Category Archives: Terrorism statistics

Terrorism Is Not An Apocalyptic Threat

Terrorism Is Not An Apocalyptic Threat

May 2012 | John Mueller

At present rates, an American’s chance of being killed by a terrorist is about one in 3.5 million per year. The number of people killed worldwide outside of war zones since 2001 by Islamist extremists of all shapes and varieties is a few hundred per year. This number is regrettable, of course. But it scarcely presents an existential or apocalyptic threat.

There is a great deal I agree with in Breakthrough Institute’s report, “Planes, Trains, and Car Bombs.” In particular I salute Breakthrough’s efforts to supply an updated threat assessment. The sober and thoughtful dismemberment of the exceedingly popular notion that terrorists are likely to become capable of producing nuclear and other scary “weapons of mass destruction” is most welcome. And so is the observation that what remains of the Islamist extremist movement is very much in decline.

However, I would have appreciated some effort to assess the threat in quantitative terms. Breakthrough might have noted, for example, that, at present rates, an American’s chance of being killed by a terrorist is about one in 3.5 million per year. Or one might note that the number of people killed worldwide outside of war zones since 2001 by Islamist extremists of all shapes and varieties is a few hundred per year. This number is regrettable, of course. But it scarcely presents an existential or apocalyptic threat.

The conclusion that terrorists seek by their actions to “grow support for their cause so they can one day gain political power and govern territory,” leaves out, or actually seems to ignore, a key consideration in their motivation. In almost all domestic terrorism cases, the overwhelming driving force — besides perhaps “displaying self-relevance” as Breakthrough suggests at one point — was simmering, and more commonly boiling, outrage at American foreign policy. This was inspired by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular and also by the country’s support for Israel in the Palestinian conflict. Religion was a key part of the consideration for most. However, it was not that they had a burning urge to spread Sharia law or to establish caliphates — indeed, few of the potential terrorists would likely even be able to spell either word. Rather, it was the desire to protect their religion against what was commonly seen to be a concentrated war upon it in the Middle East by the United States government and military.

And while I agree that terrorists do not choose targets randomly, “Planes, Trains, and Car Bombs,” verges on the hyperbolic when it suggests there is a “seamless compatibility between their tactics and strategy.” The terrorists may not flip coins or soberly consult a table of random numbers when contemplating which targets to hit, but they often effectively act randomly in the sense that the targets are chosen out of momentary whim and caprice and for their convenience.

Therefore, given that there is a near-infinite number of potential targets, there is no good way to predict potential targets unless you can get, and stay, inside the mind of the specific would-be terrorist. A would be bomber targeted a mall in Rockford, Illinois because it was nearby, and terrorist plotters in Los Angeles in 2005 drew up a list of targets that were all within a 20-mile radius of their shared apartment, some of which didn’t exist.

Breakthrough’s conclusion that “airplanes are the most highly valued targets of terrorist attacks” is less than fully convincing. As the table in section II makes clear, no US-based terrorist has ever even considered airplanes as a target except for one group made up of addled petty criminals, one of them an illiterate schizophrenic. At any rate, it might be useful to note that one’s chance of being on an airliner that experiences a terrorist attack is about one in 20 million. (Breakthrough’s generally excellent earlier report, “Counterterrorism Since 9/11,” sensibly recommends the development of standard metrics for evaluating counterterrorism measures, but then, without doing so and without considering that airlines might already be kinda safe, rather impulsively insists that even more money should be thrown at screening passengers.)

Any method in the terrorists’ behavior on selecting targets seems to stem from their hostility to American foreign policy. Accordingly, military bases and, especially, recruiting stations (which must of necessity remain accessible to the public) disproportionately pop up in their plans. All the 14 people killed since 9/11 by Islamist extremists (representing less that one fiftieth of one percent of the homicides committed in the country over the same period) have occurred at military targets.

But it would be much too extravagant to suggest that the military is under siege. Although would-be terrorists have been drawn to bombs, in ten years no terrorist in the United States has been able to detonate even a primitive bomb and, except for the four explosions on the London transportation system in 2005, neither has any in the United Kingdom. In many instances, the only explosive on the scene was a fake one supplied by the FBI (in recently uncovered plots, accommodating FBI agents and informants have greatly outnumbered actual would-be terrorists). It is clear in these cases that the gullible terrorists utterly lacked the capacity to create or acquire a bomb on their own. When terrorists did try to create one after extensive training abroad, or were actually given one by a terrorist group abroad, the plot was disrupted or the bomb failed. In result, the only method by which Islamist terrorists have managed to kill anyone at all in the United States since 9/11 has been through the firing of guns.

In this context, I find wild understatement in “Planes, Trains, and Car Bombs” conclusion that the terrorists out there “do not appear to have recruited the sorts of sophisticated computer engineers who can threat the viability of key cyber-infrastructure or internet nodes.”

However, I find no understatement whatever in its observation that the chief danger arises from the possibility that terrorists will be able to goad the United States into “polarizing responses” that play into their hands.

With that important caveat, the report concludes by suggesting that “cautious optimism” is justified in assessing the threat presented by Islamist extremist terrorism. Maybe it is time to consider throwing such caution to the wind.

John Mueller is a professor of Political Science at Ohio State University and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.

100% Scared: How the National Security Complex Grows on Terrorism Fears

100% Scared: How the National Security Complex Grows on Terrorism Fears

Tom Engelhardt
June 10, 2011


[I]n the near decade since 9/11, while hundreds of Americans died from E. coli, and at least 30,000 from food-borne illnesses generally, only a handful of Americans, perhaps less than 20, have died from anything that might be considered a terror attack in this country, even if you include the assassination attempt against Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the Piper Cherokee PA-28 that a disgruntled software engineer flew into a building containing an IRS office in Austin, Texas, killing himself and an IRS manager.  (“Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well” went his final note.)


In other words, in terms of damage since 9/11, terror attacks have ranked above shark attacks but below just about anything else that could possibly be dangerous to Americans, including car crashes which have racked up between 33,800 and 43,500 deaths a year since 2001.


While E. coli deaths have dropped in recent years, no one expects them to get to zero, nor have the steps been taken that might bring us closer to the 100% safety mark.  As Gardiner Harris of the New York Timeswrote recently, “A law passed by Congress last year gave the Food and Drug Administration new powers to mandate that companies undertake preventive measures to reduce the likelihood of such outbreaks, and the law called for increased inspections to ensure compliance. The agency requested additional financing to implement the new law, including hiring more inspectors next year. Republicans in the House have instead proposed cutting the agency’s budget.”

