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Fla. Rep. Ross quick to condemn Norway attacks as result of Islamic terrorism

In the confusion that followed Friday’s attacks in Oslo, Norway, some observers in America — including one Florida congressman — were quick to point to preliminary reports, which turned out to be inaccurate, that the perpetrator was an Islamic terrorist. #

As those reports spread across social networks and the global media (including reliable outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post), U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, offered this reaction from his Twitter account: #

Our thoughts and prayers go out to a steadfast ally and friend – the Norwegian people. We stand with you against Islamic terror. #

That post has since been deleted, but has been captured — and broadcast repeatedly — by activists at Progress Florida (whose name indicates their political leanings). A PDF of a congressional web page that captures Ross’s Twitter feed, and still includes the post, can be found here. #

Soon after the original tweet, Ross added, in a post apparently directed at U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder: #

Shooting kids, at a camp, is not human. There is no negotiating, no domestic trials Mr Holder, only victory. #standwithNorway #

The gunman turned out to be a right-wing extremist with an apparent affinity for anti-Islamic rhetoric. Police are still looking for co-conspirators. #

When taken to task for his earlier missive by another Twitter user, Ross responded that “early reports … were incorrect. Terror is terror and it cannot be appeased. God be w/Norway,” adding: “but we also can’t pretend that the threat is equal. Global Islamic jihad is a real and present danger. Seeing the Intel is clear.” #

Some commentators, such as Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, have offered explanations as to why it was reasonable to reflexively suspect al-Qaida or similar groups, though he also notes a lesson learned about the peril of issuing knee-jerk reactions over the Internet. #

Others have tried to piece together how an unconfirmed claim of responsibility by a jihadist group spread so quickly through the global media. This timeline from the BBC captures the conflicting initial reports, many attributing the attacks to al-Qaida or a similar group, that emerged after the attack. Soon after the tragedy, Jens Stoltenber, the Norwegian prime minister, made a statement of strength and resolve that acknowledged the culprit was not yet known. #

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