Terrorist attacks in Norway

Published: July 23, 2011

Some western commentators felt that it could be the much feared ‘next attack’ on Europe. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

One greatly sympathises with the peace-loving people of Norway for the tragedy that took place on July 22 — two almost simultaneous attacks on its capital Oslo and a nearby island. Almost unbelievably, one Norwegian rightwing fanatic has shot and killed at least 80 people during a youth rally of the ruling Labour Party, while another seven were killed by a car bomb near the office of the prime minister in Oslo. Having said that, one is a bit relieved that no Muslim was involved in them. We also hope that this gratitude is not expressed too soon.

TV commentators in the West had to stop speculating about yet another adventure by al Qaeda because of the quick declaration by the Norwegian police that the man killing the youths on the island had been arrested, that he was a native Norwegian and that he had possible links with the righting extremists in the country. Norway has a very negligible element left over from the neo-Nazi group that showed muscle in the country some years ago. One cause for concern is that if the act of terrorism was the work of a deranged individual, similar to ultra-right American Timothy McVeigh, then who was behind the car bomb attack that has wrecked a whole sector of the capital city?

We hope that in the coming days, new facts are not revealed about possible connections to al Qaeda, which would mean increased focus on Pakistan. Norway has a Muslim community with a strong contribution from Pakistan, mainly from Gujrat, which the Norwegian ambassador in Pakistan has often praised as a most useful contributor to the richness of Norwegian culture.

Before the Norwegian police came out with facts, some western commentators felt that it could be the much feared ‘next attack’ on Europe, a continent that has been spared al Qaeda’s wrath now for some time. The reasons given were many: That Norway was a Nato member with troops stationed in Afghanistan and some involvement in the siege imposed on Libya; that some of the blasphemous Danish cartoons may have been reprinted in Norwegian newspapers as a part of the ‘freedom of speech’ debate; and that Norway should be made to get out of Afghanistan just as Spain was made to get out of Iraq after a bombing of trains in Madrid. Attempts by the media to link the killings to the country’s substantial Pakistani presence were proven wrong and underline the dangers of racial/ethnic profiling when dealing with cases of terror.

The car bomb did look suspiciously like an al Qaeda attack but it is more likely that the killer followed in the footsteps of McVeigh and placed the explosives-laden car in the city square before going to the youth rally with his arsenal of guns. The ‘lone wolf’ theory is more tenable because Scandinavia has been more or less free of terrorist attention, apart from Denmark, which was unsuccessfully targeted by al Qaeda from Pakistan and for which Pakistani American David Headley is under trial in the US after having made some confessions extremely embarrassing to the government in Islamabad.

Norway could very well call the attack its 9/11 because the last time it witnessed carnage of such a scale was during the Second World War. It has been more peaceful than Sweden, where a Turk tried unsuccesfully to explode a bomb in Stockholm in December 2010. In the scale of loss of life, Oslo has suffered less than Madrid (191 killed) did in 2004, but more than London (52 killed) did in 2005.

It has been only three months since Osama bin Laden’s death in Abbottabad and everyone in the world is looking to Pakistan to tackle the contagion of terrorism spreading to the rest of the world. With more than 35,000 lost to al Qaeda and its local affiliates, Pakistan deserves sympathy and help for which it must prove itself worthy by fighting its own war against terrorism.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Ahmed Morsy
    Jul 23, 2011 - 9:51PM

    Why should the word “Muslim” even be mentioned in this article?
    “one is a bit relieved that no Muslim was involved in them. We also hope that this gratitude is not expressed too soon.”
    Wow, you are an incredibly bigoted, Islamophobic person. .Recommend

  • gonzabel
    Jul 23, 2011 - 11:02PM

    Why would anybody express “relief” that the terrorist wasn’t a Muslim? Do you prefer Muslim terrorists over blonde Nazi terrorists? Does political correctness mean you feel safer showing your bigotry and rage toward a white male instead of a brown male? Give me a break.Recommend

  • uk muslim
    Jul 23, 2011 - 11:24PM

    @Ahmed Morsy
    have you studied major terrorist incidents in last 10 years.