Doctrines from One to 100

Here, then, is one of the strange, if less explored, phenomena of our post-9/11 American age: in only one area of life are Americans officially considered 100% scared, and so 100% in need of protection, and that’s when it comes to terrorism.


For an E. coli strain that could pose serious dangers, were it to arrive here, there is no uproar.  No screaming headlines highlight special demands that more money be poured into food safety; no instant plans have been rushed into place to review meat and vegetable security procedures; no one has been urging that a Global War on Food-Borne Illnesses be launched.


In fact, at this moment, six strains of E. coli that do cause illness in this country remain unregulated.  Department of Agriculture proposals to deal with them are “stalled” at the Office of Management and Budget.  Meanwhile, the super-toxic E. coli strain that appeared in Europe remains officially unregulated here.


On the other hand, send any goofus America-bound on a plane with any kind of idiotic device, and the politicians, the media, and the public promptly act as if — and it’s you I’m addressing, Chicken Little — the sky were falling or civilization itself were at risk.

This might be of only moderate interest, if it weren’t for the U.S. national security state.  Having lost its communist super-enemy in 1991, it now lives, breathes, and grows on its self-proclaimed responsibility to protect Americans 100% of the time, 100% of the way, from any imaginable terror threat.


The National Security Complex has, in fact, grown fat by relentlessly pursuing the promise of making the country totally secure from terrorism, even as life grows ever less secure for so many Americans when it comes to jobs, homes, finances, and other crucial matters.  It is on this pledge of protection that the Complex has managed to extort the tidal flow of funds that have allowed it to bloat to monumental proportions, end up with a yearly national security budget of more than $1.2 trillion, find itself encased in a cocoon of self-protective secrecy, and be 100% assured that its officials will never be brought to justice for any potential crimes they may commit in their “war” on terrorism.

Right now, even in the worst of economic times, the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, and the sprawling labyrinth of competing bureaucracies that likes to call itself the U.S. Intelligence Community are all still expanding.  And around them have grown up, or grown ever stronger, various complexes (àla “military-industrial complex”) with their associated lobbyists, allied former politicians, and retired national security state officials, as well as retired generals and admirals, in an atmosphere that, since 2001, can only be described as boomtown-like, the modern equivalent of a gold rush.


Think of it this way: in the days after 9/11, Vice President Cheney proposed a new formula for American war policy.  Its essence was this: even a 1% chance of an attack on the United States, especially involving weapons of mass destruction, must be dealt with as if it were a certainty.  Journalist Ron Suskind dubbed it “the one percent doctrine.”  It may have been the rashest formula for “preventive” or “aggressive” war offered in the modern era and, along with the drumbeat of bogus information that Cheney and crew dished out about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it was the basis for the Bush administration’s disastrous attempt to occupy that country and build a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East.


There was, it turns out, a “homeland” equivalent, never quite formulated or given a name, but remarkably successful nonetheless at feeding an increasingly all-encompassing domestic war state.  Call it the 100% doctrine (for total safety from terrorism). While the 1% version never quite caught on, the 100% doctrine has already become part of the American credo.

Thanks to it, the National Security Complex of 2011 is a self-reinforcing, self-perpetuating mechanism.  Any potential act of terrorism simply feeds the system, creating new opportunities to add yet more layers to one bureaucracy or another, or to promote new programs of surveillance, control, and war-making — and the technology that goes with them.  Every minor deviation from terror safety, even involving plots that failed dismally or never had the slightest chance of success, is but an excuse for further funding.


Meanwhile, the Complex continually “mans up” (or drones up) and, from Pakistan to Yemen, launches attacks officially meant to put terrorists out of action, but that have the effect of creating them in the process.  In other words, consider it a terrorist-creating machine that needs — what else? — repeated evidence of or signs of terrorism to survive and thrive.


Though few here seem to notice, none of this bears much relationship to actual American security.  But if the National Security Complex doesn’t make you secure, its 100% doctrine is by no means a failure. On the basis of ensuring your security from terror, it has managed to make itself secure from bad times, the dangers of downsizing, job loss, most forms of accountability, or prosecution for acts that once would have been considered crimes.

In fact, terrorism is anything but the greatest of our problems or threats, which means that acquiescing to a state dedicated to expansion on the principle of keeping you safe from terror is like making a bargain with the devil.


So suck it up.  Nothing is secure.  No one is safe.  Now, eat your sprouts.


Tom Engelhardt, editor of, is co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s.

The United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) does not possess terrorism statistics

The United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) does not possess terrorism statistics

I forwarded to the CTC the following question:
"I have been looking for terrorism statistics in UN reports and have not yet found any. I am particularly interested in statistics on victims of terrorism (mortality statistics etc) by year, region and country. Could you help? Thank you."

I received the following answer from the CTC on 3 September 2008:
"The United Nations does not compile the kind of information you are seeking. You might try research sites like The Terrorism Research Center ( or the Memorial Institute for the
Prevention of Terrorism ( and others like that."

The Terrorism Research Center website, referred in the answer, does NOT publish terrorism statistics. The MIPT has DISCONTINUED to publish terrorism statistics. This means that the UN Committee mandated to monitor the compliance with Security Council terrorist resolutions has no apparent access to terrorism statistics on which to base and justify its work. Before the abolishment of all terrorism statistics databases, the typical annual global mortality from terrorists varied between 2,000 and 5,000 persons, about 1/10 of the number of children who die DAILY from preventable causes and about 1/20 of the number of people dying from snake bites.  The figure is so low that its publication would embarass those who threaten us with the threat of terrorism.

The Counter-Terrorism Committee, CTC, was established by the UN Security Council.  Its Chairman, Ambassador Neven Jurica (of Croatia) briefed the Security Council on 6 May 2008 and said, among other things:  "As terrorism remains ONE OF THE MAJOR THREATS TO INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY, the Committee represents a crucial instrument of the international community to address that global scourge."  The Chairman was fantasizing or simply repeating a cliché, because he did not have at his disposal any empirical evidence about the threat represented by terrorism. Was this simply his stupidity or is Ambassador Jurica one of the many people who is paid to deceive ordinary people and who knows perfectly well that terrorism is NOT one of the major threats to international peace and security, and not even a threat to national security, the economy or the government of any state. In most European countries, for example, no person has ever been killed by terrorists, and in conflict zones, civilian deaths occur more often from the use of force by governments.

