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Edge on Terrorism

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Where the Violent Right meets the Violent Left

July 27th 2011

Europe Topics - Anders B Breivik
Anders Breivik

The horror of mass murder in Oslo last week begs nothing as much as distance. All the first comments were wrong. Knowledgeable people - "experts" - were sure it was Muslims and wondered why Norway was a target since Norway is certainly hospitable to Muslims and hostile - sometimes virulently hostile - to Israel. Maybe it was the Mohammed cartoons, maybe it was Norway in NATO, but something clearly made Norwegian politicians - and children - enemies of jihadist Muslims.

That didn't even make sense. Of course, the truth doesn't seem to make sense either - that it was a Norwegian man who was anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-liberal in the extreme, who rather than killing the object of his hatred killed Norwegian children.

What does make some sense is that Anders Breivik and the jihadists are to the point where the far reaches of the spectrum come together - fascists, brown shirts, communists, and jihadis all believe in hierarchies of people, insiders and outsiders, like us and not like us, worthy and unworthy, tolerable and intolerable. They are not "nuts," not insane in the sense of not knowing. They know what they're doing and have a well-developed plan for doing it. They don't plan to die. Hitler, Stalin, Hassan Nasrallah and Khalid Mashaal sent the least of their own to die while killing others. Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, John Allen Muhammed and Anders Breivik were making statements. [Breivik apparently plans to use his trial to make more statements, although it is unclear that the Norwegian government will permit it.]

But killing children? Isn't it insane to kill children?

Not necessarily. People who are so certain that they know who needs to die are willing to use any means necessary, including their own children. The Ayatollah Khomeini sent tens of thousands of Iranian children to their deaths holding keys to heaven as they ran through Iraqi minefields. Hamas teaches small children the glory of jihad, and 18 men are on trial in Minneapolis for sending young men to Somalia to train and die as jihadists. Child soldiers are found throughout Africa. People who are so certain that they should be protected are also willing to use their own children as shields - Hamas took children up to the rooftops so Israeli pilots would know that they were there and also set up rocket launchers next to schools. If the child shield worked, fine. If the child shield died, fine too as long as Israel got the blame.

Those same people certainly are willing to kill other people's children. The infant Shalhevet Pass was killed in her father's arms by a sniper who didn't choose the father, perhaps thinking that if children died their parents would leave. The same apparently went for Kobi Mandel or the Ohayan toddlers. Yoav, Elad and Hadas Fogel died because they were Jews, just like adult Jews only smaller, and they would grow up to be the enemy. Breivik also killed children who would grow up to be the enemy - liberal Norwegians. [We wanted to print some of their names, as we often do with Israelis, because they should be known as the individuals they are, not just as undifferentiated "victims." But the Norwegian government hasn't released them yet.]

If the radical-right-radical-left-jihadist movements are all of a single form - although it would really irritate them to think so - what is the rest of the world to do?

Americans may be temporarily comforted by the thought that the six tons of fertilizer Breivik bought to build his bombs might have brought him to the attention of the FBI in this country, but good police work can only go so far. It does no good for the West to pretend rabid and violent ideologies don't exist, or that just a little more tolerance would make people like us who really want to - and plan to - kill us.  Norwegians at the moment are clear about a certain danger from a marginalized fanatic of the fringe right, but the dangers of his fellow-travelers across the spectrum exist for all of us.

Shoshana Bryen is the Senior Director for Security Policy at JINSA, from where this article is adapted.

 

 

 

 


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