differ. They are all supporters of hate-ideologies…(page 2-3)

What is globalization and modernity to do with mass Muslim immigration?

And you may not have heard and Japan and South Korea? These are successful and modern regimes even if they rejected multiculturalism in the 70′s. Are Japanese and South Koreans goblins?

Can you name ONE country where multiculturalism is successful where Islam is involved? The only historical example is the society without a welfare state with only non-Muslim minorities (U.S.)…(page 7)

We have selected the Vienna School of Thought as the ideological basis. This implies opposition to multiculturalism and Islamization (on cultural grounds). All ideological arguments based on anti-racism. This has proven to be very successful which explains why the modern cultural conservative movement / parties that use the Vienna School of Thought is so successful: the Progress Party,Geert Wilders, document and many others…(page 13)

I consider the future consolidation of the cultural conservative forces on all seven fronts as the most important in Norway and in all Western European countries. It is essential that we work to ensure that all these 7 fronts using the Vienna school of thought, or at least parts of the grunlag for 20-70 year-struggle that lies in front of us.

To sums up the Vienna school of thought:  Cultural Conservatism (anti-multiculturalism); Against Islamization; Anti-racist; Anti-authoritarian (resistance to all authoritarian ideologies of hate); Pro-Israel/against non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries; Defender of the cultural aspects of Christianity; To reveal the Eurabia project and the Frankfurt School (ny-marxisme/kulturmarxisme/multikulturalisme)

Breivik’s right-wing pro-Israel line, combined with his antipathy to Muslims, is just one example of the European far-right’s ideology, exemplified by groups such as the English Defense League (EDL).  The EDL, a group Breivik praises, along with the anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders, share with Breivik an admiration for Israel.

Anti-Muslim activists and right-wing Zionists share a political narrative that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is a “clash of civilizations,” one in which Judeo-Christian culture is under attack by Islam.  Israel, in this narrative, is the West’s bulwark against the threat that Islam is posing to Europe and the United States. 

Daniel Pipes

Mondoweiss wesbsite pointed out that Breivik’s admiration for the likes of Daniel Pipes is also telling, and should serve as a warning that, while it would be extremely unfair and wrong to link Pipes in any way to the massacre in Norway, Breivik’s views are not so far off from some establishment neoconservative voices in the U.S.  For instance, both Pipes and Breivik share a concern with Muslim demographics in Europe.  In 1990, Pipes wrote in the National Review that “Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene…All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.”

Pipes was appointed by the Bush administration to the U.S. Institute of Peace, and sits on the same board than none other than the Obama administration’s point man on the Middle East, Dennis Ross.

Pipes’ and Breivik’s concern about Muslim and Arab demographics also recall the remarks of Harvard Fellow Martin Kramer, who infamously told the Herzliya Conference in Israel last year that the West should “stop providing pro-natal subsidies for Palestinians with refugee status…Israel’s present sanctions on Gaza have a political aim, undermine the Hamas regime, but they also break Gaza’s runaway population growth and there is some evidence that they have.”

Adding to the Israel/Palestine angle here is the fact that the day before the attack on the island of Utoya, a Palestine solidarity event was held there.

Mondoweiss says it remains unclear why Breivik, and his accomplices if he had any, would attack young Norwegians.  But it probably had something to do with Breivik’s belief that European governments, and the Norwegian government, were run by “Marxists” allied with Islamist extremists who were bent on destroying Europe through “multiculturalism.”

The treatise ends with a detailed description of the plot, ending with a note dated 12:51 p.m. on July 22: “I believe this will be my last entry.”

The nexus of Islamophobia and right-wing extremism

Tellingly, reports reveal Breivik's admiration for bigoted groups such as the English Defense League and Stop the Islamization of Europe, which campaign against Muslims and the building of mosques. Similarly, Geert Wilders' Freedom Party in Holland appears to win Breivik's approval because it seeks to protect Western culture from a growing threat of so-called "Islamization". 

Mondoweiss website argues that an examination of Breivik’s views, and his support for far-right European political movements, makes it clear that only by interrogating the nexus of Islamophobia and right-wing Zionism can one understand the political beliefs behind the terrorist attack.

Breivik is apparently an avid fan of U.S.-based anti-Muslim activists such as Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and Daniel Pipes, and has repeatedly professed his ardent support for Israel. 

The nexus of Islamophobia and right-wing extremism was clearly on display during last summer’s “Ground Zero mosque” hysteria, which culminated in a rally where Geller and Wilders addressed a crowd that included members of the EDL waving Israeli flags. 

According to Mondoweiss website, this comment by Breivik is one example of the twisted way in which Islamophobia and a militant pro-Israel ideology fit together: Cultural conservatives disagree when they believe the conӾict is based on Islamic imperialism, that Islam is a political ideology and not a race.

While much remains to be learned about the attacks in Norway, it has exposed the dangerous nexus of Islamophobia, neoconservatism and right-wing Zionism, and what could happen when the wrong person subscribes to those toxic beliefs, Mondoweiss concludes.

