Norway Latest Victim of Terrorism
A worldwide attack on democracy seems to be underway as new acts of terror have occurred; this time in Oslo, Norway. The twin attacks on Norway are horrendous and have caused an increase in concern for the safety of our democratic systems and those committed to upholding its free ideals.
The Norway attacks occurred July 22, 2011. The assailant targeted two areas in the quiet Norwegian town- beginning with the bombing of a government building and ending with a shooting rampage at a youth activist camp.
Police confirmed the attack in Oslo, Norway was executed via car bomb. Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim revealed, “A witness saw the vehicle standing for a long time outside the building.”
The explosion shook the area and seven people were killed as a result of the terrorist attack. Several buildings were damaged and accounts reveal that many of the windows of the building and surrounding structures were blown out, including Norwegian Labor Party Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s office.
Norwegian Red Cross Media Advisor Vivian Paulsen exclaimed, “I heard the big bang… I could see smoke coming up from the place and heard sirens and ambulances.” She was 20 minutes away from the explosion site.
Some are suggesting the car bomb was an attempt on Prime Minister Stoltenberg’s life. The Prime Minister was unharmed by the attack, as he was not in his office at the time; yet he is “intensely saddened” and proclaims this event marks the deadliest day in his country’s peacetime history.
As if this initial Norway attack wasn’t bad enough, the offender continued onto a youth camp on Utoya Island where an annual gathering was in progress. The meeting involved the Worker’s Youth League, which is the youth division of Norway’s Labor Party. The nature of the assembly suggests political ideology and anti-democratic sentiments were the assailant’s motivations.
The man was dressed in a blue sweater with a police emblem and Labor Party member Bjorn Jarle Roberg-Larsen reported, “People at the camp on northern Utoya Island said the man arrived on the boat that ferries most visitors across the ¾-mile of water from the mainland and told campers that he was carrying out a security check.”
The party member continued his recount of the event stating, “After just a few minutes, he took a handgun and started to shoot people. A panic broke out. People tried to hide; some jumped into the water and tried to swim ashore. Some took shelter in caves or bushes, others climbed trees and he went after them.”
CNN reported, “The vast majority of the Labor Party youth movement attendees were between the ages of 16 and 22, though some were as young as 13 and others as old as their early 30s. They had been planning to attend political training classes and participate in group activities during the day and sleep in tents at night.”
This massacre continued for a grueling hour and a half before the man surrendered. So far reports allege the gunman claimed 85 lives at this site; as of now the confirmed death toll of the two Norway attacks has reached 92.
The Associated Press reported a 32-year-old suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, has been taken into custody and charged with two counts of “dangerous crimes to society.”
The exact motivation of the Norway attacks remains unclear. Officials claim Breivik is “a right-winger with anti-Muslim views but no known links to hard-core extremists.”
Nonetheless his acts were still acts of terror and show the increasing trend in anti-democratic ideals. Even if this was the work of one lone radical, which remains unconfirmed at this time, it exhibits that no part of the free world is immune to this growing threat.
Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, proclaimed, “We meet terror and violence with more democracy and will continue to fight against intolerance.”
United States President Barack Obama extended his condolences regarding the Norway attacks and declared, “It’s a reminder that the entire international community holds a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring. We have to work cooperatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks.”
The recent terrorist attack on Norway is an eye-opening event, revealing far this threat has extended. The increasing number of individual radicals and terrorist organizations emerging with anti-democratic views are cause for global concern and raises many questions. How many more free nations will be affected? Will others join America’s war on terror? Will this growing global terror issue lead to a global war? Many questions have yet to find answers as Norway is the latest democracy to be attacked by terrorism.