Monday, July 25, 2011

Breivik and al Qaeda: Experts in Mass Killings and Xenophobia

The following blog post is my response to an article I read on  You can read the article here: Breivik and al Qaeda

You are correct in suggesting al Qaeda as an inspiration for Breivik, but to say he "deeply admires" them is an overstatement and misleading.  He is inspired by them because, like him, they are on the extreme right-wing of the political spectrum – they just fight for different cultural causes that are indeed at odds with each other.  They are not communists, marxists, or secular-socialists, whom would be on the left; they are fascists, extreme-nationalists, or cultural- supremacists.  Their goals are the same – cultural/ethnic dominance of a region – albeit for divergent groups of people, whom would eventually need to rectify with each other (most likely violently) if either group was to achieve its goals.

Therefore it should come as no surprise that Breivik noted the utility of al Qaeda’s ideology, the success of their tactics, or a potential willingness to work with them to achieve his European goals.  There are plenty of examples throughout history of fascist/extreme-nationalist organizations teaming up with groups they would otherwise find undesirable in order to achieve a tactical advantage.  This does not mean that one right-wing group ever accepted, pretended to accept, or “deeply admired” the ideology of the other group they were working with.  Breivik, like the Nazis in WWII-era Germany, and less like the fanaticism of many Islamic terror outfits, seems to be a pragmatist – willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve his goals.  This is the scariest part.  In his writings he does not appear to be clinically insane, but instead a quite sane and pragmatic idealist.  The perfect killer.

Yes, Breivik seems to have found inspiration in al Qaeda, but that’s only because they are the contemporary example of “best-in-class” right-wing terrorism.  Why wouldn’t he want to get some help in his uphill battle from the guys who are doing it right?  I think they've advertised enough to garner the respect of any terrorist worth his salt, "Al Qaeda: Experts in mass killings and xenophobia."  And don’t willingly overlook that he also mentioned his empathy for “Christian” Serbia’s plight, “All they (the Serbs) wanted was to drive out Islam by deporting the Albanian Muslims back to Albania.”

The point is that Breivik, al Qaeda, the Nazis, the Taliban – are all examples of what is wrong with right-wing extremism particularly and political extremism of any kind generally.  Let’s just hope us pragmatists in the middle can continue to keep our heads on a swivel.  And while it’s likely the scenario would play out the other way around, you better believe that if Breivik came to al Qaeda bearing gifts – nuclear or biologically weapons for example – they would gladly accept his offer of partnership.


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