July 25th, 2011
08:14 AM ET

Security brief – July 25, 2011

Compiled by Tim Lister

Breivik appears in closed court – actions "atrocious but necessary"; former Norwegian PM was target – report

Breivik manifesto rails against immigration, multi-culturalism, political establishment, draws on Unabomber

Europe's resurgent far-right and its impact

Afghanistan: trucking contracts siphon millions to Taliban

Libya: US struggles to free assets for rebels

Syria: decree allows new political parties; regime plays the sectarian card

US: the debt and defense spending

Breivik: "atrocious but necessary"

Quote: "If Islamic people do something bad, you think, ‘Oh, it’s Muslims.' But if a white Protestant does something bad, you just think he’s mad. That’s something we need to think about." Sigrid Skeie Tjensvoll, Norwegian citizen.

In his first comment via a lawyer since his arrest, Anders Behring Breivik, 32, said he wanted to explain himself at a court hearing today about extending his custody.

"He has said that he believed the actions were atrocious, but that in his head they were necessary," Geir Lippestad said. The lawyer said Breivik had admitted to Friday's shootings at a Labor party youth camp and the bombing that killed seven people in Oslo's government district a few hours earlier.

The gunman was arrested an estimated 90 minutes after the massacre began. Police say he still had a lot of ammunition, and hospital sources said he had used dum-dum bullets, designed to disintegrate inside the body and cause maximum internal damage.

However, "he feels that what he has done does not deserve punishment," Lippestad told NRK public television. He said that Breivik has requested to appear in a uniform during the hearing, but didn't know what kind.

Acted alone? So far no evidence to the contrary

From the FT: "He might be involved with like-minded people, but it seems like he was operating completely alone," said Tore Bjørgo, a professor and far-right extremism expert at the Norwegian Police University College. "He seems to be an adherent to the "leaderless resistance" doctrine, and that makes things like this very difficult to detect."

Arrest in Poland?

The Oslo tabloid Dagbladet is reporting that police in the Polish city of Wroclaw arrested a man on Sunday, acting on information from the Oslo police.

The man is suspected of having had some participation in the bombing of the government buildings in central Oslo. Polish media report that the man runs a firm dealing in chemical products.

Max sentence: 21 years?

Under Norwegian law, he faces a maximum of 21 years in prison if found guilty of what Jens Stoltenberg, prime minister, called Norway’s "national tragedy". The maximum jail term in Norway is 21 years, although that can be extended if there is a risk of repeat offenses. "In theory he can be in jail for the rest of his life," said Staale Eskeland, professor of criminal law at the University of Oslo.

Former Norwegian PM was target on island

The man who bombed Norway's capital and gunned down Labor Party youths on an island, killing at least 93, told police he intended to target former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, Oslo newspaper Aftenposten said.

Brundtland, who led three Labour Party governments in the 1980s and 1990s and is often called "mother of the nation", gave a speech on the island the day of the slaughter and left before Anders Behring Breivik arrived.

"Anders Behring Breivik had plans to come to Utoeya (island) while Gro Harlem Brundtland was visiting on Friday, but claims under interrogation that he was delayed," Aftenposten reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources.

Breivik's Manifesto

"The order is to serve as an armed Indigenous Rights Organization and as a Crusader Movement (anti-Jihad movement)," he writes in the document, chunks of which are cut and pasted from other far-right, anti-Islam documents on the Internet.

Breivik says he is not against immigrants who integrate and reserves a lot of his fury for a liberal European political establishment he views as promoting Europe's destruction.

He hints at a wider conspiracy in the document, saying that the Knights Templar, a medieval order of crusading warrior monks, had been reconstituted in London in 2002.

Breivik attacks the "Islamic colonization and Islamization of Western Europe" and the "rise of cultural Marxism multi-culturalism".

Parts of the document use the same wording as the 35,000-word anti-technology manifesto written by "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski and published in the Washington Post in 1995.

In one passage, the document published online last week uses the same wording as the Unabomber's manifesto, but substitutes the phrase "cultural Marxist" where Kaczynski used the word "leftist," and uses the word "Muslims" where Kaczynski used the phrase "black people."

Dr Magnus Ranstorp, Research Director at the Swedish National Defence College, writes:

"In many ways, globalization and scores of other interlocking conditions created the "perfect right-wing extremist monster." The role of Internet; the role of role-playing games like World of Warcraft; extremist websites propagating the theory of Euroabia – the colonization and Islamization of Europe – all coalesce, blend into and roll-into-one cut-and-paste conspiratorial outlook that explain how Breivik viewed the world, how he defined his enemies, the fantasy world he sought to re-create in the real world and his narcissistic view of his role in his own actions, the "resistance struggle" and legacy he would leave behind."