Norway massacre reminiscent of Oklahoma bombing

Norway massacre seems a reminiscent of the 1995 Oklahoma bombing by the right-wing extremist, Timothy McVeigh, that claimed 168 lives, including 19 children under the age of 6, and injured more than 680 people. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 buildings within a sixteen-block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings.

Like the Oklahoma bombing, immediately after the news of the bombing of government buildings in Norway’s capital Oslo, the media was buzzed with speculations about who might have done it and why. Most speculation focused on so-called Islamist militancy and Muslims.

Not surprisingly, The American Enterprise Institute, now home to John Bolton, Lynne Cheney,and Newt Gingrich,  got their talking points into the Washington Post within hours.

The New York Times originally reported: A terror group, Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or the Helpers of the Global Jihad, issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, according to Will McCants, a terrorism analyst at C.N.A., a research institute that studies terrorism. In later editions, the story was revised to read: Initial reports focused on the possibility of Islamic militants, in particular Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or Helpers of the Global Jihad, cited by some analysts as claiming responsibility for the attacks. American officials said the group was previously unknown and might not even exist.

According to Turkish newspaper Zaman, shortly after the bomb exploded in Oslo on Saturday, almost all European TV stations began making mention of a new wave of Islamic terror. The culprits they suggested included a wide range of “Islamist” terrorist groups, including but not limited to al-Qaeda and Ansar al Islam. As the night advanced, TV and media outlets slowly replaced the Islamist terror thesis with a new one that is probably more disturbing to Europeans (that the terrorist is a rightist extremist).

Similarly, within hours of the Oklahoma bombing on April 19, 1995, most network news reports featured comments from experts on Middle Eastern terrorism who said the blast was similar to the World Trade Center explosion two years earlier.

Ibrahim Ahmad, a Jordanian American, had been traveling from his Oklahoma City home to Jordan on April 19, the day the 4,800-pound bomb ripped through the Federal building. Scooped up in the FBI's initial dragnet, he was questioned in Chicago, and then again in London, where British authorities grilled him for six hours. "When they said, 'You are under arrest in connection with the bombing,' I thought that was the end of the world for me," he told reporters.

However, after about 36 hours it became clear that domestic right-wing extremists were the prime suspects in the case but the media jump too quickly to speculate that the bombing was the work of Middle Eastern ‘terrorists’ while the so-called terrorist experts extended their had just like in the case of Oslo massacres to justify the media speculation.

Interestingly, when it transpired that it was a right-wing anti-Muslim Christian, the response was ‘it is unbelievable that a Norwegian would do such a thing.’

Nationalists pose bigger threat than al-Qaeda

Dr Robert Lambert,  Co-Director of the European Muslim Research Centre at the University of Exeter and Lecturer at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews, argues that while we must await the outcome of police investigations and court proceedings before reaching any firm conclusions about Breivik's motivation, it will nevertheless be instructive to begin an analysis of a violent extremist nationalist milieu in Europe and the US, and its dramatic shift towards anti-Muslim and Islamophobic thought since 9/11. To be sure, this will certainly be more relevant than an analysis of al-Qaeda terrorism.

Here is an excerpt from Dr Robert Lambert’s article titled, Nationalists pose bigger threat than al-Qaeda:

“Breivik can claim to have followed a long tradition of terrorism target selection that is intended to send a strong message to politicians in an attempt to persuade them to change policy. As leading terrorism scholar Alex Schmid reminds us, terrorism is a form of communication that "cannot be understood only in terms of violence". Rather, he suggests, "it has to be understood primarily in terms of propaganda" in order to penetrate the terrorist's strategic purpose. 

“Breivik appears to understand Schmid's analysis that terrorism is a combination of violence and propaganda. "By using violence against one victim," a terrorist "seeks to coerce and persuade others", Schmid explains. "The immediate victim is merely instrumental, the skin on a drum beaten to achieve a calculated impact on a wider audience." This is certainly the kind of rationalisation that perpetrators of political violence have adopted in many contexts in pursuit of diverse political causes for decades. 

“Many extremist nationalists in Norway, the rest of Europe, and North America will be appalled by Breivik's resort to terrorism and in particular his target selection. However, Breivik is likely to argue that he has sent a powerful and coercive message to all politicians in the West that will help put the campaign against the "Islamification of Europe" at the top of their agenda.  

“Breivik may hope that others will take inspiration from his act and seek to emulate him. Terrorism may be repulsive to many who share Breivik's bigoted anti-Muslim views, but it is a tactic that only requires a small number of adherents to achieve its purpose, whatever the cause. So if even only a handful follow his route, Breivik will count that as a success. 

“Finally, it is only necessary to recall the circumstances of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 to be reminded of extremist nationalists' bomb-making capacity and target selection. Timothy McVeigh was able to utilise skills and contacts he acquired in his US military service to build and detonate a bomb that killed 168 victims, injured 680 others, destroyed or damaged 324 buildings within a sixteen-block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, shattered glass in an additional 258 nearby buildings, and caused at least $652m worth of damage.

“With minimal help, McVeigh was able to inflict more harm and damage with one bomb than four suicide bombers in London operating under an al-Qaeda flag in London ten years later,” Dr Robert Lambert concludes.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of America.