Impressions of Terrorism, Drawn From Court Files

Impressions of Terrorism, Drawn From Court Files
New York Times

Published: February 19, 2008

Jeffrey Breinholt, who is on leave from a counterterrorism post at the Justice Department, has been studying what he calls “an undervalued source of strategic intelligence about the threats we face from radical Islam within the U.S.” He has been looking at court decisions.

Last year, 888 judicial opinions mentioned Muslims, Islam or variations on those terms, more than in any other year in the history of the United States. In contrast to the views of many academic researchers and civil liberties groups, Mr. Breinholt says the decisions show that terrorism prosecutions work and that American Muslims are prickly, litigious and poorly integrated into American society.

“Next time someone claims that American prosecutors never win terrorism cases, or that Muslims are not more likely to be terrorists than other ethnic enclaves,” he wrote in a report last month, “recommend that they visit a law library, where they will find several published 2007 opinions in the case books where Muslims were successfully prosecuted for conduct related to religiously inspired violence.”

Mr. Breinholt, who is now director of national security law at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, a Washington research group, conducted his study by plugging words into a database of judicial decisions. After eliminating cases in which Islam figured tangentially and 280 cases brought by Muslim prisoners claiming violations of their religious rights, about 500 pretty interesting cases remained. Most of them involved garden-variety crimes, requests for asylum and claims of employment discrimination. Relatively few concerned terrorism.

Mr. Breinholt’s methodology was more impressionistic than scientific, as relatively few cases result in published decisions from judges. Guilty pleas, jury verdicts and settlements, for instance, do not generally appear in such databases.

In an interview, Mr. Breinholt said that his conclusions about terrorism were even stronger once guilty pleas were included. Over all, he said, the Justice Department wins terrorism cases 10 times as often as it loses them.

But David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown and the author, with Jules Lobel, of “Less Safe, Less Free: Why America is Losing the War on Terror,” said Mr. Breinholt’s numbers were misleading, as most of the prosecutions he counted as victories did not involve actual terrorists.

“Virtually all of their “terrorism? cases are material support cases,” Professor Cole said. It is fairly easy to prove that someone provided material support to terrorists, he added, as it requires no evidence of involvement in or intent to support terrorism. Writing a check to the wrong organization to support its charitable work is enough.

“When you have a broad guilt-by-association statute,” Professor Cole said, “it’s very easy to get convictions.”

By Professor Cole’s count, there has been only one conviction of someone who tried to commit a terrorist act linked to Islam after Sept. 11, that of Richard C. Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, who tried to blow up an airplane over the Atlantic.

Mr. Breinholt cited 11 decisions in his report as proof of the government’s good track record last year. They included opinions concerning Jose Padilla, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison last month for conspiring to aid terrorism; Yassin M. Aref, an Albany imam who was convicted of supporting terrorism; and John A. Muhammad, the older of the two snipers who killed 10 people in the Washington area in 2002.

But the case against Mr. Padilla evolved over the years as he moved from the criminal justice system to military detention and back, and he was ultimately convicted under a relatively elastic conspiracy law. The judge in the case said there was no evidence linking Mr. Padilla to a specific act of terrorism.

Mr. Aref, the imam, was convicted of supporting a hoax created by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

And while Mr. Muhammad, the sniper, surely terrorized the Washington area and said he was a Muslim, he was not a classic jihadist.

The decisions Mr. Breinholt collected do provide a snapshot of public and judicial attitudes. Beyond the terrorism cases, two trends are clear: the number of civil cases brought by Muslim plaintiffs is growing fast, and the plaintiffs almost always lose.

There were, for instance, 69 employment discrimination decisions involving Muslim plaintiffs in 2007. Only one involved a victory, if you can call it that.

Abdul W. Azimi, a meat slicer in Portland, Me., sued his employer, Jordan Meats, for what an appeals court called “myriad and outrageous? mistreatment. Mr. Azimi found pieces of pork in his jacket, a picture of Osama bin Laden in his locker and his shoes in the toilet. A Maine jury ruled in his favor but awarded him no damages, leaving him with only a judicial declaration that his employer had violated the law.

That seems to be par for the course. Mr. Breinholt says only about a dozen Muslim plaintiffs claiming religious discrimination have prevailed in court in the history of the United States.

Various conclusions are possible. One is that it is not easy to win employment discrimination suits based on religious bias regardless of denomination. Another is that the American legal system may be particularly hostile to claims brought by Muslim plaintiffs.

But Mr. Breinholt goes in a different direction. Muslim plaintiffs are using “frequently frivolous litigation,” he said, “to control how people express themselves and to frustrate government security efforts.”

Professor Cole drew a different conclusion. “One definition of being integrated into American society,” he said, “is being involved in a lot of litigation. We are a very litigious society.”

Online: Documents and an archive of Adam Liptak’s articles:

How to disinform with terrorism statistics

In the article below the authors studiously avoid to mention the number of fatal victims of terrorism, particularly those who die from terrorism outside areas of armed conflict. No mention is made in this article of the number of people who died from terrorism in the United States.

Terror attacks up 29%, report says

Monday, Apr 30, 2007

By Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON – A State Department report on terrorism due out next week will show a nearly 30 percent increase in terrorist attacks worldwide in 2006 to more than 14,000, almost all of the boost due to growing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Friday.

The annual report's release comes amid a bitter feud between the White House and Congress over funding for U.S. troops in Iraq and a deadline favored by Democrats to begin a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her top aides earlier this week had considered postponing or downplaying the release of this year's edition of the terrorism report, officials in several agencies and on Capitol Hill said.

Ultimately, they decided to issue the report on or near the congressionally mandated deadline of Monday, the officials said.

"We're proceeding in normal fashion with the final review of this and expect it to be released early next week," State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said.

A half-dozen U.S. officials with knowledge of the report's contents or the debate surrounding it agreed to discuss those topics on the condition they not be identified because of the extreme political sensitivities surrounding the war and the report.

Based on data compiled by the U.S. intelligence community's National Counterterrorism Center, the report says there were 14,338 terrorist attacks last year, up 29 percent from 11,111 attacks in 2005.

Forty-five percent of the attacks were in Iraq.

Worldwide, there were about 5,800 terrorist attacks that resulted in at least one fatality, also up from 2005.

The figures for Iraq and elsewhere are limited to attacks on noncombatants and don't include strikes against U.S. troops.

