Since that fateful day in September 2001, the definition of the word ‘terrorism’ has been somewhat revised by the popular press to refer almost exclusively to Islamic fundamentalism.
Western governments’ intelligence work, and the media spotlight, has focused almost exclusively on Islamic extremism, painting Muslims as suspicious, yet forgetting about the enemy within.
When a right-wing, blond Norwegian man did the unthinkable and killed at least 77 of his fellow countrymen last week, analysts the world over started questioning whether governments and the media were aiming their cameras at the wrong suspects.
It would be a mistake to denounce all far-right activists as potentially violent or deranged. Many dabble with radical factions as a result of frustration with mainstream parties and not because they are in agreement with leaders fanning their warped ideologies. This means right-wing extremist parties and groups are often disorganised and fragmented.
But it would be equally a mistake to believe there are no extremists in their midst. Studies have shown that disturbed people capable of resorting to violent means operate beyond the borders of conventional party politics.
Anders Breivik has been denounced as a loner with extremist views, but many within the far right, including in Malta, share his ideas about the need to take radical action against the ‘threat’ of Islam and immigrants. Browsing the manifestos of Breivik and those of local extreme right-wingers, such as Imperium Europa and the Viva Malta forum reveals some uncomfortable similarities.