Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Norway shooting suspect profile



He has been called a terrorist, and his extreme right-wing views and choice of target suggest this, but Anders Behring Breivik shows equal signs of a narcissistic mass murderer. By his own account, and police theory, he acted alone, and authorities have strong doubts about his alleged ties to and boasts about a network of right-wing anti-Muslim groups in Norway.
Terrorism is defined as ideologically motivated violence, and by this definition, Breivik's attacks would be classified as terrorism. He chose a Labour Party (the liberal faction of Norway's political system) camp and a government building as his targets, in an aim to, as described in his online manifesto, eliminate European multiculturalism. A former classmate said that Breivik had a tendency to get "extreme" when he believed in something, but still expressed surprise over the attacks. Like many violent criminals, Breivik appears to have had an unstable family life, if his estranged relationship with his father (who said in an interview that he had not spoken to his son since 1995) is any indication. The reason for the estrangement was not given. In the small farming town where he lived, although he was perceived as a "loner," he stood out for his "urban" dress and mannerisms. While living in a small town could be perceived as an attempt to fly under the radar (something residents of Rena say is "easy to do" there), he still felt the need to draw attention to himself, to not blend in.
By definition, being a terrorist, particularly one who acts alone, requires a certain amount of bravado not found in most people. The perpetrator believes that his actions will bring about revolution, as Breivik claimed in his manifesto, which he called a "declaration of independence" for Europe from the recent tide of Muslim immigrants. The manifesto heavily quotes the Unabomber, and includes the line "It is better to kill too many than not enough." Exactly what would constitute "too many" or "not enough" isn't clarified; Breivik just wanted to reign destruction, as much as he could, in what he saw as the first act in a revolution. Breivik's attorney said in an interview that his client took pride in his actions. Unlike serial killers, who murder in the shadows to fulfill an urge and take pains to conceal their tracks, terrorists want the world to see their crimes, and they want full recognition. Unlike mass murderers, who have reached their boiling point and feel the need to unleash their rage on a world they think has wronged them, a terrorist's rage is focused on a specific cause, like ethnic integration.
Terrorists and mass murderers have one thing in common: they often end their attacks by either taking their own lives or being shot by law enforcement (suicide by cop). Mass murderers do this because they're depressed and wanted to murder as many others as possible before their planned suicide; terrorists do it in pursuit of martyrdom to a cause. There was no way Osama Bin Laden would have been taken alive, not with the promise of being a martyr, and definitely not by his sworn enemy, the United States. Breivik is unique in that he is still alive after his rampage. Although he left behind a lengthy manifesto of his beliefs and plans, it's possible he wanted to address the nation devastated by his violence, to find yet another platform for his message in his trial.