Even after this year's report was largely completed and approved, Rice and her aides this week called for a further round of review, in part to avoid repeating embarrassing missteps of recent years in the report's release, officials said. The review process is being led by Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, formerly the nation's intelligence czar.

The U.S. intelligence community is said to be preparing a separate, classified report on terrorist "safe havens" worldwide, and officials have debated whether Iraq meets that definition.

The report can be expected to be used as ammunition for both sides in the domestic battle over the Iraq war.

President Bush and his aides routinely call Iraq the "central front" in Bush's war on terrorism and likely will say that the preponderance of attacks there and in Afghanistan prove their point.

But critics say the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq have worsened the terrorist threat.

The contention by Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney that al-Qaida terrorists were in Iraq and allied with the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein before the invasion has been disproved on numerous fronts.

In September, a Senate Intelligence Committee report found that Saddam rejected pleas for assistance from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and tried to capture another terrorist whose presence in Iraq is often cited by Cheney, the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

"Postwar findings indicate that Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qaida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qaida to provide material or operational support," the Senate report said.

Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA officer who also worked in counterterrorism at the State Department, said that while the new report would show major increases in attacks last year in Iraq and Afghanistan, it could chart reductions in mass casualty attacks in the rest of the world.

"The good news is … we're seeing verifiable and drastic reductions," he said.

Among the major strikes were bombings in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Dahab on April 24, which killed 23 people and injured more than 60, and aboard trains in Mumbai, India, that left more than 200 dead and in excess of 700 wounded on July 11.

In 2004, the State Department was forced to correct a first version of the report that the administration had used to tout progress in Bush's war on terror. The original version had undercounted the number of people killed in terrorist attacks in 2003, putting it at less than half of the actual number.

In 2005, the department was again accused of playing politics with the report when it decided not to publish the document after U.S. officials concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985.

The outcry forced Rice to drop that plan and publish the report.

Politicians don’t really believe in the terror threat

A drill designed to prepare the Commons for a terrorist attack was attended by just five per cent of MPs.

Leader of the House Geoff Hoon told journalists that "about 30 MPs" had taken part and that he "wished there had been more".

With the public being urged to be vigilant, Hoon faced questions regarding the 95 per cent of MPs who had not taken part in the drill.

The former defence secretary said working within the MoD for so long had given him an insight into security, and that he felt the exercise was important enough for him to miss a committee in order to attend.

The serjeant at arms, in charge of Commons security, said that members, staff and the police had rehearsed three different scenarios including a gas attack and an intruder disrupting proceedings.

An evacuation and the chamber being locked with everyone inside were rehearsed.

The drill is part of a tightening up of parliamentary security, particularly in the wake of the London bombings.

Steel barriers have replaced the concrete blocks designed to protect the building from car bombs.

Over the summer recess the security screen in front of the Commons public gallery will be strengthened and extended.

It was first constructed after Fathers4justice campaigners threw purple powder at Tony Blair during prime minister's questions.

An invasion of the chamber by pro-hunt supporters also highlighted the vulnerability of the Commons; new measures were put in place.

Dangers from terrorism scant compared to other risks, experts say

“Terrorism has become one more actuarial risk, like getting out of bed. Americans have shown they can live with the risks of getting out of bed, and terrorism as well, particularly if terrorism is as low as it has been.”

Dangers from terrorism scant compared to other risks, experts say

By Miles Benson
Newhouse News Service

08/08/04  “Seattle Times” — WASHINGTON – The terrorists can’t win. They can’t wreck the economy or inflict other forms of irreparable damage on the nation, despite their ability to impose great inconveniences, disruptions, expense and occasional scary periods of elevated alert, many experts say.

To be sure, bombs or other forms of attack on the homeland could take lives, and the respite since Sept. 11, 2001, may not last. But the danger of average Americans or their loved ones becoming casualties in the war on terrorism is scant compared, say, to the daily risks they face from automobile accidents, crime or weather-related menaces.

“A false sense of insecurity” grips the nation, spurred partly by war rhetoric from President Bush and his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, warns John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University.

The election campaign intensifies “a general tendency to exaggerate worst-case scenarios ” that terrorists can destroy our way of life,” Mueller said. “That strikes me as basically wrong. Most likely there is some destruction here and there, which is very tragic ? we can’t downplay the horror to the people directly involved ? but the idea that a tiny group of terrorists on the run can actually destroy the U.S. is extremely questionable.”

Other experts agree that the climate of danger and concern is out of proportion to the reality of terrorist capabilities.

Al-Qaida might target the U.S. financial-services industry ” that threat triggered the current elevated alert in New York, Washington, D.C., and Newark, N.J. ? but even a successful attack would not bring the nation’s economy to a halt.

“Blowing up the International Monetary Fund or the New York Stock Exchange would be calamities, but not in that category, because the economy recovers from personal tragedies quite readily, in a heartless kind of way,” said Henry Aaron, an economist at the Brookings Institution.

“We should not be complacent,” said Chester Crocker, a former assistant secretary of state under President Reagan, now a professor of diplomacy at Georgetown University. “But there is danger of people who don’t know how the world is organized getting spooked and hysterical by the hype and emotional overreaction at the popular level.”

Terrorists may attempt to tear the fabric of society, but can they accomplish that?

“No, not tactically,” said Frank Cilluffo, associate vice president for homeland security at George Washington University and a former senior terrorism adviser to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. It’s not “within the realm of probability. But they are in the business of inflaming fear. They can win battles, but in the long term they cannot overcome our resilience and who we are as a nation.”

While there is always the chance of losing hundreds of lives or critical parts of the infrastructure, “there is no danger of massive defeat of the United States” by terrorism, said Anthony Cordesman, a senior defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Factors like the weather attack us all the time and produce casualties, but we are a great deal more resilient than most people understand.”

“Terrorism has become one more actuarial risk, like getting out of bed. Americans have shown they can live with the risks of getting out of bed, and terrorism as well, particularly if terrorism is as low as it has been.”

The National Center for Health Statistics, which tracks 113 causes of death in the United States, reported that in the same year that nearly 3,000 people died in the Sept. 11 attacks, 43,788 died in motor-vehicle accidents, 30,622 by suicide, 20,306 were murdered (including 11,348 by firearms), 14,078 died by accidental poisoning and 3,021 died as a result of complications from medical care. An additional 700,000 Americans died of heart disease, the No. 1 killer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while 553,768 died of cancer and 32,238 died of blood poisoning.

[See comment by Elias Davidsson below]

“It’s hard to compare the dangers of terrorism with other threats to life,” said Dr. Robert Lifton, a psychiatrist who has studied and written extensively about the ways people react to extreme situations.

