Too Close to Home

For many people, living with the constant threat that you can be blown into tiny pieces any minute is an everyday thing. A search on Wikipedia shows a timeline of bombs that has exploded around the world so far in 2010 and should give you an idea of what it’s like to live in certain places1. Lucky for me, most of the incidents are far, far away from where I’m living; in cold (not today), innocent and naive Norway.

But on Thursday last week, terrorism came a little too close to home.

Early morning on July 8, the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) arrested three men in coordinated operations in Norway and Germany. All three were charged with planning a terrorist attack. Just after the arrests the available information was very limited, but in the following days, more information has been released by the PST to the press. It turns out that the three arrested men were planning to use the same type of bombs that detonated in the July 7, 2005 London bombings, the attack - or attacks - was planned to be carried out on Norwegian soil, and the operation was quickly linked to Al-Qaeda.

Even though the planning of an Al-Qaeda sponsored terrorist attack in Norway shouldn’t really take anyone by surprise - Norway is an active party in the war in Afghanistan and many Norwegian newspapers are printing drawings of the prophet Muhammad as often as they can2 - this scores rather high on the WTF-O-Meter. It’s just surreal.

Even though no exact location of the planned bombings has been revealed, it doesn’t take much to figure out that if you want your attack to be the most efficient, you hit where it hurts the most - in the city with the most people (Oslo), when there are most people there (rush hour) and where there are most people crammed together (public transportation). Personally, I don’t use public transportation much, at least not during summer and not very often during rush hour. But I know a lot of people who do and considering the size of Oslo, there is a good chance I’ll know someone who will be affected in some way by a bomb going off. Man, that’s even more surreal. Now imagine the bus, tram, train or subway you ride the most blown up. Fuck.

One of the main goals of a terrorist attack is to destabilize an otherwise relatively stable community and they are doing that through fear. In a way they have - with good help from the media - achieved that only by planning the attack. I’m usually a too very rational guy, but now I might move a little around in the subway carriages now if people with too large backpacks show up, which is, when you think about it, a very irrational thing to do.

I feel a bit destabilized to be honest.

  1. Not all of the incidents in the article are bombs, but if you do a page search for the word “bomb”, you’ll see that there are quite a lot of them. ↩︎

  2. They are doing this quoting freedom of the press and freedom of speech, but my unqualified guess is that they are doing it for shock value as a final, desperate attempt to save their plummeting circulation numbers. ↩︎


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