I’m a native New Yorker, but for the past ten years I’ve lived in Notodden, a quiet, remote town of 12,000 souls in the mountains of Telemark. As I sit here typing, I can look out the window at the cross-country highway that connects Haugesund, five hours to the west on the North Sea, and Oslo, two hours to the east. There’s not much to speak of between here and Haugesund. Between here and Oslo, there are a couple of sizable towns.
The closest, half an hour away, is Kongsberg. It’s about twice the size of Notodden, but has the same safe, cozy feeling. Before COVID, when I felt like getting away but not too far away, I’d spend a night or two there; now that restrictions have finally been lifted, I was thinking of going there sometime this week. In the end, I decided on Oslo, even though the increasing levels of crime by Muslim youth gangs made that choice seem considerably more risky.
So it was that I avoided the bloodshed that took place on Wednesday evening, when a convert to Islam ran amok in Kongsberg with a bow and arrow, killing five and wounding four.
Reportedly, police were alerted to the fact that the man was walking the streets of Kongsberg shooting arrows at people. When they tracked him down, he shot arrows at them, causing them to retreat and allowing him to get away. All of the killings took place after this encounter.
It was the worst mass murder in Norway since July 22, 2011, when Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in the course of a few hours. Because he considered the Labor Party responsible for the ongoing Islamization of Norway, of which he mightily disapproved, he targeted members of the Labor government and of the party’s youth organization.
In the decade since, the Norwegian Left has repeatedly pointed to Breivik as proof that terrorism is at least as likely to be anti-Islamic as Islamic, and that there exist, in Norway and elsewhere, groups of Muslim-hating right-wingers who are at least as dangerous as jihadists themselves.
In 2014, a couple of officers for the PST (Norwegian Police Security Service), Norway’s equivalent of the NSA or MI5, asked to meet me at the Notodden police station, purportedly because they wanted to learn more about Islam. It turned out they wanted to learn more about me.
Why, they asked, was I so critical of Islam? Which other Muslim critics did I know? What far-right websites did I read? When I’d had enough of their questions, I asked my own: “Have you read the Koran?” They hadn’t. I told them they should, if they wanted to understand Islamic terrorists. “We know,” one of them replied, “that radical Muslims have misinterpreted the Koran.“ I countered that the Koran’s message is clear, and terrorists are doing exactly what their holy book tells them to.
There was much more — the conversation lasted about an hour and a half — but the bottom line was this: while they’d been fed a benign picture of Islam and regarded the overwhelming majority of Muslims as gentle people of faith, they couldn’t see an antipathy for Islam as anything but vile, baseless bigotry, and hence couldn’t be convinced that critics of Islam were anything other than potential mass murderers.
And nothing I said could ever change their minds.
The PST’s mentality seems not to have changed significantly since then. As the New York Times noted in its report on the bow-and-arrow killings, “The Norwegian authorities have expressed concern that not enough is being done to root out right-wing extremism, especially among young people.” Note well: in the lexicon of Norway’s political and cultural establishment, the words “right-wing extremism” mean pretty much the same thing as the Biden administration’s new term of art for Trump voters: “domestic terrorists.”
Note also that there’s no mention of Norwegian authorities expressing concern about Islamic extremism, even though Norway’s Muslim population is growing apace, as is the scale of street violence in Oslo by Muslim youth.
Which may help explain why the admitted perpetrator of the massacre in Kongsberg, Espen Andersen Bråthen, managed until now to evade PST notice despite years of warning signals. His Danish mother and Norwegian father, it turns out, reported him a number of times to the local cops, and secured a restraining order after he threatened his dad’s life. Over the last few years, moreover, several of his acquaintances have contacted the local police to warn them that Bråthen had become a radical Muslim.
As if that weren’t enough, Bråten posted several videos online that made it clear he was a catastrophe waiting to happen. In one of them, posted four years ago, he described himself as a “messenger.” He said that he was there to issue “a warning” and that “the time has come.” He closed by stating: “I am a Muslim.” Not terribly specific, but pretty damn disturbing.
Yet did PST ever request a meeting with him? Apparently not. In fact, at a press conference on Thursday, PST officials said they hadn’t seen his videos until earlier that day.
I guess they were too busy worrying about people like me.
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