“With terrorism, with Sept. 11, there was a shocking experience of violation of America’s sense of safety,” said Lifton, author of “Superpower Syndrome,” a book about the nation’s response to the terrorist threat.

Some critics think the Bush administration has manipulated warnings about the timing of possible terrorist attacks for political purposes. Cilluffo, a Republican, dismissed such suggestions as “truly preposterous.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski, national-security adviser to former President Carter, is not so sure, and he worries about the degree to which perceived political imperatives drive leaders in both parties.

“My grave concern is that we are hyping ourselves into a state of panic which is going to discredit us internationally even if it has some utility in the short run for the administration,” Brzezinski said. “It reinforces the theme that we are at war. In a war you don’t change your commander in chief. This is a pretend war. If it was a real war, we would have a draft, special taxes and a sense of sacrifice, posters with Uncle Sam pointing a finger at you and saying, ‘I want you.’ “

Brzezinski acknowledged that Democratic presidential nominee Kerry also is talking “war” and using other language similar to Bush in describing the terrorist threat.

“I suspect it’s unnecessary,” Brzezinski said. He blamed other party leaders, including Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and former House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri.

“Democrats were stampeded into supporting Bush and enlarging the scope of the conflict,” Brzezinski said.

Comment by Elias Davidsson

A more representative comparison would be a typical year and not 2001. In a typical year the number of Americans who die from terrorism is less than 10.  The events of 11. September 2001 are widely regarded as “false flag” terrorism, that is an “inside job” by US agencies. Until this fact is fully clarified, it is unwise to use the figure of 3000 terror victims. 


Will the terrorist attacks affect your insurance policies?

Will the terrorist attacks affect your insurance policies?


By Vicki Lankarge
Last updated Sept. 17, 2001

Worried that the recent terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., will affect your personal insurance policies?

The direct losses from the events of Sept. 11, 2001, will exceed the largest insured losses ever, according to Standard & Poor’s. Insurance industry experts place the total losses from the destruction at $20 billion. As a whole, the insurance industry is well capitalized and normally able to withstand large hits, but there’s always the possibility that an overwhelming number of claims could bankrupt a less financially sound company.

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how insurers will meet their commitments.

"All insurance policies ? whether life, health, or property ? generally will cover the events that occurred."

Will life insurance premiums go up?

It’s very unlikely life insurance premiums will rise as a direct result of these terrorist attacks. While it is impossible to predict the marketing decisions of any company, the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) says "the competitive pressures that have driven down the cost of life insurance coverage remain in place."

According to the ACLI, the insurance industry has $3.1 trillion in assets and liquid reserves. In 2000, life insurers paid $44.1 billion in death benefits on 3.8 million life insurance policies. To put the industry’s exposure from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks into perspective, on average, the life insurance industry pays death benefits on nearly 10,500 life policy claims every day.

Will my auto or home insurance premiums go up?

While there may be a chance that the rates of smaller or regional property/casualty insurers may rise as a result of an overwhelming number of claims due to the attacks, it is just as likely they will not, says Joe Annotti, spokesperson for the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII). Annotti says property/casualty insurance premiums did not dramatically rise across the country in 1992 in the wake of Hurricane Andrew, a disaster that cost the insurance industry $19.6 billion.

Is my insurance company going to go out of business if it has to pay a lot of claims?

Because a disaster of this magnitude has never happened in our history, it is too early to predict what the financial impact of the disaster will be on each and every insurer. However, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, insurance regulators will closely monitor the financial solvency of affected companies and will watch their actions to ensure all policyholders are fairly compensated for their financial losses.

Will my insurance company be able to pay all the claims resulting from the disaster?

"All insurance policies ? whether life, health, or property ? generally will cover the events that occurred," according to the ACLI. "We have every confidence companies have the financial ability to keep the promises they’ve made to their policyholders on this instance."

Terrorism exclusions generally are written into contracts of military personnel or those who travel to places where terrorist acts are common.

I’ve heard some insurance policies have "terrorism" or "acts of war" exclusions. Do I have these exclusions in my insurance policies?

Probably not. Life, auto, and home insurance policies written for the average individual typically do not contain terrorism exclusions. It’s highly unlikely that many, if any, victims of the tragedy had a policy with an exclusion for the attacks. Terrorism exclusions are generally written into contracts of military personnel or those who travel to places where terrorist acts are common. They typically do not apply when the insured is in the United States.

While life insurance policies have included act-of-war exclusions in the past, it hasn’t been a standard part of any life insurance policy since the end of the Vietnam War. However, your property/casualty insurance policies are indeed written to exclude coverage for acts of war. If the act-of-war exclusion clause of an insurance contract is invoked, insurance companies can refuse to pay the benefits on the policies, including payments on businesses, homes, and cars that are damaged or destroyed.

However, insurers would face some difficult challenges if they did decide to invoke act-of-war clauses, both legally and as a matter of public opinion, according to Garrett Moore, a partner at Moore, O’Brien, Jacques, and Yelenak, a Connecticut law firm focusing on airline litigation. "The public response would be absolutely devastating to insurance companies," says Moore. "And there may be legal barriers even if they did decide they wanted to invoke act-of-war clauses."

Can I buy terrorist insurance?

The average individual does not need expensive policies that cover losses due to terrorism, according to Don Griffin, a spokesperson for the NAII. These policies ? typically sold to businesses ? are most often purchased when the policyholder has other auto or property/casualty insurance policies that specifically exclude losses due to terrorism.

What should I do with my variable life insurance policy and variable annuity?

A variable life insurance policy should not be viewed as a traditional investment. While it does have a savings component, variable life insurance policies should be purchased primarily for their insurance coverage. In any event, as a result of the terrorist attacks, your variable insurance policy and variable annuity are probably worth less today than they were prior to Sept. 11, 2001. However, any funds you have in the stock market should be reviewed on a long-term basis, not on the basis of one-week, one-month, or even one-year returns.

Because variable products normally have a number of different investment options from which to choose, you may be considering moving into more conservative investments. While that is an option, you should review your entire investment portfolio when considering making any changes to ensure your assets are properly allocated according to your long-term goals.

Deaths from international terrorism compared with road crash deaths in OECD countries

Title: Deaths from international terrorism compared with road crash deaths in OECD countries
Author(s): Wilson N, Thomson G
Source: INJURY PREVENTION 11 (6): 332-333 DEC 2005
Document Type: Article
Language: English

Abstract: Objective: To estimate the relative number of deaths in member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development ( OECD) from international terrorism and road crashes.

