The Massacre in Norway

I’ve been finding it hard to process this attack because of the extreme level of callous planning behind it, and because we holidayed there a few years ago and it strikes me harder than it otherwise would because I can imagine some of the lovely people I met there being caught up with relatives hurt or worse in these attacks. India Today has an outline/timeline of the facts known so far: the bomb in Oslo targeted a government building using the same homemade fertiliser-and-fuel explosive as the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma; while the authorities were dealing with the aftermath of the bombing, the accused is alleged to have gone to an island holiday camp where the Youth Wing of the national Labor Party was holding a summer leadership camp; he called the young people to him by pretending to be a policeman come to inform them about the bombing, and then opened fire with a machine gun to kill dozens immediately, and then hunted down those who fled over the next 90 minutes that it took the police to arrive; once the police arrived he surrendered having killed at least 82 people on that island, and at least 7 people in the bombing. There are still people missing from the bombing site in Oslo and from the island Utoeya.

He reportedly wrote a 1500 page manifesto beforehand, denouncing multiculturalism and Muslim immigration, but the police have not confirmed the existence of such a document.

Authorities have not given a motive for the attacks, but both were in areas connected to the Labor Party, which leads a coalition government.

The Utoeya island where the shooting took place

Even police confessed to not knowing much about the suspect, but details trickled out about him all day: He had ties to a right-leaning political party, he posted on Christian fundamentalist websites, and he rented a farm where police found 9,000-11,000 pounds (4,000-5,000 kilograms) of fertilizer.

Police said the suspect is talking to them and has admitted to firing weapons on the island. It was not clear if he had confessed to anything else he is accused of.

“He has had a dialogue with the police the whole time, but he’s a very demanding suspect,” Sponheim said.

Earlier in the day, a farm supply store said they had alerted police that he bought six metric tons of fertilizer, which can be used in homemade bombs. That’s at least one metric ton more than was found at the farm, according to police.

Police and soldiers were searching for evidence and potential bombs at the farm south of Oslo on Saturday. Havard Nordhagen Olsen, a neighbor, told The Associated Press that Breivik moved in about one moth ago, just next to his house and said he seemed like “a regular guy.”

The site of the blast in Oslo

Olsen said he recognized his neighbor in the newspapers this morning and said he was in shock.

Meanwhile, Mazyar Keshvari, a spokesman for Norway’s Progress Party – which is conservative but within the political mainstream – said that the suspect was a paying member of the party’s youth wing from 1999 to 2004.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called the tragedy peacetime Norway’s deadliest day.

“This is beyond comprehension. It’s a nightmare. It’s a nightmare for those who have been killed, for their mothers and fathers, family and friends,” Stoltenberg told reporters Saturday.

The shock and horror I’m feeling must be a pale shadow of what those in Norway are feeling. My thoughts are with them all.

Categories: crisis, culture wars, parties and factions, violence

Tags: , ,

7 replies

  1. LA TImes: In Norway, piecing together suspect’s motives

    Officials said they would not speculate on whether his political or religious views played a role in the attack.
    But a chilling 1,500-page political manifesto, titled “A European Declaration of Independence,” posted on the Internet earlier this year appears to lay out Breivik’s world views. Exact authorship of the book could not be immediately verified.
    Sections of the online book include “What your government, the academia and the media are hiding from you,” “Documenting EU’s deliberate strategy to Islamize Europe” and “How the feminists’ ‘War Against the Boys’ paved the way for Islam.”
    The book calls for a “conservative revolution” and “preemptive declaration of war,” including “armed resistance against the cultural Marxists/multiculturalist regimes of Western Europe.”
    It describes “attack strategies,” including assassinating professors and carrying out coordinated assaults on multiple targets at the same time.
    In a passage that appeared to predict the tactics in the twin attacks on Friday, the manifesto advises: “You will usually always be caught, so instead of going home and waiting for someone to knock at your door, move to your second target, then the third, etc.”
    The treatise suggests wearing a police SWAT uniform as a disguise to avoid raising suspicion while moving around with weapons. And it specifically mentions targeting annual political meetings, barbecues and gatherings that draw hundreds of people, using flame-throwers or assault rifles on the crowds. “The party delegates will flee like rats from the fire,” the book reads.

