NBC Blames American Anti-Muslim Sentiment for Norway Attacks, Warns of Similar Violence in U.S.

On Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams proclaimed that Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik "seemed to be heavily influenced by some people in this country who write and blog about the perceived threat from Islam."  

In the report that followed, correspondent Michael Isikoff noted how writings of Robert Spencer, the associate director of Stop the Islamization of America, were cited several times in Breivik's 1,500-page manifesto and declared that "some analysts say words can be weapons themselves." A sound bite was featured of Heidi Beirich of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center: "When you push the demonization of populations, you often end up with violence."

Isikoff added: "And that may be exactly what has happened, says Beirich. The 2008 burning of a mosque in Tennessee is evidence of what Beirich says has been a spike in anti-Muslim attacks, including arsons and bombings in Florida, Michigan and Oregon."

The report even went so far as to feature former Department of Homeland Security terrorism analyst Daryl Johnson, who warned: "This attack in Norway should be a wake-up call for our country, for decision makers....we could have a similar type of attack here. And that's my greatest fear, is that we would have a Timothy McVeigh-type carry out a mass shooting event."

As footage appeared on screen of people protesting the Ground Zero Mosque, Isikoff concluded: "Homeland security officials told us tonight they are careful not to monitor political protests, but watch for domestic violent extremist activity regardless of ideology. And so far, they say, they see no evidence the problem is getting worse."


Here is a full transcript of the July 25 segment:

7:10PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS: As his long manifesto shows, the suspect in these killings seemed to be heavily influenced by some people in this country who write and blog about the perceived threat from Islam. And tonight one of them, a man named Robert Spencer, tells our national investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff he's being unfairly blamed for any of the motivation behind this tragedy.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: In the aftermath of the Oslo mass murder, investigators are focusing on that 1500-page manifesto in which accused suspect Anders Behring Breivik vows 'brutal and breathtaking operations' in order to stop 'the ongoing Islamic colonization of Europe.' Angry words, inspired, some analysts say, by heated rhetoric from groups in the United States such as Stop the Islamization of America; it's co-founder Robert Spencer is cited more than 50 times by Breivik. Spencer has written that 'traditional Islam contains violent and supremacist elements.' Breivik says he would be an 'excellent choice' for the Nobel Peace Prize.  But Spencer told NBC News today he bears no responsibility for what happened in Oslo.

ROBERT SPENCER: There's nothing in any of my writings that is anything but a defense of human rights, a defense of the equality of rights before – of all people before the law. And so if somebody gets from that that they should kill, well, then he's nuts.

ISIKOFF: But some analysts say words can be weapons themselves.

HEIDI BEIRICH [SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER]: When you push the demonization of populations, you often end up with violence.

ISIKOFF: And that may be exactly what has happened, says Beirich. The 2008 burning of a mosque in Tennessee is evidence of what Beirich says has been a spike in anti-Muslim attacks, including arsons and bombings in Florida, Michigan and Oregon.

DARYL JOHNSON [FORMER DHS TERRORISM ANALYST]: This attack in Norway should be a wake-up call for our country, for decision makers.

ISIKOFF: Daryl Johnson tracked extremist groups in the United States for the Department of Homeland Security and sees parallels with Breivik's writings.

JOHNSON: And we could have a similar type of attack here. And that's my greatest fear, is that we would have a Timothy McVeigh-type carry out a mass shooting event.

[FOOTAGE OF GROUND ZERO MOSQUE PROTESTORS]

ISIKOFF: Homeland security officials told us tonight they are careful not to monitor political protests, but watch for domestic violent extremist activity regardless of ideology. And so far, they say, they see no evidence the problem is getting worse. Michael Isikoff, NBC News, Washington.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC