Terrorism’s unclear face

by INFIDEL on September 24, 2010

From The Copenhagen Post Online

Among all the reports about the nameless Copenhagen bomber’s identity and his motive, something that has been unexpectedly missing has been speculation that he might be a radical Islamist.

Given the proximity of the explosion to the anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington and the ever present shadow of the Jyllands-Posten Mohammed cartoons, the easiest conclusion for us all to leap to would have been that he was a Muslim bogeyman.

However, the media, otherwise eager to report expert opinion and rumour as fact, has been refreshingly silent about his possible ethnic origin outside of factual descriptions of his complexion and language ability. The closest we have come to an insinuation about his ideological motivations was an unnamed source cited in the tabloid Ekstra Bladet, who stated that the suspect was carrying a map with the address of the Jyllands-Posten headquarters in Århus highlighted.

This is welcome, if not difficult to explain. Cynics might call it political correctness, others a fear of playing into the radicals’ hands, while still others might be keeping an open mind about the suspect’s motives.

Whatever the reason, it shows that while the 9/11 attacks have made terrorism synonymous with Islam in many people’s minds, the press in this case may be mindful of the fact that terrorism, particularly in Europe, is not a tool that is unique to al-Qaeda.

Ask someone from the EU to name European cities touched by terrorism, and London and Madrid will most probably be the first mentioned. But many will be just as quick to name the countless cities affected by the bombs and bullets of the IRA, ETA, Rote Armee Fraktion, Fronte di Liberazione Naziunale di a Corsica, or even Denmark’s own Blekingegade Gang.

Many of those organizations admittedly had their heyday in the 1970s, but even with their decline, ‘Islamist’ terrorism remains the exception rather than the rule. The recent Europol report ‘EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report TE-SAT’ found that between 2007 and 2009, there were 1,359 terrorist attacks in the EU carried out by separatists and 104 attacks carried out by leftists – accounting for 91 percent of all terrorist attacks on European soil. The same Europol report listed four Islamist attacks in Europe, or a quarter of one percent of all attacks.

In the US, where domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh and the Unabomber were just as despised as Osama bin Laden is today, the trend is similar, according to FBI statistics.

It may well turn out that the bomber is a radical Muslim after all. But until we know his identity, what he was planning or why, he remains just a criminal. In our fear, the easiest thing to do would be to stereotype him as an Islamist. That we haven’t done so gives a glimmer of hope that nine years of scaremongering on both sides might just possibly have been in vain.

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