The online radicalization of the far-right

Thomas Hylland Eriksen is an anthropologist at the department of social anthropology, University of Oslo. He writes in the Guardian:

There is a reason why the Norwegian police have not been overly concerned with rightwing extremism in recent years. It is plainly not very visible. An estimated 40 Norwegians currently belong to self-proclaimed extreme rightwing groups.

However, anyone familiar with the darker waters of the blogosphere would for years have been aware of the existence of a vibrant cyberscene characterized by unmitigated hatred of the new Europe, aggressive denunciations of the "corrupted, multiculturalist power elites" and pejorative generalizations about immigrants, targeting Muslims in particular.

Contributors to these websites, blogs and chat groups cannot merely be labeled "rightwing". One member of the Norwegian "Forum Against Islamisation" was also a member of the Socialist Left party. Others see themselves as the true heirs of social democratic values, or as the last carriers of the torch of the Enlightenment. Many talk about gender equality, some about social injustices and class. Others hold more conventional rightwing views, ranging from downright racism to paranoid conspiracy theories about Muslims plotting to take political control of western Europe. Some are online daily; others drop in once a month. They constitute loose networks and cannot easily be counted.

Resurgent far-right in Europe

"While the main terrorist threat to democratic societies around the world still comes from Islamist extremists, the horrific events in Norway are a reminder that white far-right extremism is also a major and possibly growing threat," said James Brandon, research head at London's Quilliam think-tank.

If the twin attacks in Norway fail to trigger an honest discussion of the issue, exposing often scare-mongering arguments used by the extreme right, this may marginalise the radical groups and worsen the situation, which in turn could bring more similar attacks in the future," said Lilit Gevorgyan, Europe analyst at the IHS Global Insight think-tank.

"This is not just an issue in Norway. Across Scandinavia and also in Western and Eastern Europe, you have a lot of people who are very frustrated by the lack of open debate," she added.

CNN's Tim Lister reports:

The far right in Europe has enjoyed a renaissance over the past 30 years, driven by resentment of the growing powers of the European Union and by rejection of the "multiculturalism" that has accompanied rapid immigration from the developing world.

Political parties opposing immigration and integration have done well in elections in recent years - and beyond them, neo-fascist and "national socialist" groups have become well-established across the continent, including in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Scandinavia, Hungary and the United Kingdom.

Most of those belonging to such groups would not contemplate the sort of carnage that occurred in Norway on Friday, but they would probably sympathize with what appears to have been the manifesto of the alleged assailant, Anders Behring Breivik.

The debate over "multiculturalism"

Reuters reports: British Prime Minister David Cameron, Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Nicolas Sarkozy have all declared in recent months that multiculturalism has failed, in speeches that were otherwise careful to highlight the contribution of immigrants.

But critics say such statements at best do little to offer solutions to tackle the economic and societal pressures that stem from increasing immigration and globalization, and do even less to harness the benefits of a multi-ethnic society.

At worst, they say such comments risk victimizing often vulnerable immigrant communities and souring race relations.

"What has clearly emerged from recent speeches and ensuing public national debates on multiculturalism is a sense of confusion, malaise and often contradictory messages," said Sara Silvestri, lecturer in religion and international politics at London's City University.

"So we look for easy answers presented as simple choices e.g., moderate vs. radical Islam, multiculturalism vs. assimilation ... Yet such simplistic naming and categorising further divides people and provokes animosities," she added.

The McVeigh comparison:

A clean-cut young man buys tons of fertilizer, which he uses to create a massive explosive. He puts it into a box truck, brings it into the middle of the city, and then sets off a massive, and deadly, explosion. This happened in 1995, when Timothy McVeigh unleashed terror in Oklahoma City. And it happened again Friday in Oslo, Norway, when police say a 32-year-old man carried out twin terror attacks in that Nordic nation.

Elsewhere: Afghan Taliban hang 8-year old

From CNN's David Ariosto:

An 8 year-old boy was hanged by militants in Afghanistan's Helmand province after the boy's father - a police officer in the southern city of Gereshk - refused to comply with militants' demands to provide them with a police vehicle, officials said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the hanging, saying "this action is not permitted in any culture or any religions," according to a statement Sunday, which provided details of the incident.

Karzai said he has ordered local authorities to root out the militants and arrest them "as soon as possible."

More on the NATO/Afghan Ops against the Haqqanis

At least 80 militants were killed in a series of operations involving Afghan and NATO forces during a day-long firefight last week in the country's restive southeast, Paktika provincial governor Mukhlas Afghan said Sunday.