Methods: Data on deaths from international terrorism ( US State Department database) were collated ( 1994 – 2003) and compared to the road injury deaths ( year 2000 and 2001 data) from the OECD International Road Transport Accident Database.

Results: In the 29 OECD countries for which comparable data were available, the annual average death rate from road injury was approximately 390 times that from international terrorism. The ratio of annual road to international terrorism deaths ( averaged over 10 years) was lowest for the United States at 142 times. In 2001, road crash deaths in the US were equal to those from a September 11 attack every 26 days.

Conclusions: There is a large difference in the magnitude of these two causes of deaths from injury. Policy makers need to be aware of this when allocating resources to preventing these two avoidable causes of mortality.
Addresses: Wilson N (reprint author), Univ Otago, Wellington Sch Med & Hlth Sci, Dept Publ Hlth, POB 7343, Wellington, New Zealand
Univ Otago, Wellington Sch Med & Hlth Sci, Dept Publ Hlth, Wellington, New Zealand

E-mail Addresses:

Statistics on terrorism fatalities in Europe

Statistics on terrorism fatalities in Western Europe

by Elias Davidsson

On January 15, 2006, I attempted a google search on the following strings:

“statistics on european terrorism”
“statistics on terror in europe”
“statistics on terrorism in europe”
“european statistics on terrorism”
“european statistics on terror”
“terror statistics europe”
“terror statistics in europe”
“terrorism statistics, europe”
“terrorism statistics in europe”
“terror deaths in europe”
“terrorism deaths in europe”
“deaths from terrorism in europe”

None of these strings yielded even a single document. The same search was carried four years later, on October 1, 2010, with no result found. An intensive search yielded finally the MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base which contains statistics on terrorism fatalities according to countries, including statistics on terrorism fatalities in European countries. These statistics are presented below.

The European Union has not only declared terrorism as a serious threat to “European security”, but initiated numerous far-reaching measures to deal with this allegedly serious threat, including legislation which increases police powers and mass monitoring of the population, thus undermining individual privacy and the liberty on which the respect for privacy is based. Neither the public nor legislatures have been provided with statistics on terrorism in Europe which would help constituents assess the real (as distinguished from the contrived) threat from terrorism. One is entitled to suspect that the failure of publicizing these statistics is based on the fear that public awareness of these figures might undermine public support for the global “war on terror” (the figleaf behind which wars of aggression and various military interventions are hidden).

The fact that the threat emanating from global terrorism is outrageously inflated (between 2,000 – 4,000 die yearly worldwide from terrorist acts, as compared to 50,000-100,000 deaths from snake bites, or 10,000,000 child deaths from preventable causes) should give rise to serious questions regarding the real motives of those who have initiated and currently pursue the “war on terror”. Even according to utilitarian views, the deaths of 10 million children a year would deserve the expenditure of at least 1000 times more efforts and funds than to prevent the deaths of 2,000-4,000 people a year. The imbalance in tackling these two scourges tells much about motive.

In a new Fact Sheet from the EU Council Secretariat, Brussels, 9 March 2007, we read: “Terrorism poses a significant threat to the security of Europe…”. Here is the proof (which the European Council failed to provide to European citizens):

Number of terror fatalities in Western Europe 2001-2010

Country/Year 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Insgesamt
Austria 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Belgium 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Danmark 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Finland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
France 2 6 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 12
Germany 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Greece 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Iceland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Luxemburg 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
The Netherlands
0 1** 0 1** 0 0 0 0 0 0 (2)
Norway 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sweden 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Portugal 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Spain 16 7 4 191* 0 0 2 14 3 0 (237)****
The United Kingdom
9*** 4*** 1*** 0 56* 0 0 0 0 0 (70)
Switzerland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 27 18 8 195* 56* 0 2 14 3 2 (325)
 * It is unsettled whether the attacks in Madrid on March 11, 2004 and London on July 7, 2005 were committed by Muslim fanatics or by intelligence agencies.
** These attacks should be classified as ordinary murder, not as terrorism.
*** The conflict in Ireland appears to have been solved.
**** Most (if not all all) terror attacks in Spain are attributed to Basque separatists

Source: MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base (

(Well, well. I attempted to look up newer statistics on the aforementioned database on April 17, 2008. I discovered that its host organisation, MIPT, discontinued the maintenance of the Terrorism Knowledge Base (tkb) but continues to promote even more forcefully a counter-terrorism ideology. Those interested in statistics may still find such figures on (Global Terrorism Database). I encourage all those interesting to document these figures to archive such statistics,including source and date of search, because the danger that those who publicize these statistics may sooner or later remove the statistics from the public domain – Webmaster)

* Unsolved crimes. Unclaimed crimes. Anomalies in the public account. No public inquiry allowed. Suspicion of police/intelligence involvement in the crime. See specific websites dedicated to these crimes.

** Wrongly classified as terrorism. These were plain acts of murder in which the murderer intended to kill his selected victim.

Analysis: Apart from the two unsolved “terrorist” crimes mentioned above, which are suspected to have been “false-flag” operations masterminded by Western intelligence agencies (like the events of 9/11), most terrorism fatalities between 2001 and 2006 in Western Europe occured in Spain (as a result of reported Basque terror attacks) and in Northern Ireland (apparently by IRA and Unionists). Both of these cases represent local political conflicts. The effects of these terror acts on society remained marginal. They had no visible effect on “European security”. The conflict in Northern Ireland is currently being solved. No terror fatalities have been recorded there since 2004. Fatalities from Basque terrorism have not been recorded since 2004 either. The remaining recorded fatalities from terrorism in Western Europe include some fatalities from simple murders which have been wrongly classified as “terrorism”. In most European countries no person has died from terrorism over the period under consideration. Nothing indicates that this will significantly change in the coming years. The main unsolved cases of mass murder, designated as terrorism, are those committed in London in 2005 and Madrid in 2004. Until these crimes are fully solved, there is no factual base to consider terrorism as a real threat in Europe. But even if the crimes in London and Madrid were genuine terrorist acts committed by those who have been accused of these crimes, they would not constitute a “threat” to the security of Spain or of the United Kingdom, let alone to Europe, but merely a large crime, whose victims are not more numerous than the victims of a typical train or plane crash. While these crimes severely affected the lives and well-being of its direct victims and their relatives, they did not disrupt or undermine the operation of public institutions, economic life, defense capacity, the social fabric, or the well-being of the population. To state that terrorism constitutes a “significant threat to the security of Europe” is a monumental and most probably wilful misrepresentation by the European Council. Some would call this a plain lie.

