The Norwegian car bombing and almost simultaneous shooting had all the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda operation. As the first reports emerged, I suggested a wait and see approach.
With the initial claim of responsibility from a known al-Qaeda group, the narrative seemed set and not particularly surprising; this looked like the London bombings. As I noted after those reports, there had been widespread pre-existing warnings of Islamic radical violence in Norway including prior arrests.
But as more information is becoming known about the suspect, it is becoming just as likely that this was either a lone wolf or “Timothy McVeigh – style” operation. From the website News from Norway:
Justice Minister Knut Storberget confirmed that police were holding a suspect, charged with gunning down many members of the Labour Party’s youth organization AUF (Arbeidernes ungdomsfylking) who were attending their annual youth summer camp on an island in the Tyri Fjord.
Neither Storberget nor police, however, would reveal more details about the suspect. They would not identify him nor say whether he had a criminal record, although the website for newspaper VG identified him as Anders Behring Breivik, age 32, a self-described nationalist with no criminal record who was opposed to Islam and to a multi-cultural society. VG and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that police were raiding the suspect’s home in west Oslo Friday night.
I would even take these reports with a grain of salt. I regret not taking that grain of salt even after the initial reports of an al-Qaeda connection; sometimes news moves too fast for our own good.
I expect that by the time we wake tomorrow, the Norwegians will have more information on the suspect, the motives, and the connections.