Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Lone Wolf Terrorist - A Study by Asne Seierstad

"One of Us" The Story of a Massacre in Norway - And Its Aftermath

How can anyone bring themselves to massacre innocent people?  Even children?  At one time, only
nation states could be accused of such atrocities when aerial bombing was introduced during the Spanish Civil War back in 1936.  The dropping of bombs by the crews of those planes was validated by their governments.  The pilot, his navigator and gunners were simply an extension of those institutions not unlike the appendage of a body.  For example, my arm cannot be made responsible for hitting my neighbour and so the soldier in war for killing the enemy.  He is simply following orders. 

The lone wolf terrorist who kills innocent people does not have an internationally recognized body to take responsibility for his actions.  He must rationalize them himself? Recently, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhleal, a 31 year-old Tunisian drove a truck through a crowd watching fireworks in Nice killing 84 and injuring 303, 52 critically.  Probably because ISIS had no forewarning of his actions, they took two days to claim responsibility for the attack.  That’s because Mr. Lahouaiej-Bouhleal only
recently been radicalized as claimed by a number of Western intelligence agencies. Only a few days ago,
Ali David Sonboly went on a “lone-wolf” rampage killing nine people in Munich.  Anders Breivik may have been his inspiration.    

So, why would these men commit such horrific acts?  Except for the remote possibility they are psychopath, killing innocent individuals would have been hard.  He would have been acting contrary to a biological repugnance for killing others.  Unfortunately, we’ll never know because Mr. Lahouaiej-Bouhleal was killed by police and Ali David Sonboly killed himself. 

On July 22, 2011, Anders Rehring Breivik detonated a bomb inside the van he had parked in front of the Norwegian Prime Minister’s office killing eight.  He then proceeded to Utoyo Island where he assassinated 69 young people participating in the Workers’ Youth League (AUF) summer camp. The police ignored eye witness reports of a white man leaving the area where the initial attack on the Prime Ministers’ Office had been made.  No road blocks were set up nor was a description of the assailant made available to police officers in the Oslo area.  Those police hearing shots from the mainland waited for a tactical team to arrive from Oslo rather than go out to the island themselves.

An hour and a half later, when police did arrive, Anders surrendered without firing a shot.  After arriving and killing the only adult in charge and the guard, Anders called the young people to an emergency meeting at the central cafĂ©.  When they had duly assembled, he systematically shot them, many in the back of the head as they ran for cover.  Then, he pursued them down lovers’ path along the outside of the island where he continued to execute the young people many cowering on the ground.  When the tactical team finally arrived, Anders surrendered without a shot. 

“Newsweek” magazine hired the author, Asne Seierstad, to attend the ensuing trial.  The resulting book provides an incredible insight into the mind of a lone-wolf terrorist.  We learn about Anders’ a relationship with his mother, Wenche, that alternated between unhealthy intimacy and outright rejection.  Ms. Seierstad also describes an overly dependent relationship Wench had with her mother.  Anders had little contact with his father and what little he did have was eventually cut off by the man. 

Simon Saebo & Ander Kristiansen
The lives of young people killed by Anders, have also been documented. Simon Saebo was the son of Gunnar and Tone who met in high school and basically devoted their lives to each other and their family.  Bano Rashid was the daughter of Kurd parents, Bano and Mustafa, who, along with her sister Lara, were refugees from Iraq. The family began their lives in Norway housed in ghetto like conditions.  Nevertheless, Bano wants to become a full-fledged member in her new country.  As a teenager, she works part-time and uses a good portion of that hard earned money to purchase an expensive bunad, the national costume worn by women to celebrate their national holidays.  At times, I wondered about the number of pages Ms. Seierstad devotes to describing the lives of the victims however, in the end, I believe I had at an adequate perspective as to the scope of the tragedy. 
Bano Rahsid

So, how does a lone-wolf terrorist massacre dozens of innocent people.  First, the perpetrator must be searching for meaning to his existence.  Anders seemed confused about his sexuality as well as his place amongst his peers.  He wanted to be a leader without possessing the qualities that make others want to follow.  He wanted respect without respecting himself.  He wanted an identity without having to earn one.  At first, he thought he’d find it selling university degrees on line.  Of course, these weren’t legitimate so when it seemed likely that he would be arrested or at least have his name published as being part of such an enterprise, he feared humiliation and so, quit.  He then sought escape in the world of video games such as “World of Warcraft.”  

Then, Norwegian nationalism became his obsession.  He even wrote a book that he was certain was going to make him famous.  He viewed immigrants as the enemy of Norwegian identity and the natural scapegoat for all that he saw had grown worse in his country.  He believed that if Moslems
from the Middle East were allowed to continue to immigrate into his country, they would eventually outnumber those he considered the legitimate inhabitants.  For this reason, he believed he had the moral authority to kill members of the Labour Party of Norway for allowing refugees such as Bano to immigrate to his country.  As the future leaders of that party, the youth wing of that party were also considered one of the enemy.  

For the death of so many, he has never shown the least remorse. “One of Us” is truly a definitive exploration into the psyche of a madman turned terrorist.