The New Stockholm Syndrome

The Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal department looks at Ulf Hjertstrom:

If a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged, what do you call a Swede who’s been kidnapped? Somebody you wouldn’t want to cross, that’s for sure.

Ulf Hjertstrom has redefined the term Stockholm Syndrome, the bizarre attachment some hostages develop for their captors, first observed during a bank robbery in the Swedish capital more than 30 years ago. No such bonds were forged between Mr. Hjertstrom, a Swedish oil engineer, and the Shura Council of the Mujahedeen of Iraq, which held him captive for 67 days. “I have now put some people to work to find these bastards,” Mr. Hjertstrom told reporters after his release. “I invested about $50,000 so far. And we will get them one by one. These scum should be out of business.”

It does sound as if Mr. Hjertstrom has seen a few Charles Bronson movies, though it’s impossible not to empathize with his reaction. Mr. Hjertstrom was subject to mock executions and forced to witness the murder of several hostages. Contrast his response with that of Guiliana Sgrena, the Italian journalist accidentally shot by U.S. troops, who said coalition soldiers were ultimately responsible for the kidnappings in Iraq.

Likewise, Georges Malbrunot, one of two French hostages released in December, first did not understand why he and his colleague were held captive since their country had opposed the war. Eventually, though, Mr. Malbrunot came to understand. “Little by little, we came to discover we were really on planet bin Laden,” he wrote in Le Figaro. “For them [the terrorists], France is the West, it’s a global vision, it’s the infidel West against the Muslim world.”


Gee, you don’t say.


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