Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

The Jihadist Roots of the Norway Massacre

April 26, 2012 10:53 am 0 comments

Anders Breivik. Photo: http://kenanmalik.wordpress.com.

Anders Breivik, who went on a shooting spree in Norway last year, killing some 70 people, recently confessed his inspiration: al-Qaeda, the jihadists par excellence of the modern world.

According to AFP, “The gunman behind the Norway massacres said he was inspired by al-Qaida as he took the stand Tuesday [4/17] at his trial…. he described himself as a ‘militant nationalist’ and, using the pronoun ‘we’ to suggest he was part of a larger group, added: ‘We have drawn from al-Qaida and militant Islamists. You can see al-Qaida as the most successful militant group in the world.'”

Not only was he “inspired” by al-Qaeda, but his very tactics mirrored those of the jihadist organization. According to the AP, Breivik testified “that he had planned to capture and decapitate” the former Norwegian Prime Minister, with the plan “to film the beheading and post the video on the Internet,” adding that “he was inspired by al-Qaida’s use of decapitation,” which he described “as a very powerful psychological weapon.”

In a globalized world where Islam has the lion’s share of acts of terrorism—where nonstop images of jihadists killing and beheading people have metastasized in the media, and thus in the mind of the average person—discovering that al-Qaeda is Breivik’s source of inspiration is, of course, not surprising.

But there is a more profound point here: Breivik is not the first non-Muslim to be “inspired” by Muslim notions; the Crusaders, for example, lived in an atmosphere thoroughly permeated and influenced by Islamic jihad, so much so that the very idea of Christian “holy war”—the use of violence and conquest in the name of Christianity—finds its ideological origins in jihad.

Emmet Scott, for instance, author of the new book Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited writes:

In addition to some commentaries upon Aristotle, and a few scientific and technological concepts (which were not “Arab” inventions at all) Islam was to communicate to Europe a whole host of ideas and attitudes that were far from being enlightened. Most obviously, the concept of “holy war” [or jihad], which Europe adopted (admittedly somewhat reluctantly) in the eleventh century, was entirely an Islamic innovation (p. xx).

Earlier, historian Bernard Lewis wrote,

Even the Christian crusade, often compared with the Muslim jihad, was itself a delayed and limited response to the jihad and in part also an imitation…. Forgiveness for sins to those who fought in defence of the holy Church of God and the Christian religion and polity, and eternal life for those fighting the infidel: these ideas … clearly reflect the Muslim notion of jihad, and are precursors of the Western Christian Crusade.

For all that, Islamic ideologies did not pervert the foundations of Christianity. Lewis continues:

But unlike the jihad, it [the Crusade] was concerned primarily with the defense or reconquest of threatened or lost Christian territory…. The Muslim jihad, in contrast, was perceived as unlimited, as a religious obligation that would continue until all the world had either adopted the Muslim faith or submitted to Muslim rule…. The object of jihad is to bring the whole world under Islamic law.

The point here is that the earliest manifestations of the sort of terrorism initiated by Breivik are Islamic in origin. For instance, the medieval Hashashin—the archetypal terrorists who gave us the word “assassin”—were a Muslim sect that pioneered the use of fear, murder, and terror for political gain as early as the 11th century.

Even so, the media has inclined to focus on Breivik’s fascination with Christian historical groups like the Knights Templar—without bothering to explain exactly how a military order devoted to protecting Christian pilgrims inspired Breivik to murder innocent Norwegian children. As one historian put it, the original Knights Templar, a “very devout people,” would be “horrified” to be associated with Breivik.

Even more ironic, the Knights and Crusaders in general were frequently on the receiving end of the aforementioned Hashashin’s terror campaign; that is, far from being inspirations for terrorism, the Knights Templar bore the brunt of one of the earliest manifestations of Islamic terrorism. Even CNN’s Fareed Zakaria correctly opined that in Breivik’s distorted worldview, “the Knights Templar resembles nothing so much as al Qaeda.”

