The news of today's Norway bombing is still developing and already the Telegraph has started the blame game. The target? Why jihadists of course. And while there may be reason to assume this is the case, the fact that there are absolutely no known confirmed facts at this point allows us to be very grateful for the phenomenon of broad ethnic and racial stereotyping and profiling. Incidentally, according to preliminary reports, the description of the shooter at the Labor Party youth camp is 6 foot tall, and blond: last time we checked Libya didn't have an endogenous Aryan population.
From The Telegraph:
As of June 2011, there were still six F16 fighters from the Royal Norwegian Air Force operating in Libya, which is a possible motive for the attack. However, it is unlikely that Colonel Gadhafi has the ability to mobilise such an attack.
Norway has deployed around 500 troops in Afghanistan, and three Norwegian newspapers (Aftenposten, Dagbladet and Magazinet) published the controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoons in 2005-2006, providing another possible motive.
There is precedent for jihadist targeting of Norway, with public spaces, government offices and media targets most at risk.
One possible culprit is the Pakistan-based core al-Qaeda group, which has previously shown interest in attacking Norway. In July 2010, three Norwegian residents, one of whom had received explosives training with al-Qaeda in Pakistan, were arrested on suspicion of plotting attacks against unspecified targets. One of them had attempted to construct the same hydrogen peroxide-based explosives as used in the 2009 al-Qaeda bomb plot against the New York subway and the 7/7 bombings in London.
Nevertheless, Norway is not a priority country for jihadists, and any al-Qaeda targeting of Norway would probably be opportunistic, based on the fact that they had happened to recruit a Norwegian national. We also assess that any plans for spectacular attacks in Western Europe would probably have been altered or put on hold following bin Laden's death, pending internal security reviews. A further possibility, therefore, is that the attack was led by Norwegian jihadist sympathisers acting on their own initiative, possibly after receiving basic training from jihadist groups overseas.
The profiling continues:
This pattern was seen in Stockholm in December 2010, when Swedish citizen Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly blew himself up in a busy shopping street. He had visited Iraq for jihad, but appeared to have received minimal, if any, external training and guidance when planning the Stockholm attack. One possible training provider would be Somalia's al-Shabab, which maintains fundraising networks among Norway's Somali community and has proven attractive as a destination for Swedish and Danish jihadist sympathisers, though it has not so far shown interest in deploying its foreign fighters back home to conduct attacks.
Of course, the most probably explanation: that this is merely a domestic operation with no "jihadists" at all, is presented last. Because bond, blue eyed terrorists don't really sell page views.
Hours later there was an summer camp youth conference of the ruling Labour Party, which is being attended by current Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. The conference is taking place on the island of Utøya. The man apparently infiltrated the conference on the pretence that he had been sent by the police as a security measure in the wake of the Oslo explosions. As such, it is likely he was ethnically Norwegian. This could indicate the involvement of a far-right group rather than an Islamist group, though it is also the case that the Labour Party would be a favourable target for Islamist groups due to its role in authorising Norwegian military deployments in Afghanistan.
So much for the speculation. How about next time the "punditry" at least waits to get its fact straight before starting out on yet another senseless stereotypical crusade which will certainly make it far more likely that just this stereotype is precisely what is behind the next attack.