    Recommend

  • fahad ullah dar
    Jul 24, 2011 - 11:39AM

    Mantra of Do More Do More

    I would like to comment on the last part of the editorial note.35000 dead,including 3500 officers and Jawans of security forces,68 billion US dollars revenue lost due to this war on terror ,140000 troops are stationed on afghan border their operational cost is extra,and still we have to prove it to the world that we desevre International help and support ? ? ?

    Recommend

  • SharifL
    Jul 24, 2011 - 12:33PM

    I remember my Norway visit a couple of years ago as a peaceful and friendly country. No, I do not think of only Oil. Fjords. and Pine trees. But above all, a sense of peace. With population of less than 3 million and no hassle, you feel people are happy to see each other. And now this. How sad that under this peaceful mentality, there are souls with so much hate and intolerance. But I am sure the number of such people is very small. I am also sure Norway will be able to get over the shock in the coming months and years.
    What we should know about Norway is that it is first European country to impose strict quotas for women. Norwegian boards, which were 9% female in 2003, were ordered to become 40% female within five years. Now it on top of the list of countries with women board members having reached the total of nearly 36%. Some say this forced transition has damaged the efficiency of the business, but I am sure with time this will change to positive results, because some women were promoted just to fulfill the quota requirements, which will not happen in future.
    In pakistan, we need to make laws to employ women to ensure their progress and dignity. Men will only change their attitudes when they face women with rights and a bank balance to share with the family. WE should opt for a lesser %, of say 15% for a start.

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  • Jul 24, 2011 - 9:34PM

    We shall disregard for this moment the incongruous remarks of Morsy and Gonalbai. (The name is suspiciously eastern) I have an interest in Norway: my son went here with a folk musician band; and i have written a report on Norway funding theatre classes and seen texts of interviews of Pakistanis who have returned from Norway and now live in Gujrat. About the latter, the returrnees took pride in having lived in Norway, but they have done little to connect with their old home. For instance we found that very few Norway-returned people opted for the Norwegian Cell-phone, altough they have lived there long enough.
    From what I know a bit about the country (Norway) some fright has been expressed in blogs in Norwegian newspapers that Pakistanis there have built palatial homes in contrast to as Norwegian frugal homes.
    . And there is another fright out there: in time to come 5 per cent of Pakistanis (they number no more than 40,000) will become a majority in that land. This fright is being funelled by a writer Lewis who is concerned with the rising population of Muslims across Europe and even the United States. Thi man thinks that Muslims breed faster while Norwegian (or Europeans, for that matter) give birth to only one or two in one genereation.. .
    That apart, the point is that hatred of others – evil militants or* *jihadis’ – (in case of some Muslim countries, like Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen_-as some call them, is not 100 per cent Muslim phenomenon, per se, and as recent carnage in Oslo would prove. There are other schemers, too.
    This new narrative states that outsiders across Europe and U. S.A. also hate us with same kind of ferocity, which hey tend to accuse us of.
    This is Norways’s 9/11, but we hope the gentle people of Norway would come out of this

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  • rehan
    Jul 25, 2011 - 12:59PM

    He(the killer)cites examples of injustice/rigid ideologies in Pakistan(whether he is right or wrong is besides the point)..and fears PAKISTANISATION of Europe/Norway. I now see further pressure on Pakistan to ‘ammend’ its ways so as to “STOP/PREVENT” people like this killer developing such hatred and causing harm to mainland Europe. But why then did he have to kill ‘native Norwegians’.. he could have bombed a mosque and killed/shot rampantly at a ‘Pakistani’ wedding/ceremony in Norway(with Ramadan/Eid just a few days away). Maybe my friend Nasir el Edroos could shed light on this.

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  • An
    Jul 25, 2011 - 7:36PM

    Killing is bad no matter who does it. Here this man, to ‘avoid Pakistaniazation’ of his country went on a rampage on native Norwegians – his heritage. Thank god he did not go into a Muslim neighborhood – can you imagine the ‘victimization’ that would create amongst muslims around the world. There would be instant parity. Yet another grouse the rest of the world would have to tend to.

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