The news that the suspected murderer of Jewish children and French paratroopers appears to be a jihadist with possible Al Qaeda links is causing some confusion in media circles.
On Radio 4 this morning it was stated that initial Police briefings that noted that 2 of 3 the French soldiers killed were Muslim, and suspicion had fallen on a Neo-Nazi motivation. Some former French Soldiers who had been dismissed after posing with a Nazi flag were tracked down.
After the initial bombing in Oslo Al Qaeda-inspired terrorism was suspected; after the related shootings it was found to be an extreme right winger. Jumping to conclusions is easy. It is perhaps natural to apply the template of key events (the London or Madrid bombings) or the last event (Oslo). Buying into Al Qaeda’s propaganda that there is a battle between the West and Muslims is all too common. Why would Al Qaeda kill Muslims?
In reality, Al Qaeda are as much in a battle with their co-religionists. This isn’t hard to see. Most victims of Al Qaeda violence are not Westerners, but Muslims. This is one of the reasons Al Qaeda have been losing widespread support for years.
In the UK, we have our own evidence that Al Qaeda extremists are quite willing to target Muslim soldiers. Five men were convicted of a plot to behead a UK Muslim soldier in Birmingham. In their minds, traitors to the cause can be eliminated, just as Breivik was willing to kill non-Muslims who he felt threatened his view of what Norway should be.
Neo-nazis and jihadists have their own reasons for shooting particular groups, but the fact they do so is not a feature that can be used to differentiate between them.