NATO said it could only confirm 50 insurgents were killed in the fight.

The operation, which began Wednesday and spanned the night into Thursday, was fought in a "known Haqqani network" area.

The Haqqani network is an insurgent group loosely affiliated with the Taliban and is believed to be based in Pakistan's frontier territories.

The raid included Afghan special forces and engaged "multiple groups of insurgents" who were armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and heavy machine guns, NATO's International Security Assistance Force reported Friday.

Multiple insurgent groups were holed up in areas that included caves and fortified bunker positions, ISAF said.

US military investigation finds millions diverted to Taliban

Note: the results of this investigation echo those of a Congressional task-force last year.

A year-long military-led investigation has concluded that U.S. taxpayer money has been indirectly funneled to the Taliban under a $2.16 billion transportation contract that the United States has funded in part to promote Afghan businesses.

The unreleased investigation provides seemingly definitive evidence that corruption puts U.S. transportation money into enemy hands, a finding consistent with previous inquiries carried out by Congress, other federal agencies and the military. Yet U.S. and Afghan efforts to address the problem have been slow and ineffective, and all eight of the trucking firms involved in the work remain on U.S. payroll. In March, the Pentagon extended the contract for six months.

According to a summary of the investigation results, compiled in May and reviewed by The Washington Post, the military found "documented, credible evidence . . . of involvement in a criminal enterprise or support for the enemy" by four of the eight prime contractors.

Crocker: US not rushing for exit in Afghanistan

The new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan said Monday that the United States is not rushing to leave the country and cautioned that what happens in the months ahead will have far-reaching effects across the globe.

Speaking after being sworn in at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Crocker tried to allay Afghan fears about Obama's plan to bring 10,000 U.S. troops home by year's end, as many as 23,000 more by September 2012.

"We must proceed carefully," he said. "There will be no rush for the exits. The way we do this in the months ahead will have consequences far beyond Afghanistan and far in the future."

Pakistan: Karachi violence claims more than 40

Fresh political and ethnic violence gripped Pakistan's commercial capital over the past three days, leaving up to 44 people dead and taking the death toll for July to about 185, city police said on Monday.

Most of the weekend's casualties were reported in the city's eastern Malir, Landhi and adjoining areas - a multi-ethnic, lower middle class neighborhood.

Police said there was no clear reason for the latest bout of fighting. The city, home to more than 18 million people, has a long history of ethnic, religious and sectarian violence and local quarrels and political disputes can often explode into battles engulfing entire districts.

Libya: Tripoli, Zlitan targeted

On Sunday morning, other RAF jets successfully attacked two staging posts near Zlitan being used to muster tanks, rocket artillery and ammunition. An armed reconnaissance patrol located and destroyed a regime main battle tank near Gharyan, on the edge of the Djebel Nafousa, south of Tripoli.

Gadhafi's foreign minister, Abdelati Obeidi, left Cairo on Sunday after a three-day visit without making any comments.

"Obeidi met with a number of Egyptian officials and personalities to discuss the latest developments in Libya and ways to resolve the crisis in peaceful ways," a Libyan embassy official said without giving details. He was headed for Tunis.

Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said on Friday Libyan representatives were ready to hold more talks with the United States and the rebels, but Gadhafi would not quit.

U.S. struggles to free cash for rebels

From the Washington Post: Despite its decision to grant diplomatic recognition to Libya’s rebels, the Obama administration is struggling to find ways to provide them with the $34 billion in frozen Libyan assets held in U.S.-controlled bank accounts, officials say.

Administration officials held at least two meetings this past week to explore ways to release the money, which the opposition Transitional National Council says it urgently needs to pay salaries and buy critical supplies. But the funds are ensnared in a thicket of legal regulations.

So far, State and Treasury department officials have identified only a small fraction of the vast Libyan holdings — estimated by some officials to be as little as a few hundred million dollars — that can be quickly freed, according to current and former officials familiar with the talks.

Libyan war expected to subside for Ramadan

Next week, Libya will begin observing the holy month of Ramadan. The European leaders that galloped into this conflict, despite reservations from some of their senior military advisers, expected it to be over by now.

Two things have slowed it down for the rebels.

One is the lack of good weapons and ammunition, the other is that the rebels say NATO has demanded proper organization and accountability from the fighters on the ground before any agreement on minute-by-minute co-ordination.

NATO has said, with the support of the rebels, it will still bomb during Ramadan if it sees targets, though they will likely be more cautious to avoid civilian casualties.

