When news broke on Friday of what appeared to be a terror attack in Norway, right-wing pundits in the U.S. were quick to point the finger at Islamic extremism, with some even publicly doubting that the killings could be motivated by right-wing views. Then when we finally learned that the terrorist was Anders Breivik, a blue-eyed, blond Norwegian apparently motivated by anti-Muslim nationalist views, the Islamophobes and alarmists on the right began contorting themselves to express support for his cause while dismissing his tactics.
Many of these pundits, walking back their early accusations of Islamic terror, fell back on the notion that “jihadists” were still a threat no matter whether or not the Norwegian attacker was one.
“It’s one of the first instances since Oklahoma City when terrorism on this scale was not Islamic,” said a former Bush administration official on Fox News. (At the time, conservatives also tried to blame the Oklahoma City bombing on Islamic terrorists.)
“There are many more jihadists than blond Norwegians out to kill Americans, and we should keep our eye on the systemic and far more potent threats that stem from an ideological war with the West,” wrote Washington Post neoconservative blogger Jennifer Rubin from an American perspective.
But according to Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, the Europeans — part of Jennifer Rubin’s “West,” to be sure — actually faced a minimal threat from Muslim extremist terror. Here’s a chart highlighting Europol’s numbers from 2009 and 2010:
So out of 543 failed, foiled or successfully carried out terror plots in Europe in 2009 and 2010, only five — less than one percent — were related to Islamic extremism. (HT: Dan Gardner)
ThinkProgress intern Sarah Bufkin contributed to this post.