Friday, July 22, 2011

Oslo bombed

I am quite upset to learn about this terrorist attack in Oslo, particularly since years ago I traveled through that country. Though at least 7 people died and more were harmed, it’s a small relief that the Prime Minister, who was seemingly the target of these attacks, was not hurt.

Oslo-bomb-attackTo recap, the attack seems to have targeted the prime-minister. A bomb exploded in the heart of Oslo’s “political” district, right next to the PM’s office. A gunman also fired shots outside the city, on the island Utoeya, at a youth Labour Party rally the PM was due to attend. The preliminary reports suggest that at least 7 people are dead as a result of the explosion, 15 injured and a number trapped in the rubble. Four people Close to 100 were killed on the island and police managed to arrest the perpetrator, who was linked to the bombing in Oslo. Friday is a holiday and government offices were not as busy as they could have been. Norway is a NATO member and, like Canada, participated in the war in Afghanistan.

First reaction: I cannot help noticing, once again, the complete idiocy of those who plan and inflict terror. If they’re those headed by some CIA-trained dude who was offered asylum by Pakistan and passed his time watching himself on video and masturbating, the hopelessly failed raccoons who keep attacking with blunt forks fail to grasp that prior to engaging a superior enemy, they need to at least make an attempt at education; then again, education tends to open minds and show peaceful alternatives to force, which is perhaps why they find themselves in this Catch 22.

LE: It turns out that the main suspect is Anders Breivik, 32, described in news reports as a libertarian who had turned to extreme right-wing views in his 20s. He studied commerce and was self-employed at Breivik Geofarm which would have given him access to sufficient fertilizer to make the bomb that damaged the PMO. His actions are in clear and obvious disagreement with libertarianism, which is a philosophy that strongly rejects violence; he is more of an anarchist than anything else. Furthermore, his “manifesto” mentions a large number of people, including Vlad Tepes aka Dracula, which makes such a linkage hazardous. Since he is alive, we will soon learn more about his. Here’s an eyewitness account (what a terrible way to die):

I was working in the information booth on the island.

We were informed by radio of a bombing in Oslo, so we gathered all 700 people on the island together to tell them.

A couple of minutes later we got a phone call to say one policeman was coming on to the shore to see us.

I went to the coffee shop to get supplies for everyone. I then heard gun shots and could see people running. As they were running, they were shot in the back.

People were falling dead right in front of me.

I ran through the campus to the tent area. I saw the gunman - two people started to talk to him and two seconds later they were both shot.

He was wearing a black uniform, with red edges. He looked liked a Nazi, with his police-like uniform and hair.

The gunman was very sure, calm and controlled. He looked like he knew what he was doing. He screamed at us that we would all die.

We all started to run down to the water, people had already undressed and started swimming. I thought I didn't have enough time to take off my clothes, so I started swimming in the rain, in my clothes and big boots.

I went for about 150 metres but the lake is about 800 metres long. I realised I wouldn't make it so I turned back.

I saw him standing 10 metres from me, shooting at the people who were swimming. He aimed his machine gun at me and I screamed at him, 'No please no, don't do it'. I don't know if he listened to me but he spared me.

He came back an hour later. I was with other survivors and we were lying down and hiding behind the trees and rocks. We were freezing in our wet clothes.

The shooting started again and people were falling on top of me, on my legs and falling into the water - that's when many people died. I just had to shield myself behind them, praying he wouldn't see me.

Then he came closer, I could feel his breath, I could feel his boots, I could feel the warmth of the barrel.

But I didn't move and that's what saved my life.

There is very little known about the gunman as he had no criminal record and kept a rather low profile, apart from participating in online forums holding strong nationalistic and anti-Muslim views. He’s been shooting on the island for more than 1h. 

On the Facebook page attributed to him, he describes himself as a Christian and a conservative. The Facebook page is no longer available but it also listed interests such as body-building and freemasonry. The gunman was described by witnesses who saw him on Utoeya island as tall and blond - and dressed in a police uniform. The image of him posted on Facebook depict a blond, blue-eyed man. The Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang quoted a friend as saying that the suspect turned to right-wing extremism when in his late 20s. The paper also said that he participated in online forums expressing strong nationalistic views. He had no military background except for ordinary national service and no criminal record, it seems.

A Twitter account attributed to the suspect has also emerged but it only has one post, which is a quote from philosopher John Stuart Mill: "One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests." As with his Facebook page, the tweet was posted on 17 July.

I traveled to Norway some time at the beginning of this millennium together with some Swiss friends. Norway – like the other Scandinavian countries as well as the Baltic countries – made an excellent impression upon me. I traveled throughout the entire Europe and I regard Scandinavia together with Switzerland as the pinnacle of the Western civilization: highly educated, polite, communicative, truly beautiful inside and out people who have built open, welcoming societies ruled by responsive, dedicated governments. In fact, I was so enamored with what I was experiencing that I arranged for a job with the intention to live and work there for a year. That did not pan out, as I got an email that a very close relative had just been diagnosed with metastatic cancer and needed my help, so I returned to Canada.

What concerns me is that even in this beautiful, open country, reactionary forces may use this attack to unleash a sick dose of security theatre on this proud land. One more reason to hurry up with my travel stories; they won’t undo the damage, but hopefully one will be able to better understand the beauty and importance of openness.

LE: This is a truly tragic event and the casualties seem to greatly exceed the initial estimates. I would rather not jump to conclusions, but it appears that this individual was the European version of Timothy McVeigh (rather than Jared Lee Loughner). It saddens me to learn that even a harmonious society can produced such deranged individuals. If anything, this goes to prove that we have to treat all extremism and intolerance similarly, since even xenophobia / racism / Islamophobia can cause people to turn against their own. Such an attack may also turn public opinion against gun ownership, especially since Norway is one of the few countries with liberal gun laws. However, it seems to me that even with stricter gun control this individual would have still carried out his crime. The way this was perpetrated suggests a high degree of planning. Strong gun control would have certainly made it more difficult for him to kill so many people, but it seems to me that he would have found a way.

If anything, all these killings should teach us that terror could come from anywhere and that intolerance, racism and xenophobia end up hurting those who hold such views almost as much as their targets. A concerted effort to deal with such attitudes is bound to bring better results and make communities safer than simply banning guns, though I concede that gun-control-make-believe is much easier to achieve than opening minds.

Sources / More info: bbc-oslo, edu-oslo

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting and please be assured that any and all comments are welcome, whether positive or negative, constructive or distructive.
We are using Disqus for commenting, but Blogger is not showing it so your comments may end up not being displayed - tell Google about it!