As for the rebel fighters, Ramadan means progress is likely to grind to a halt. They expect many of their men will still want to fast throughout the day, even though the Koran says fighters are allowed a dispensation.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14247016

Yemen: another suicide bombing in Aden

A suicide attacker driving a pickup truck packed with explosives blew himself up outside an army camp in Yemen’s coastal city of Aden yesterday, killing at least eight soldiers and wounding dozens, security officials said.

The officials said the blast took place near the gate of the camp as a column of vehicles loaded with troops and supplies was preparing to leave for nearby Abyan province to take part in fighting against Al Qaeda-linked militants.

Among the dead were two senior officers, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Syria "allows opposition parties" – decree

The government has put forward plans to allow opposition groups to form political parties. The reform reverses a ban on rival political parties since the Ba'ath party took power in 1963, but there are stringent conditions.

Announcing the plan, the state news agency Sana, said the move was designed to "enrich and revitalise political life, share responsibility and alternate the possession of power".

The seven conditions to forming new parties include "preserving the unity of the homeland" and a ban on religious and provincial parties. Any new parties will also have to be approved by the existing government.

Yasser Saadeldine, an Syrian opposition figure living in exile in the Gulf, said the new law "is designed to show on paper that the regime tolerates dissent while continuing killings and repression".

"Every time the regime comes under international pressure it takes more false reform measures to try and appear as having democratic credentials. But arrests of activists continue and the crackdown deepens," Saadeldine said.

Assad appoints new governor to restive province

On Sunday, Assad replaced the governor of the eastern tribal province of Deir al-Zor, two days after the biggest protests demanding an end to Assad's rule in the oil producing region.

Hussein Arnos, a civilian, was transferred to govern the small province of Qunaitera west of Damascus, on the border with the Golan heights, the agency said, noting that he was replaced by Samir Othman al-Sheikh, an officer in the intelligence apparatus.

Syria plays the sectarian card

Far from disappearing, reports the New York Times, the old divisions of geography, class and, in particular, religious sect are deepening.

Syrians offer different explanations. Protesters blame the cynical manipulation of a government bent on divide and rule, and the government points to Islamist zealots seeking to impose a tyranny of the majority.

Which prevails — new loyalties born of revolution, or old rivalries entrenched in smaller identities — may decide the fate of Syria’s four-month revolt.

Colliding along the front lines of the uprising, and especially here in Homs, these forces suggest a grim reality of the revolt against President Assad: the longer his government remains in power, the less chance Syria has to avoid civil strife, sectarian cleansing and the kind of communal violence that killed at least two dozen people in Homs last week.

Bahrain frees ex-army officer

Bahrain has released a detained ex-army captain who joined pro-democracy protests that hit the Gulf island kingdom earlier this year, activists said on Monday.

Mohammed Buflasa, a Sunni Muslim who joined the protests led mostly by the country's Shi'ite majority, was arrested in February after he gave a speech at the Pearl Roundabout, the epicenter of the demonstrations until Bahrain's Sunni rulers crushed them in March.

Buflasa returned home late on Sunday, and waved from the roof of his home to clapping crowds chanting his name, You Tube videos showed. Some of those present at the celebrations told Reuters the gathering had both Sunnis and Shi'ites present.

Somalia: Shabaab back-tracks on pledge; millions at risk

From the Daily Telegraph: The international effort to bring humanitarian relief to 3.7 million Somalis who need urgent help to beat drought and famine is being hampered by al-Shabaab's refusal to let most agencies into their territory.

The al-Qaeda-inspired insurgents backtracked on an earlier promise to allow access. But the United Nations said it was planning to fly food into areas held by the Islamists despite the ban.

"There are 2.2 million people yet to be reached," said Josette Sheeran, the head of the agency.

The debt and defense

In an opinion piece today for POLITICO, GOP Reps. J. Randy Forbes, Michael Turner, Rob Bishop and Mike Conaway say, "Defense spending is not what put us in this position, and gutting the defense budget to pay the bills is unlikely to get us out of it. As a percentage of our gross domestic product, the defense budget remains just 3.6 percent. This figure is low by all historical standards. Even if we start slashing major portions of the budget - say $50 billion each year over the next decade - that figure would still only add up to a fraction of the nation's debt. Yet the additional risk to the nation could be substantial."

In its March baseline, the CBO assumes $1.67 trillion in war funding through 2021; since the administration forecasts only $630 billion, budget writers can credit themselves with more than $1 trillion in added savings. The administration's "grand bargain" rests in part on that amount, but Republicans insist it not be counted, saying it is illusory.

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