[ by Charles Cameron — round-up of commentary, varied sources ]
There has been a great deal written already about the events in Oslo and Utoya, and some of the most interesting materials are to be found in slightly out of the way places — and places can be “out of the way” for people because they’re ideologically opposed to one’s own central reading, as Valdis Krebs once notably showed with a social network graph of political book purchases on Amazon.
Accordingly, I am posting a slightly annotated list of pieces that I’ve found interesting over the last couple of days, not including much in the way of major news media, and slanting a bit left since the ZP readership arguably slants a bit right — although as a monarchist jungian zenman myself, I find the whole idea of birds flying with only one wing imaginatively implausible, morally reprehensible and biologically unsound.
In alphabetical order as organized by the titles of the relevant files on my own computer, then, to avoid favoritism:
Breivik and Al-Qaeda by Will McCants on Jihadica. McCants has come in for some unjust criticism recently, this piece is important because he’s among out best AQ specialists, and highlights Breivik‘s interest in AQ which at times amounts to “mirroring” ( see Abu Muqawama quoting Marc Sageman below)
Anders Behring Breivik: Soldier in the Christian Right Culture Wars, by Chip Berlet on Talk to Action. Berlet is an astute analyst from the left, one of the few political analysts with keen insight into apocalyptic and millennial thinkin, and a colleague from Center for Millennial Studies days. He has various other relevant posts up at Talk to Action.
Why right-wing domestic terrorists are our big blind spot: Let’s start with the media, by David Neiwert on Crooks & Liars features a totally mistaken attack on Will McCants (see above), and included here for that reason. Niewert is best as a monitor of far right militia groups and generally worth reading.
Thomas Hegghammer via Will McCants on Twitter. Hegghammer is a first-class Norwegian terrorism analyst, and his tweeted comments to McCants can be found in McCants’ twitter feed, but will soon disappear — replaced by other tweets worth noting.
What did the Oslo killer want? by Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy — listed here for the brilliant quip quotation from Breivik: “Just like Jihadi warriors are the plum tree of the Ummah, we will be the plum tree for Europe and for Christianity.” That’s a killer quote.
In response to Norway attacks, right-wing bloggers suddenly demand nuance, by Adam Serwer on the Washington Post’s Plum Line blog. Key quote, slightly redactedfor my purposes: “[ that ] school of analysis, which puts the blame on all Muslims for acts of terrorism perpetrated by Islamic extremists, has been fully discredited – … – terrorist acts are committed by individuals, and it is those individuals who should be held responsible.” That’s not the whole picture, but it’s a consideration.
Initial Plagiarism Test of Breivik’s Manifesto w/ the Unabomber’s by Jarret Brachman. I’m glad Brachman is doing “plagiarism analysis” of Breivik’s texts — I suggested to Chris Anzalone that he might try some if his university has the facilities — and Brachman has also been “Wordling” Breivik and the Unambomber. If the Open Source Center has translated Musab al-Suri by now, there’s another Wordle project that might prove interesting — and more generally, someone ought to compare al-Suri’s 1500 page A Terrorist’s Call to Global Jihad with Breivik’s similarly extensive manifesto — after all, both of them are espousing what Louis Beam called “leaderless resistance”…
Technological and Lone Operator Terrorism: Prospects for a Fifth Wave of Global Terrorism, a paper by Jeffrey D. Simon. I don’t know if this has been published yet, but it picks up on David Rapoport‘s seminal “The Four Waves of Modern Terrorism”. Blog-friend Jean Rosenfeld might like to comment further.
JOURNAL: Knights Templar, by John Robb at Global Guerrillas. John makes the connection between Breivik’s Templars and the Mexican narco-gangs we’ve discussed several times at ZP recently, a connection which David Ronfeldt also made in a comment here. Sharp guys, sharp eyes.
Is Norway’s Suspected Murderer Anders Breivik a Christian Terrorist? by Mark Juergensmeyer at Religion Dispatches. Juergensmeyer is one of the pre-eminent scholars of religious violence, someone who has interviewed a wide variety of activists from half a dozen religious traditions at least, east and west. His book, Terror in the Name of God, is a must read. Key conclusions here — read him to get his reasons for saying these things — “If bin Laden is a Muslim terrorist, Breivik and McVeigh are surely Christian ones” and “in an imagined cosmic warfare time is suspended, and history is transcended as the activists imagine themselves to be acting out timeless roles in a sacred drama.” All in all, a powerful piece.
Quote of the Day by Abu Muqawama at CNAS:
Marc Sageman, a former C.I.A. officer and a consultant on terrorism, said it would be unfair to attribute Mr. 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.”
Oslo Shooter A Frightening Reminder of Radical Right Terrorist Threat, by Heidi Beirich at SPLC’s HateWatch. Like them or not, SPLC keeps tabs on “homegrown” violence and the rhetoric that arguably enables it in the US context.
Amy Winehouse and the Norway Tragedy: Being More like God, by the Tailor of the Good Garment. The Tailor has a unique “Tailorite” angle on Islam and Sufism, is highly intelligent and highly unorthodox, and recently issued his own book which I look forward to reading — and probably won’t entirely understand. This post should be of interest especially to religious experts.
The Irrelevance of the Knights in a Global Society, by Juan Cole at Informed Comment. If Cole is irreverent enough to have had the White House on his tail, he’s probably (a) a familiar name to Zenpundit readers and (b) worth reading. This is quite a pair of sentences:
Breivik’s medieval romanticism, his artificial European nativism, his pan-Christian vision, his hierarchical, racist view of society, all belong to bits and pieces of past dark episodes in European history. It is as though he has picked through the trash heap of history and attempted to resurrect broken icons, toys and ruined weapons.
The Terror Attacks in Oslo: Anders Behring Breivik on the Middle East and Islam, by Reidar Visser on Iraq and Gulf Analysis. Keeping the best for last, am I? Well, almost. Visser is one of the foremost analysts of Iraq, and as you’d expect, he gets into some fine detail. Writing of the 2083 text, he says:
There is also more detailed commentary on the Middle East, with quotes supportive of the idea of a Christian federal region in Iraq as well as the Syrian Baathist, Allawite-led regime, because of its protection of Christians! But the action plan in this second document is far more chilling and foreshadows the violence that was unleashed in Oslo on 22 July.
Whether today’s alleged mass murder already coexisted with the armchair generalist who wrote far-fetched but moderately eloquent postings on document.no in October 2010 or whether Breivik was subject to a subsequent process of radicalisation that concluded with his violent attempt at declaring “European independence” remains to be seen.
Finally, Why the European Right Can’t Be Blamed for the Tragedy in Norway, by Joshua Foust at The Atlantic. Foust is another excellent and informed analyst, with a focus on Afghanistan and environs. I have my doubts about some readings of his conclusion here — “To really answer the question of why Breivik committed such atrocity, we have to move beyond his politics and his carefully placed manifesto” — but his point about the rhetoric of the right is a powerful antidote to other articles in my list.
And kudos to Kevin I Slaughter, who brought the Manifesto to our attention. He found it on Stormfront…
That’s it — gotta run. My freshly-minted 13-yr-old awaits his dad.