• 2011
  • War on terror -- the boomerang effect

War on terror -- the boomerang effect

Professor Tan Sri Dato' Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Learning Curve: Perspective
New Sunday Times - 31-07-2011

THE simpleton, former United States president George W. Bush, did not see it coming, but a decade later, he is hoisted by his own petard. The “war on terror”, which he hastily declared, is “boomeranging” back in small doses — the latest in the form of the recent massacre in Oslo, Norway.

While many assumed it was the handiwork of Muslim (Jihadist, Islamist, Fundamentalist — take your pick) terrorists — they were wrong.

This time, the mass killing was the product of a subculture that grew out of Bush’s anti-Muslim rhetoric in the infamous days of “weapon of mass destruction”.

It was revealed that the suspected killer Norwegian citizen Ander Behring Breivik, 32, was inspired by the hatred sown by Bush and his administration, which now translates into many self-proclaimed “counter-jihadist” groups spawned all over the US.

They are the invisible armies that Bush had built.

According to a former US Department of Homeland Security analyst, some of the groups such as the Hutaree, an extremist (fancy that the word “terrorist” is not used) Christian militia in Michigan, “had an arsenal of weapons larger than all the Muslim plotters charged in the US since the Sept 11 attacks combined” (New York Times, July 24).

Indeed, Breivik was said to be influenced by the writings on the websites and blogs of such groups.

He reportedly copied some passages from the so-called manifesto written by the Harvard educated American-born Unabomber (university-cum-airline bomber), except that the word “multiculturalists” was substituted where appropriate.

He apparently even foretold the attacks, the worst since World War II in Norway, in his version of the manifesto calling for a Christian war against the threat of Muslim domination: “The time for dialogue is over. We gave peace a chance. The time for armed resistance has come.” It is a familiar call preceding the invasion of Iraq.

The 1,500-page manifesto, believed to be Breivik’s work under an Anglicised name (Andrew Berwick), was posted on the web, hours before the attack on that fateful Friday.

In it, he claimed to be part of a small group which intended to “seize political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda”.

This seems to flow from his far-right Christian fundamentalist views obsessed with the threat of multiculturalism and migration issues which are blamed for destroying European Christian civilisation.

An independent news report wrote that Breivik’s lawyer said his client’s actions were “atrocious but that in his head they were necessary” — something that Bush must have subscribed to as well! More eerie is Breivik's manifesto entitled: 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence.

The year marks the 400th anniversary of the siege of Vienna in 1683 by Muslims and the triumph of Christian forces in Europe.

It is not surprising then that the document also describes a secret meeting in April 2002 in London to reconstitute the Knights Templar, a Crusader military order (International Herald Tribune, July 25).

The meeting was attended by several representatives from Europe, including a “European-American”.

I recall how Bush, in trying to impress on American allies of the need to attack their perceived enemies, used the word “crusade” before he was compelled to stop.

Such “us versus them” thinking was still prevalent as late as 2009, when the US Department of Homeland Security in the report, Right-Wing Extremism, suggested an African-American president might increase threat from white supremacists.

Though the statement was quickly withdrawn and the department apologised for “its flaws ”, the subconscious racist streak cannot be more obvious.

And so when Breivik described migrant population as “wild animals” and blamed multiculturalist traitors for allowing them “to enter our lands, and continue to facilitate them”, he is not alone in espousing such a worldwide view.

This attitude goes as far back as the days of the so-called Lawrence of Arabia, who said that natives, especially the blacks (“negroes”), with “(t)heir faces, being different from our own were tolerable; but it hurt that they should possess exact counterparts of all our bodies”.

What unfolded in Oslo was exactly the same sentiment and a result of ethnic and religious stereotypes that attempted to hide one’s weakness. It is a practice perfected as part of a construct that fits into the "war on terror".

And now it is “boomeranging” back!

* The writer is the Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia. He can be contacted at vc@usm.my