Wed, Jul 27, 2011 - Page 9 News List

Norway bombings shine spotlight on US anti-Muslim, right-wing bloggers

Counterterrorism efforts in the US shouldn’t focus on a single ideology, critics say, because threats from other extremist radicals there could be even more real and dangerous

By Scott Shane  /  NY Times News Service, NEW YORK

Illustration: Mountain People

The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam, lacing his 1,500-page manifesto with quotations from them, as well as copying multiple passages from the tract of “Unabomber,” Ted Kaczynsky.

In the document he posted online, Anders Behring Breivik, who is accused of bombing government buildings and killing scores of young people at a Labor Party camp, showed that he had closely followed the acrimonious US debate over Islam.

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 posed 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 anti-government 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 US, 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 The author of a 2009 Department of Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism withdrawn by the department after criticism from conservatives on Sunday repeated his claim that the department had tilted too heavily toward the threat from Islamic militants.

The revelations about Breivik’s US influences exploded on the blogs over the weekend, putting 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 defense 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 Gates of Vienna, a blog that ordinarily keeps up a drumbeat of anti-Islamist news and commentary, closed its pages to comments on 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 on 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 CIA 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 story has been viewed 6416 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top