Opinion

Commentary: Terrorism isn't limited to any group, religion or ideology

We didn't need the horrific tragedy in Norway as a reminder that evil lurks everywhere, or that it may appear in the visage that some might see as unlikely. Nor did we need it to remind us that violence or terrorism is no respecter of age or innocence, or that homegrown terrorists - wherever home is located - can be as savage and inhumane as those from foreign lands.

We know all that. Yet, the killings on Friday in peaceful Norway of at least 76 people, many of them children, put a sad but needed spotlight again on the realities of violence and terrorism. Violent extremism is not particular to any specific race or ethnic group; it is not embedded in the lifestyle or history of any specific people, religion or ideology.

Anyone can be a violent extremist. Anders Behring Breivik, accused of the fatal bombing of government buildings in Oslo and the killing of scores of young people on the nearby island of Utoya at a Labor Party camp, is an apt illustration.

But Norway killings have eery echoes in the U.S. Timothy McVeigh's bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995 took 168 lives and injured nearly 700 others. McVeigh, who hoped to inspire a revolt against the U.S. government, was executed in 2001.

Home-grown U.S. terrorist Eric Rudolph was captured in North Carolina in 2003. He was responsible for the Olympic Park bombings in Atlanta in 1996, and for a series of other bombings across the South between 1996 and 1998 where dozens of people were hurt. Two people died and more than 100 were hurt. He is serving four consecutive life sentences.

Then there was Ted Kaczynski, a former math professor who terrorized academics and others using letter bombs he sent from 1978 to 1995. Known as the "Unabomber," he was responsible for killing three people and injuring 23 others. He is serving life without parole.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.charlotteobserver.com.

  Comments