Although the police have not officially named him, it’s pretty clear that Anders Behring Breivik, a native Norwegian, is the perpetrator in the Oslo terror attacks. The left has long been expecting another Tim McVeigh-style homegrown western terrorist, and now it looks as though they’ve found one in Breivik.
But so far we know very little about Breivik and his motives. And what little we do know is largely based on words that were posted by the killer himself on a Facebook page he set up just a few days before the killings:
On the Facebook page attributed to him, Mr Breivik describes himself as a Christian and a conservative. It listed his interests as hunting, body building and freemasonry…
Police chief Svinung Sponheim said that internet posting by Breivik suggested he has “some political traits directed toward the right, and anti-Muslim views”.
We can assume that Breivik composed the page knowing it would be heavily scrutinized after the mass murders, whether he lived or died. It was meant as a message, but of what sort? Is it true? Perhaps. Intentionally misleading? Perhaps. Half and half? Perhaps. He appears to have begun both the Facebook page and a meager (single tweet) Twitter account on the same day, July 17.
A great many people had originally theorized this was an al Qaeda attack due to its modus operandi, especially the double venue. It was logical to assume so, but also logical to point out that this conclusion might be wrong: the Timothy McVeighs of the world exist, and are not just a figment of some leftist multi-culturalist’s imagination. Evil comes in many guises, although it usually follows patterns.
Speaking of patterns, Breivik does seem to somewhat resemble McVeigh, with a few European twists. The perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing was a paranoid survivalist, loner (although he did have accomplices), and gun fanatic who hated government with a passion and bombed a government building. And Breivik does seem to fit the “loner” pattern even more than McVeigh; the Norwegian police have found Breivik’s allegiances to be somewhat of a mystery so far:
“He just came out of nowhere,” a police official told The Associated Press.
…[H]he didn’t belong to any known factions in Norway’s small and splintered extreme right movement, and had no criminal record except for some minor offenses, the police official told AP.
“He hasn’t been on our radar, which he would have been if was active in the neo-Nazi groups in Norway,” he said. “But he still could be inspired by their ideology.”…
Neo-Nazi groups carried out a series of murders and robberies in Scandinavia in the 1990s but have since kept a low profile.
“They have a lack of leadership. We have pretty much control of those groups,” the police official said.
So he’s not an official Nazi. Plus, Breivik calls himself “Christian” on his Facebook page. But his act is resoundingly un-Christian, and in fact anti-Christian; it goes against every tenet that Christianity holds dear.
The following appears to be the best clue about Breivik’s possible motives that has so far emerged [emphasis mine]:
He was a youth and adult member of the conservative Fremskrittspartiet (FrP) or Progress Party, VG newspaper reports, remaining involved until 2007. The party’s most prominent manifesto pledge is to minimize immigration.
His membership was confirmed by a senior party member, Jonas Kallmyr, who is quoted by VG as saying that encountering Breivik was “like meeting Hitler before World War II”…
[A] post in Breivik’s name in October 2009 advises “Hans”, described as the founder of Document.no, to “develop an alternative to the violent extreme Norwegian Marxist organisations Blitz, SOS Rasisme and Rod Ungdom” — all left-wing movements in Norway.
“The conservatives dare not openly express their viewpoints in public because they know that the extreme Marxists will trump them. We cannot accept the fact that the Labour Party is subsidising these violent “Stoltenberg jugend”, who are systematically terrorising the politically conservative,” the post reads.
He is making a reference to the youth movement of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who heads the Labour Party.
It’s quite a leap, though, from expressing that sort of anger in a comment on an online bulletin board to mowing down over 80 members of that youth movement in cold blood. The victims at the camp were all teenagers and young people, shot deliberately and methodically by the lone gunman:
“He first shot people on the island,” a 15-year-old camper named Elise told The Associated Press. “Afterward he started shooting people in the water.”
Those in the water were desperately trying to flee. This sort of cold-blooded behavior on the part of a perpetrator who sees and targets his victims seems less like the usual terrorist attack and more like the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Tucson, or any number of school mass murders—such as, for example, Charles Whitman at the U. of Texas. But most of all it resembles Columbine.
People tend to forget (or never even knew in the first place) that the Columbine shooters were not hurt kids getting back at those who’d teased them, but instead had a grandiose political agenda:
…Harris and Klebold planned for a year and dreamed much bigger. The school served as means to a grander end, to terrorize the entire nation by attacking a symbol of American life. Their slaughter was aimed at students and teachers, but it was not motivated by resentment of them in particular. Students and teachers were just convenient quarry, what Timothy McVeigh described as “collateral damage.”
The killers, in fact, laughed at petty school shooters. They bragged about dwarfing the carnage of the Oklahoma City bombing and originally scheduled their bloody performance for its anniversary. Klebold boasted on video about inflicting “the most deaths in U.S. history.” Columbine was intended not primarily as a shooting at all, but as a bombing on a massive scale. If they hadn’t been so bad at wiring the timers, the propane bombs they set in the cafeteria would have wiped out 600 people. After those bombs went off, they planned to gun down fleeing survivors. An explosive third act would follow, when their cars, packed with still more bombs, would rip through still more crowds, presumably of survivors, rescue workers, and reporters. The climax would be captured on live television. It wasn’t just “fame” they were after—Agent Fuselier bristles at that trivializing term—they were gunning for devastating infamy on the historical scale of an Attila the Hun. Their vision was to create a nightmare so devastating and apocalyptic that the entire world would shudder at their power.
And, but for a few problems with the explosives, they might have succeeded in at least some of this.
I started out by comparing Breivik to McVeigh, and the parallels seem obvious. But on reflection it seems that the better analogy might be to Harris and Klebold—who in turn acknowledged themselves to have been inspired by McVeigh. Breivik can call himself whatever he wants on his Facebook page, but my strong hunch is that, in the end, his motives will turn out to be a toxic mix of the personal and political: a combination of psychopathic imbalance, grandiosity, fascination with guns, and rage at the Labour Party for its advocacy of multiculturalism.