Experts Warn against Similar Attacks in Europe

Many European neo-Nazi and nationalist forums were filled with posts praising Breivik’s attack as a “successful hit” on Saturday and Sunday, alerting police forces and terrorism experts in Europe against copycat attacks. Terrorism experts on Belgian television stations have been repeatedly saying that European police and security networks have been focusing on the Islamist threat since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, which led them to neglect the growing far-right groups in EU countries.

Norwegian police are still investigating whether Breivik acted alone, as he asserts he did. Six people were briefly detained in Oslo on Saturday. Norwegian police said they have reason to suspect that the attacks could be an organized effort.

In a 1,500 page manifesto he wrote, the gunman thanks his “brothers” in France, Germany, Sweden, Australia, Italy, Spain, Finland, Belgium, Holland, Denmark and the US for their “assistance,” which strengthens the suspicion of involvement of others.

Meanwhile, Norwegian historian and journalist Dag Herbjørnsrud, who is currently editor-in-chief of the weekly magazine Ny Tid, shared his evaluation of the attacks saying, “The terror attacks on July 22 shocked Norway and the world. The brutality and inhumanity are beyond comprehension. It raises tough questions about what kind of [communities] we have developed here in Norway and in other countries around the world for the future. This is a time for mourning, but also for reflection. At the same time, it is important to stress that Norwegian politicians and society have stood together during these troubled days. And it gives us hope that people around the world have offered support. I believe that both Norway and all countries have a common challenge in curbing extremism and building peaceful societies that respect and honor religious and ethnic minorities. The perpetrator is said to be a 32-year-old Norwegian man who wanted to attack a multicultural society he disliked. I don’t think it is correct to term the suspected terrorist as a ‘Christian,’ just as it is wrong to claim that al-Qaeda stands for ‘Islamic terrorism.’ Maybe we all can from now on be more thoughtful when it comes to labeling, generalizations and jumping to conclusions. I hope we can turn this horrible tragedy into a lesson for a greater, global good.”

Norwegian journalist Øystein Heggen said the main motivation of the attacker seemed to be his “hatred towards the ruling Social Democratic Party in Norway (Arbeiderpartiet) and this party’s youth organization (AUF).” He also noted that Breivik has strong anti-Islamic and anti-immigration views. “He has not focused attacks against Muslims but against those politicians who represent this ‘treason’ to European culture. He wanted to change the society through a revolution,” he said.

Heggen said he feared that smaller far-right groups might grow stronger in Europe and in Norway in the coming years. “This we have seen already and it may increase due to higher unemployment and less social security in many European countries after the financial crisis. The right-wing groups may cause more trouble in the future but I do think that they will continue to stay rather small.”

Meanwhile, officials from Poland, which holds the EU term presidency and EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove will be meeting with Norwegian officials to discuss measures against terrorism, according to a statement released by the EU term presidency on Monday. The statement said officials from Norway will be invited to participate in Committee on Terrorism (COTER) and Terrorism Working Group (TWG) meetings. Both groups will hold meetings shortly, the statement noted.

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