Elias Davidsson
28. 3 2007


UN has no terrorism statistics

United Nations has no terrorism statistics

Searches of the UN official web site for the strings "terrorism statistics" and "terror statistics" carried out on January 15, 2006, did not yield a single document.  See results:

UN terror statistics.pdf 

Yet,  the UN Security Council  designated terrorism – a phenomenom which has eluded definition and on which the United Nations organisation does not even possess basic statistics –  as “one of the most serious threats to peace and security.” (resolution 1456 (2003)) .


Statistics prove prescription drugs are 16,400% more deadly than terrorists

Statistics prove prescription drugs are 16,400% more deadly than terrorists

July 05, 2005 by Jessica Fraser

Since Americans spend so much money on health care, they should be getting a high quality of care, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Of the 783,936 annual deaths due to conventional medical mistakes, about 106,000 are from prescription drugs, according to Death by Medicine. That also is a conservative number. Some experts estimate it should be more like 200,000 because of underreported cases of adverse drug reactions.

Americans today are used to fixing problems the quick way ? even when it comes to their health. Thus, they rely heavily on prescription drugs to fix their diseases. For every conceivable ailment ? real or not ? chances are there’s a pricey prescription drug to "treat" it. Chances are even better that their drug of choice comes chock full of side effects.

The problem is, prescription drugs don’t treat diseases; they merely cover the symptoms. U.S. physicians provide allopathic health care ” that is, they care for disease, not health. So, the over-prescription of drugs and medications is designed to treat disease instead of preventing it. And because there are so many drugs available, unforeseen adverse drug reactions are all too common, which leads to the highly conservative annual prescription drug death rate of 106,000. Keep in mind that these numbers came before the Vioxx scandal, and Cox-2 inhibitor drugs could ultimately end up killing tens of thousands more.
        The great direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising con: how patients and doctors alike are easily influenced to demand dangerous drugs   
    American medical patients are getting the short end of a rather raw deal when it comes to prescription drugs. Medicine is a high-dollar, highly competitive business. But it shouldn’t be. Null’s report cites the five most important aspects of health that modern medicine ignores in favor of the almighty dollar: Stress, lack of exercise, high calorie intake, highly processed foods and environmental toxin exposure. All these things are putting Americans in such poor health that they run to the doctor for treatment. But instead of doctors treating the causes of their poor health, such as putting them on a strict diet and exercise regimen, they stuff them full of prescription drugs to cover their symptoms. Using this inherently faulty system of medical treatment, it’s no wonder so many Americans die from prescription drugs. They’re not getting better; they’re just popping drugs to make their symptoms temporarily go away.

But not all doctors subscribe to this method of "treatment." In fact, many doctors are just as angry as the public should be, charging that scientific medicine is "for sale" to the highest bidder ” which, more often than not, end up being pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical industry is a multi-trillion dollar business. Companies spend billions on advertising and promotions for prescription drugs. Who can remember the last time they watched television and weren’t bombarded with ads for pills treating everything from erectile dysfunction to sleeplessness? And who has ever been to a doctor’s office or hospital and not seen every pen, notepad and post-it bearing the logo of some prescription drug?
Medical experts claim that patients’ requests for certain drugs have no effect on the number of prescriptions written for that drug. Pharmaceutical companies claim their drug ads are "educational" to the public. The public believes the FDA reviews all the ads and only allows the safest and most effective drug ads to reach the public. It’s a clever system: Pharmaceutical companies influence the public to ask for prescription drugs, the public asks their physicians to prescribe them certain drugs, and doctors acquiesce to their patients’ requests. Everyone’s happy, right? Not quite, since the prescription drug death toll continues to rise.

The public seems to genuinely believe that drugs advertised on TV are safe, in spite of the plethora of side effects listed by the commercial’s narrator, ranging from diarrhea to death. Patients feel justified in asking their physicians to prescribe them a particular drug they’ve seen on TV, since it surely must be safe or it wouldn’t have been advertised. Remember all those TV ads heralding the wonders of Vioxx? One might wonder how many lives could have been spared if patients didn’t see the ad on TV and request a prescription from their doctors.

But advertising isn’t the only tool the pharmaceutical industry uses to influence medicine. Null’s study cites an ABC report that said pharmaceutical companies spend over $2 billion sending doctors to more than 314,000 events every year. While doctors are riding the dollar of pharmaceutical companies, enjoying all the many perks of these "events," how likely are they to question the validity of drug companies or their products?
        Take Back Your Health Power! How to reclaim your natural health power from the doctors, drug companies and food marketers who have stolen your right to be healthy
This courageous report tells you how to take back your power from those who have been exploiting your misfortune for their profit. Learn how to put yourself in control and transform your health outcome from this day forward.   
    Admittedly, not all doctors reside in the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies. Some are downright angry at the situation, and angry on behalf of an unaware public. Major conflicts of interest exist between the American public, the medical community and the pharmaceutical industry. And although the public suffers the most from this conflict, it is the least informed. The public gets the short end of the stick and they don’t even know it. That is why the pharmaceutical industry remains a multi-trillion dollar business.

Prescription drugs are only a part of the U.S. healthcare system’s miserable failings. In fact, outpatient deaths, bedsore deaths and malnutrition deaths each account for higher death rates than adverse drug reactions. The problems run deep and cannot be remedied without drastic, widespread change in the system’s money and ethics.

The first issue ? money ? is the main reason the medical industry cannot seem to change. Prescribing more drugs and recommending more surgeries means more profits. Getting more drugs approved by the FDA, regardless of their safety, means more money for the pharmaceutical industry. As the healthcare system stands today, physicians and drug companies can’t seem to pass up earning loads of money, even if a few hundred thousand people lose their lives in the process. Even in drastic cases of deadly drugs, everyone involved has a scapegoat: Drug companies can blame the FDA for approving their product and the doctors for over-prescribing it, and doctors can blame the patients for wanting it and not properly weighing the risks.
        Physicians and bribery: a closer look at this common medical industry practice   
    What ultimately arises is a question of ethics. In layman’s terms, ethics are the rules or moral guidelines that govern the conduct of people or professions. Some ethics are ingrained from childhood, but some are specifically set forth. For example, nearly all medical schools have their new doctors take a modern form of the Hippocratic Oath. While few versions are identical, none include setting aside proper medical care in favor of money-making practices.

