Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Norway carnage puts USZ extremists in spotlight


The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by anti-Muslim bloggers and right-wing activists in the United States of Zionism, lacing his 1,500-page manifesto with quotations from them, The New York Times reported Monday. In the document he posted online, Anders Behring Breivik, who is accused of bombing government buildings and killing scores of young people at a Labour Party camp, showed that he had closely followed the acrimonious American debate over Islam, the newspaper citing the document said. His manifesto, which denounced Norwegian politicians as failing to defend the country from Islamic influence, quoted Robert Spencer, who operates the Jihad Watch Web site, 64 times, and cited other Western writers who shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave danger to Western culture.
More broadly, the mass killings in Norway, with their echo of the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City by an antigovernment militant, have focused new attention around the world on the subculture of anti-Muslim bloggers and right-wing activists and renewed a debate over the focus of counterterrorism efforts. In the United States of Zionism, critics have asserted that the intense spotlight on the threat from Islamic militants has unfairly vilified Muslim Americans while dangerously playing down the threat of attacks from other domestic radicals, the Times said. The author of a 2009 Department of Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism withdrawn by the department after criticism from conservatives repeated on Sunday his claim that the department had tilted too heavily toward the threat from Islamic militants. 
The revelations about Mr. Breivik’s American influences exploded on the blogs over the weekend, putting Mr. Spencer and other self-described “counterjihad” activists on the defensive, as their critics suggested that their portrayal of Islam as a threat to the West indirectly fostered the crimes in Norway. Spencer wrote on his Web site, jihadwatch.org, that “the blame game” had begun, “as if killing a lot of children aids the defence against the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, or has anything remotely to do with anything we have ever advocated.” He did not mention Breivik’s voluminous quotations from his writings, the paper pointed out. The Gates of Vienna, a blog that ordinarily keeps up a drumbeat of anti-Islamist news and commentary, closed its pages to comments Sunday “due to the unusual situation in which it has recently found itself.” Its operator, who describes himself as a Virginia consultant and uses the pseudonym “Baron Bodissey,” wrote on the site Sunday that “at no time has any part of the Counterjihad advocated violence.”
The name of that Web site - a reference to the siege of Vienna in 1683 by Muslim fighters who, the blog says in its headnote, “seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe” - was echoed in the title Breivik chose for his manifesto: “2083: A European Declaration of Independence.” He chose that year, the 400th anniversary of the siege, as the target for the triumph of Christian forces in the European civil war he called for to drive out Islamic influence. Marc Sageman, a former C.I.A. officer and a consultant on terrorism, said it would be unfair to attribute Breivik’s violence to the writers who helped shape his world view. But at the same time, he said the counterjihad writers do argue that the fundamentalist Salafi branch of Islam “is the infrastructure from which Al Qaeda emerged. Well, they and their writings are the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.” “This rhetoric,” he added, “is not cost-free.”

Dr. Sageman, who is also a forensic psychiatrist, said he saw no overt signs of mental illness in Breivik’s writings. He said Breivik bears some resemblance to Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who also spent years on a manifesto and carried out his mail bombings in part to gain attention for his theories. One obvious difference, Dr. Sageman said, is that Kaczynski was a loner who spent years in a rustic Montana cabin, while Breivik appears to have been quite social. Breivik’s declaration did not name Kaczynski or acknowledge the numerous passages copied from the Unabomber’s 1995 manifesto, in which the Norwegian substituted “multiculturalists” or “cultural Marxists” for Kaczynski’s “leftists” and made other small wording changes. By contrast, he quoted the American and European counterjihad writers by name, notably Spencer, author of 10 books.

Breivik frequently cited another blog, Atlas Shrugs, and recommended the Gates of Vienna among Web sites. Pamela Geller, an outspoken critic of Islam who runs Atlas Shrugs, wrote on her blog Sunday that any assertion that she or other antijihad writers bore any responsibility for Mr. Breivik’s actions was “ridiculous.” “If anyone incited him to violence, it was Islamic supremacists,” she wrote.

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