Without anyone claiming responsibility, fingers of suspicion were immediately directed toward the usual suspects. Among them were Mullah Krekar, who migrated to Norway as a Kurdish Muslim cleric; those who may still be holding a grudge against a Norwegian tabloid magazine for reprinting Dutch cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad; and, of course, the seemingly ubiquitous al Qaeda.
Norway’s limited engagement as a part of the NATO presence in Afghanistan and its support of the Libyan opposition movement were cited as additional reasons for the attack.
Choosing a summer afternoon during the height of the vacation season to target largely empty buildings did not fit al Qaeda’s modus operandi -- choosing sites with dense population. The breaking news of a person dressed as a policeman who had indiscriminately shot members of the Labor Youth League summer camp on the island of Utøya northwest of Oslo further departed from anything for which al Qaeda has taken credit. (Later, the island massacre, which resulted in 84 reported fatalities, would dwarf the Oslo explosion with its death toll of seven.)
Yet “experts” on TV and laymen on Twitter kept up the “Islamic terror” drumbeat. Most vociferous among them was a British “security expert” with the Dickensian name of Justin Crump who acted as an anchor buddy on Al-Jazeera English and saw the al Qaeda fingerprints all over the travesty. Al Qaeda, he opined, targeted “tall buildings,” similar to the bombed 17-story government building, to which someone from the American heartland might have responded, “No sh**, Sherlock.”
More nonsense flooded in. Norway was a “soft target” for Muslim terror, Europe’s “backdoor,” the beginning of Iman al Zawahiri’s “summer campaign.” Even when the gunman on Utøya, who had been seen at the city center earlier that day, was identified as a six-foot, blond Norwegian, chatter on the web immediately had him as a “recent convert to Islam.”
The authoritative New York Times reported Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, Aides of the Global Jihad, as having claimed responsibility for the attack. The web article did not bother to mention that in the aftermath of such events more down-market extremists make a stab at gaining unearned kudos.
By early evening California time, it was obvious that the bizarre events resembled the Oklahoma City bombing with suggestions of domestic terror from the extreme right. Anders Behring Breivik was identified as the gunman with anti-Islamic, fundamentalist Christian beliefs. Fundamentalists of all stripes have depressingly similar means of expressing themselves through misdirected rage.
Yet the harrowing day underlined the untenable situation of 1.57 billion Muslims across the globe, many residing in 47 Muslim-majority nation states. Comprising some of the poorest people in the world, they are wholeheartedly demonized due to the activities of a handful of extremist, misguided organizations whose consequential members have never gone to bed hungry. One in five Muslim Arabs live on two dollars a day; six of 10 are illiterate. Most of them are hardly in a position to coordinate attacks on “tall buildings” in the “backdoor of Europe.”
Also alarming is the so-called “Muslim spring,” which has been largely engineered and supported by the United States and Britain, with other allies falling in line. As country after country has exploded in rebellion, fissures have appeared in each to pit secularists against Muslim hardliners, Copts against Muslims, Sunnis against Shias and Berbers against Arabs while reviving largely dormant tribal divisions.
The agenda, it seems, is to implement the same old colonialist divide-and-conquer strategy that would augur a decade of Muslim chaos to the benefit of Big Oil and arms dealers. Perhaps most blatant is the situation in Libya where the United States backs a ragtag, hilariously amateurish “rebel force” in battle against a brutal military establishment with no end in sight.
Ten Norwegian soldiers died while serving in Afghanistan, a number far smaller than the young people who were slaughtered on Utøya. Yet today’s masters of war fail to understand that the spirit of war knows no sides. It is an equal opportunity killer. Should Muslims continue to die in their “awakening for democracy,” and should Iran become a target of attack by Israel or the United States, a war of unimaginable proportions awaits.
This war would not be the “clash of civilizations,” but a world war which would engage the United States and the European Union on one side, and China and Russia on the other, to fill the Middle Eastern power vacuum with its natural and geopolitical riches.
Perhaps the angelic-looking Breivik, with a glint of madness in his blue eyes, is serving as a perverse, cautionary messenger. If one man can make the world stand still on a single, dreadful day, think what nuclear powers armed to the teeth can do in a final confrontation for all the spoils.
NAM contributor Behrouz Saba is a Los Angeles-based writer and native of Iran.