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Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Norway terrorist's manifesto

I just skimmed through a bit of the manifesto of the Norway terrorist Anders Breivik.

While the man is clearly a psychopath, the worst part is that it is not all crazy sounding - it is scary how sane much of the document seems to be.

He sets out a case against multiculturalism, Marxism and Islam that would not be out of place in many popular websites and blogs. In fact, he quotes a few of them.

He is not an anti-semite, but he despises left-wing Jews and multiculturalists.

But as the document goes on, he tries to come to  the logical conclusion that he must kill a lot of people to accomplish his political goals. He then goes to describe a number of scenarios on planning terrorist operations.

He has a FAQ-type section:
Q: Can significant indirect damage against civilians be justified?

A: Yes and no. It can be justified in the sense that it is the only pragmatical way to move forward. When someone blows up a government building it is obviously not with the intention to kill the cleaning lady or the janitor. The target has been selected after careful consideration because it will yield the wanted results.

There are extreme and moderate forces. We are all cultural conservatives even though we use different means. We have taken it upon ourselves to use brute, cynical force so other people don’t have to. The other political fronts should welcome it as a necessary evil in order to rid ourselves of a much greater evil.

Innocent people will die, in the thousands. But it is still better than the alternative; millions of dead Europeans, which is the worst case phase 3 scenario.
He even describes his planned attack as a "martyrdom operation," and says that the slogan for his (possibly fictional) group "The Knights Templar" is "Martyrdom before dhimmitude."
Being a Justiciar Knight is not for everyone. You are normally required to plan absolutely everything alone; fight alone to see your mission through and you are likely to die alone with half of your city’s system protectors hunting you. However, I have never in my life felt that I have done anything more meaningful than what I am doing now regardless of the lack of moral support from my founding brothers or other armed resistance fighters. Support from our extremely distributed and anonymous “non-hierarchy” out there would be nice but I have managed to cope through mental discipline to become what I am today; a self driven and highly effective manifestation of an independent resistance cell. I have managed to stay focused and highly motivated for a duration of more than 9 years now. I feel really happy about my current course. In fact, I have never been happier than I am today and I do not find it problematical hide my true ideological agenda from everyone else. To all I know I am a moderate right-winger and not a resistance fighter. It isn’t easy to reach this level of mental comfort and focus while at the same time working on something so important and serious. You have to overcome difficult initial psychological challenges and perform a slight subsequent mental check every single day until the operation is complete.

...Learning the ability/rituals to motivate yourself and being able to follow this ritual on a daily basis is perhaps the most essential aspect of our armed resistance effort in phase 1. One of the reasons why Muslims are so effective at guerrilla warfare is that they keep themselves motivated by praying five times a day and reciting motivational Suras from the Quran.

Chillingly, Breivik describes in a lot of detail all of the plans he made before this attack, and even streamlined it so that a single person could mount such an attack with only 30 days of preparation.

Ultimately, it is a sickening document, but it would be a lot easier to swallow if Breivik had penned a rambling mess. The problem is that is is not a psycho in the normal sense: he is a very intelligent person and some of his political analysis is actually on target. His writing shows nuance, not something one would expect from an extremist. He cuts down neo-Nazis nearly as much as he attacks those on the Left.


If there is any point in the work where he crosses the line from a political analyst to a budding terrorist, it might be where he sets out the Christian justification for a new Crusade. He writes that "Pope Urban II and Pope Innocent III granted indulgence to all future Crusaders (martyrs of the Church)" and that "Crusading is not just a right, but a duty according to Canon Law." Ironically, he uses Christianity in exactly the same way Muslims use Islam to justify terror, even using legal language - almost like a Christian version of a fatwa. Beyond that, he justifies his sins (such as visiting prostitutes) in order to keep his mood up for the upcoming attack, reasoning that the ends justify the means.

The open question is: did he cross the line into becoming a terrorist because of his religious beliefs, or would it have happened anyway? As the first quote above shows, he uses a utilitarian argument to justify killing many to save far more; but he later uses his Christian beliefs to more starkly justify his reasoning. The parallels of his Christian terror to Islamic terror are hard to miss - but on the other hand there is a tradition of secular Arab terrorism as well.

As far as I can tell, the media has been harping on his political beliefs more than on his religious beliefs. That may be a mistake. However, while it may be attractive to dismiss him as a religious nut, that may be oversimplifying the situation. The ultimate justification for the attack seems to be based on his perception of Christian theology, but he may have done it no matter what, and found justification for his evil anyway.

That's the part that is so frightening - the ability of someone who is not obviously insane to plan an act of such unimaginable evil.

Evil can spring from anywhere. It is not a right or left issue, it is not exclusive to any religion or belief. And it means that we must all be responsible for watching out when people do cross that line, and to stop them in time.