irst glance, the 1,500-page manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, the man accused of the terrorist attacks in Oslo, appears to be a fairly standard ideological treatise of the far right. The document, which Mr Breivik posted online on July 22 just hours before the attacks and which he titled 2083 A European Declaration of Independence, evokes several of the movements central themes and cites numerous right-wing ideologues.
On closer inspection, however, Mr Breiviks worldview does not fit squarely into any of the established categories of right-wing ideology, like white supremacism, ultranationalism or Christian fundamentalism. Rather, it reveals a new doctrine of civilisational war that represents the closest thing yet to a Christian version of Al-Qaeda.
For example, although Mr Breivik says he fears the extinction of the Nordic genotypes, racial hygiene is not high on his agenda. He wants to expel, not kill, Muslims in Europe, and he does not mind Jews and non-Muslim Asians. Similarly, while Mr Breivik says he is extremely proud of his Odinistic/Norse heritage, he is not a Norwegian nationalist his declaration of independence applies to all of Europe. And while he is Christian, he admits that Im not going to pretend Im a very religious person.
In his view, Muslims are colonising Europe, helped by high birth rates and a doctrine of multiculturalism advocated by the European elite.
Islam, for him, represents an existential threat to European civilisation, a threat that must be countered at all costs. The best way to do so, he argues, is to wage war against cultural Marxists his label for the European political and intellectual elite because they are the traitors who allow the colonisation to take place.
Much, though not all, of Mr Breiviks manifesto is inspired by a relatively new right-wing intellectual current often referred to as counter-jihad. The movements roots go back to the 1980s, but it gained substantial momentum only after 9/11. Its main home is the Internet, where blogs like Jihad Watch, Atlas Shrugs and Gates of Vienna publish essays by writers like Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Bat Yeor and Fjordman, the pseudonym for a Norwegian blogger. Mr Breiviks manifesto is replete with citations of counter-jihad writers, strongly suggesting that he was inspired by them.
Of course, by advocating the mass murder of European politicians, Mr Breivik goes much further than any counter-jihad ideologue has ever done, and his manifesto contains ideas and information that have no precedent in the counter-jihad literature. For example, he provides extensive advice on how to build bombs and plan terrorist attacks. The leading counter-jihad writers have virtually never advocated violence, and several of them have condemned Mr Breiviks actions.
He also claims to be a member of a knightly order called the European Military Order and Criminal Tribunal, which he describes as a reincarnation of the Knights Templar and which he says he founded in London in 2002 with activists from eight countries across Europe.
Indeed, the more belligerent part of Mr Breiviks ideology has less in common with counter-jihad than with its archenemy, Al-Qaeda. Both Mr Breivik and Al-Qaeda see themselves as engaged in a civilisational war between Islam and the West that extends back to the Crusades. Both fight on behalf of transnational entities: the ummah or community of all Muslims in the case of Al Qaeda, and Europe in the case of Mr Breivik. Both frame their struggle as defensive wars of survival. Both hate their respective governments for collaborating with the outside enemy. Both use the language of martyrdom (Mr Breivik calls his attack a martyrdom operation). Both call themselves knights, and espouse medieval ideals of chivalry. Both lament the erosion of patriarchy and the emancipation of women.
Of course, these similarities should not be taken to mean that Mr Breivik is inspired by or emulates Al-Qaeda. Rather, they suggest that Mr Breivik and Al-Qaeda are manifestations of the same generic ideological phenomenon: macro-nationalism, a variant of nationalism applied to clusters of nation-states held together by a notion of shared identity, like the West or the ummah.
Extreme macro-nationalists view their people as under attack and fight in their defence.
If a violent anti-Muslim movement does emerge in the West, we can expect it to be divided on the question of who its targets should be, just as jihadis have been. Some will prefer to punish the European elite for their treason, as Mr Breivik did. Others will attack Muslims directly, as did the sniper who killed and injured several immigrants in Malmo, Sweden, last year. Countering extreme macro-nationalists like Al-Qaeda and Anders Breivik is difficult because the causes they espouse often enjoy a certain popular support, even if their prescription mass murder is almost universally rejected. Just as Al-Qaeda exploited widespread Muslim opposition to American policies in the Middle East, so does Mr Breivik tap into a relatively large reservoir of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe.
We can only hope that Mr Breiviks actions will be seen as so horrific that they undermine his cause. One Qaeda is more than enough.
Thomas Hegghammer is a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment in Oslo and the co-author of Al-Qaeda in Its Own Words
International Herald Tribune