  2. The big similarity I’m seeing is between this bloke (and any of his compatriots – although from everything I’ve heard, the logistics point to it just being the one person) and a certain Mr McVeigh in the USA. In both cases, the gentlemen in question were members of right-wing movements, and while they started out in the mainstream of the right-wing, they moved out toward the extremes fairly rapidly. In Mr McVeigh’s case, he got fed up with the folks spouting rhetoric, and decided it was time for action – and action is what he took. (It’s worth noting that prior to the attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11 2001, Mr McVeigh’s attack was the largest and most deadly terrorist attack on US soil).
    I’ll be interested in finding out whether the same applies for the accused gentleman in this particular case.

  3. The parallels with McVeigh are certainly striking, although this suspect seems to have been more organised and systematic. Perhaps because the holiday camp was always his primary target, so getting in and out away from the building in Oslo was crucial to the major goal, therefore he planned it extremely tightly? The political buildings in Oslo are near-deserted this time of year – everybody’s on holidays – so he couldn’t have expected the bomb to kill many people (and it didn’t). But the Oslo explosion provided a very effective distraction of the authorities so that it took them a terribly long time to respond the the reports of gunfire on the island.

  4. He also used the bombing as his means of approaching victims on the island, “reporting” the explosion to them. Scumbag.

  5. Utøya is owned by the youth branch of the Norweigian Labour Party (AUF), so to
    Officials said they would not speculate on whether his political or religious views played a role in the attack.
    I say bah! This was not some random holiday camp island on a randon weekend.
    I’ve tried to translate the paragraph on Utøya in the second link:

    Utøya is the AUF’s own island, located 45 minutes from Oslo in Tyrifjorden in Buskerud [an administrative district]. Utøya is perhaps best known for its yearly political summer camp which lasts 4 days and gathers around 800 youths. The island is 12 hectares, and has beds and sanitary facilities for about 100. Utøya is more and more rented out to other organisations, and its good facilities for meetings and very attractive location makes it attractive to customers. There are many AUF members who have memories of Utøya, as the island was gifted to AUF by the Oslo branch on the 28th August 1950.

  6. I think its part of a wider problem provoked by the incendiary right. For example, in the USA last week, a rightist who had said publically Obama should be shot, surely incitement, was let off by a court, to much outrage.
    Given the fevered atmosphere there because of Republican fillibustering over supply, what sort of open invitation is to some McVeigh type, fired with the zeal of ideological fundamentalism, to take him out? Thinking on, people would remember Jones and the Murdoch press whippingup the Cronulla frenzy.
    I think they want society bitterly feuding within itself, diverted while they privatise and cheat democracy into fascism with more surveillance for “law and order”. This is not to say that Breivik is a”Stepford terrorist”, but that a weak and unbalanced mind is susceptible to rabble rousing, just at this time in history

  7. repost of my comment on Spotlight the Spin at LP:
    OK, I’m going to attempt to unpack this particularly egregious spin from Glenn Beck:

    ”There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like, you know, the Hitler youth. I mean, who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing.”

    This appears to be a blatant deployment of a Big Distracting Thing, aiming to deflect comparisons of Breivik’s writings with writings from various influential Tea Party types by invoking the ghosts of Nazism against Breivik’s victims.
    He’s relying on people running with their confirmation biases and not bothering to even stop and notice the elephant in the room: “Hey, what’s the difference between that camp in Norway and the Tea Party’s “vacation liberty schools” for American kids?” Apart from the differing partisan politics underlying the camp curricular program, virtually nothing – but Beck doesn’t want his listeners to see the Norwegian victims as just like them/their children. He’s deliberately casting them as Other.
    Cui bono?

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