In short, whereas Breivik’s goals may have been anti-Islamic in nature, his actions, those things which we are rightly judged by—in this case, from ruthless terrorism to planned beheadings—were jihadist in essence.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

The Algemeiner newspaper delivers breaking news and insightful commentary from Israel, the Middle East and Jewish communities around the world | Host to an international Jewish interest blogger community covering Zionism, Israeli politics, Middle East security, terrorism, Jewish tradition, Jewish art, Jewish culture, Jewish music, Jewish activism, Jewish family and spirituality, interviews, profiles, features, video and much more. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas will wear a leotard bearing Hebrew lettering when she competes at the P&G Gymnastics Championships over the weekend. Douglas’ Swarovski-outlined outfit will feature the Hebrew word “Elohim,” meaning God, on its left sleeve. The Hebrew detailing honors the athlete’s “rich heritage of faith,” according to apparel manufacturer GK Elite, which produced the leotard and released a preview of it on Wednesday. The company said Douglas’ sister, Joyelle “Joy” Douglas, created the Hebrew design. The outcome of the P&G Championships will help […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    Britain’s world heavyweight champion, Taylor Fury, should be banned from boxing for making Nazi-like comments, a former world champion from the Ukraine said on Thursday, ahead of their upcoming match. “I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and when he got to the Jewish people, he sounded like Hitler,” Wladimir Klitschko told British media, according to Reuters. “We cannot have a champion like that. Either he needs to be shut up or shut down in the ring, or […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Hanoch Hecht just made television history; but, unfortunately, he couldn’t have his rugelach and eat it too. Hecht became the first rabbi to compete on the hit show “Chopped,” where contestants are forced to use four random ingredients in their recipes, and have 20-30 minutes to create an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. A contestant is eliminated after each round. Hecht, 32, said that while the dishes and utensils were new, the kitchen was not kosher, so he couldn’t taste […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox singer and entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer is starring in a new Pepsi Max commercial for the company’s campaign in Israel. The commercial begins with a bunch of Jewish men eating at a restaurant, when Schmeltzer walks in and tries to decide what to order. An employee at the obviously Israeli eatery offers him a variety of foods, but the entertainer in the end decides on a bottle of Pepsi. Everyone in the restaurant then joins him, drinking Pepsi Max and dancing to […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Book Reviews Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    JNS.org – “Writing is a messy process,” says author Elizabeth Poliner. “People who don’t write fiction would be surprised to see what early drafts could look like.” But readers wouldn’t know “what a mess it was for the longest time,” as the Jewish author puts it, when reading Poliner’s critically acclaimed latest book, As Close to Us as Breathing. The volume garnered Amazon’s “Best Book” designation in March 2016 as well as rave reviews from the New York Times,W Magazine, NPR, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Sundance Tour Features Short Film About Elderly Jewish Woman’s Decision to Eat Bacon for First Time

    Sundance Tour Features Short Film About Elderly Jewish Woman’s Decision to Eat Bacon for First Time

    The Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour, which started on Friday in New York City, features a mini-documentary about an elderly Jewish woman whose journey away from Orthodoxy leads her to taste forbidden food for the first time in her life. In Canadian director Sol Friedman’s Bacon & God’s Wrath, Razie Brownstone talks about ending her lifelong observance of keeping kosher as her 90th birthday approaches. The recently declared atheist said the discovery of the search engine Google spurred a lapse in her Jewish faith and made her decide to […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Food Chabad Rabbi From New York Competes on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Cooking Competition

    Chabad Rabbi From New York Competes on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Cooking Competition

    A Chabad rabbi from Rhinebeck, NY, will face off a priest, a pastor and a nun-in-training in an upcoming episode of the Food Network‘s reality show, “Chopped,” Lubavitch.com reported. Rabbi Hanoch Hecht – who teaches up-and-coming chefs about the intricacies of kosher dietary laws at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) — was nominated for the show by a professional chef, and went through a rigorous interview process at the Food Network’s studios in Chelsea, NY. Months later, he was informed he had been accepted as a contestant in the popular TV cooking competition. “I thought […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief (BOOK REVIEW)

    Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief (BOOK REVIEW)

    Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief by Asaf Romirowsky & Alexander H. Joffe (Palgrave Macmillan; 2013) Although this book came out several years ago, it remains pertinent. This is a meticulously researched book that concentrates on a very small bit of history: the time period from 1948-50 when the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group, was organizing refugee relief in Gaza. Before UNRWA, the UN created the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees (UNRPR). It outsourced […]

    Read more →