One of the challenges in understanding Islamic terrorism is how foreign it seems to us Americans. Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik's manifesto is interesting in that it gives Westerners religious and culturally inspired terrorism "on our side," in plain English with familiar Christian and Western imagery. Breivik's actions and rhetoric seem extremist to sensible Westerners; jihadist literature must seem equally extremist to sensible people in the Islamic world.

Breivik's document is rational, well researched, coherent. At 1500 pages it rambles a bit, you can get a sense of the ground he's covering via the table of contents (Scribd, Pastebin). He writes a history of the conflict between Islam and Christianity, a detailed rejection of various European modern philosophy, a curated collection of essays about the "threat" of Islam spreading in Europe. And then a detailed, apparently accurate manual about how to become a one man killing machine complete with armor, weapons, bombs, pharmaceutical enhancements. Tragically, all this research actually worked for Breivik and he was able to murder 70+ defenseless people on summer holiday.

See the emblem on Breivik's germ warfare suit? That's the Knights Templar, a 13th century Crusader military group that Breivik latched on to for his 21st century holy war. It's a pretty florid bit of mythology. His manifesto is quite explicit about creating a modern crusade to defeat Islam: "Crusading is not just a right, but a duty according to Canon Law", Breivik says, and after quoting the Bible for several pages concludes
Each Christian must now make their own personal decision on all of this. You can either choose to learn how to rise up in the power of your Lord and Saviour and learn how to become a true warrior in the Lord, or you can continue to keep your head in the sand and oppressor after oppressor keep beating you down.

Breivik here sounds exactly like a violent jihadi. Later in his manifesto he addresses this criticism:

By propagating and defending Christendom we simply mean that we want to halt the cultural Marxist/multiculturalist attacks and systematic deconstruction on our Christian cultures and the Church itself and to reverse the de-Christianisation of Europe. ... Western Europe has grown weak and decadent and will be completely annihilated culturally unless we succeed to implement a second European renaissance and reverse the damage done.

Reading this screed helped me better understand the violent Muslim equivalent, the rhetoric around a new caliphate and the establishment of pure Islamic states governed by Sharia. Those Middle Eastern concepts sounded foreign to me but Breivik's similar ideas are comfortably English and Christian and European. And just as hideous.

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  2011-07-26 01:12 Z