It's telling about our time that the description of the Norwegian terror suspect made a point of identifying him as blond and blue-eyed. A bombing in downtown Oslo and the massacre of at least 91 people, including children attending a summer camp immediately set off speculation about Middle East terrorists. But the arrest of a suspect sooned turned eyes toward Norway, home to the Nobel Peace Prize.
Bombs set off in downtown Oslo claimed seven lives, a toll deemed low because so many are on summer vacation. A horrific attack on a summer camp run by the Norwegian Labor Party on an island near the Norwegian capital cost another 80 lives, mostly children.
The Financial Times reported the false assumptions and the harsh reality.
The assumption was that Norway, a member of Nato, was being punished for its role in the US-led military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan or the ongoing operation against Col Gaddafi’s regime in Libya.However, as the evening unfolded, doubts started to emerge. Police revealed that the 32-year-old man arrested in connection with the attacks was not only a Norwegian citizen but also Norwegian born. Officials described him as blond and “ethnically Norwegian”.
This opened the possibility of homegrown extremism with no connection to radical Islam. "Much now indicates that this is a person with military training, and who is possibly connected with a neo-Nazi environment here at home [Norway]," said Cecilie Hellestveit, a Middle East expert at the International Law and Policy Institute in Oslo. In its most recent threat assessment, Norway's security service said "national extremism" would "not pose a serious threat to Norwegian society in 2011."
However, it added: "We have seen an increase in the level of activity within some of these groups during 2010, and some factors may increase this further."
As one expert sadly put it as the facts became known, this event was more Norway's Oklahoma City than its 9/11. That will give scant releif to people of African and Middle Eastern origin who become automatic suspects when an atrocity occurs.
In other news: Obama: We Have Run Out of Time.