On the research side of the issue, "Death by Medicine" cites an ABC report that says clinical trials funded by pharmaceutical companies show a 90 percent chance that a drug will be perceived as effective, whereas clinical trials not funded by drug companies show only a 50 percent chance that a drug will be perceived as effective. "It appears that money can’t buy you love, but it can buy you any ‘scientific’ result you want," writes Null and his team of researchers.

The government spends upwards of $30 billion a year on homeland security. Such spending seems important. Since 2001, 2,996 people in the United States have died from terrorism ? all as a result of the 9/11 attacks. In that same period of time, 490,000 people have died from prescription drugs, not counting the Vioxx scandal. That means that prescription drugs in this country are at least 16,400 percent deadlier than terrorism. Again, those are the conservative numbers. A more realistic number, which would include deaths from over-the-counter drugs, makes drug consumption 32,000 percent deadlier than terrorism. But the scope of "Death by Medicine" is even wider. Conventional medicine, including unnecessary surgeries, bedsores and medical errors, is 104,700 percent deadlier than terrorism. Yet, our government’s attention and money is not put into reforming health care.
        Ethics: the all-important lesson that’s rarely taught in medical schools or public schools   
    Couldn’t a little chunk of the homeland security money be better spent on overhauling the corrupt U.S. healthcare system, the leading cause of death in America? Couldn’t we forfeit the color-coded threat system in favor of stricter guidelines on medical research and prescription drugs? No one is attempting to say that terrorism in the world is not a problem, especially for a high-profile country like the United States. No one is saying that the people who died on 9/11 didn’t matter or weren’t horribly wronged by the terrorists that day. But there are more dangerous things in the United States being falsely represented as safe and healthy, when, in reality, they are deadly. The corruption in the pharmaceutical industry and in America’s healthcare system poses a far greater threat to the health, safety and welfare of Americans today than terrorism.

If the Bush Administration really wants to save lives — a lot of lives — it needs look no further than the chemical war has been declared on Americans by Big Pharma.











Trumped up terrorism numbers


The Justice Department’s hoax "domestic terrorism" statistics

From: Declan McCullagh <>
Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2002 11:51:09 -0500

St. Petersburg Times editorial
January 2, 2002
Trumped up terrorism numbers
   Is a drunk, rowdy passenger on an airplane a terrorist? Is a man who
   pushes a judge? They are according to annual reports from the
   Department of Justice. An investigation by the Miami Herald found that
   the department routinely overstates the number of terrorist arrests
   and convictions it makes every year. It does so, apparently, to cook
   the numbers for Congress, as a way to justify its annual $22-billion
   budget of which counterterrorism is a part.
   Is a drunk, rowdy passenger on an airplane a terrorist? Is a man who
   pushes a judge? They are according to annual reports from the
   Department of Justice. An investigation by the Miami Herald found that
   the department routinely overstates the number of terrorist arrests
   and convictions it makes every year. It does so, apparently, to cook
   the numbers for Congress, as a way to justify its annual $22-billion
   budget of which counterterrorism is a part.
   In the department’s most recent annual report, released in May, the
   department claims there were 236 terrorism convictions in the fiscal
   year ending September 2000. But when pressed to provide specifics, the
   department refused to release information backing up that number or
   disclosing the details of those convictions.
   In its investigation, Herald reporters reviewed dozens of so-called
   terrorism cases over a five-year period, examining files obtained
   through the Freedom of Information Act. The reporters found that
   numerous convictions labeled as terrorism were just ordinary crimes,
   having nothing to do with a politically motivated agenda. For example,
   the department listed as a case of domestic terrorism, the conviction
   of a man from Arizona who got drunk while returning from Shanghai. He
   had continually demanded liquor and manhandled a flight attendant. The
   judge in the case called it a case of a man "being an annoyance beyond
   belief," but not terrorism.
   According to the department, terrorism was also involved in the case
   of an Ecuadorian man who tried smuggling 12 guns from Miami to his
   home country for the purpose of reselling them. And the conviction of
   seven Chinese sailors was counted as terrorism after they commandeered
   a boat in order to sail it into U.S. territorial waters to ask for
   political asylum.
   Disturbingly, the federal prosecutor office in San Francisco was the
   office that listed the most cases of domestic terrorism over the past
   three years. For much of that time, Robert Mueller, now director of
   the FBI, was at its helm.

State Department will not release terror statistics

See No Terror, Hear No Terror


April 22, 2005

BROOKE GLADSTONE: From WNYC in New York, this is NPR’s On the Media. I’m Brooke Gladstone.

BOB GARFIELD: And I’m Bob Garfield. For 20 years, the State Department has issued two annual reports on terrorism – one, classified, to Congress, and one, bound and glossy, to the public. Apart from its pure information value, the Patterns of Global Terrorism report allowed successive administrations to justify their policies. But now, in the midst of the Bush administration’s war on terror, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has decided not to release the statistics for public review. That report would have cited the National Counterterrorism Center’s tally of 625 terrorist attacks worldwide last year, up from a previous high in 2003 of 175 attacks, raising questions about the success of the war. Jonathan Landay of Knight Ridder newspapers wrote about the cancellation of the terrorism report.

JONATHAN LANDAY: The official State Department rationale for this is that last year, on the recommendation of the independent 9/11 Commission, the Congress passed legislation that created a new entity called The National Counterterrorism Center. In fact, the center is actually a successor to a number of other animals of the same characteristic, part of whose job was to put together the actual data that would then go to the State Department, that the State Department would then use to put into this publication. The State Department’s explanation for its decision not to produce this kind of report any more is because now we’ve got this National Counterterrorism Center. It should be their job.

BOB GARFIELD: Which scans. Is there anything wrong with that argument?

JONATHAN LANDAY: Well, to some people, there’s a great deal wrong with that explanation. According to several intelligence community sources, Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst, who was the first person to actually detect this and write about it in a blog, which was brought to my attention, they believe that the decision to cancel this report was political, because you might have an instance where Secretary Rice comes out to present this report to the public, and a journalist puts their hand up and says – Now, Secretary Rice, the Bush administration is claiming that you are winning the war on terrorism, and yet, according to your own statistics, there’s been a major increase in terrorist attacks between 2003 and 2004. How do you explain this? And, according to these people, and others, the administration, Secretary Rice and her top people, decided that they just did not want to be faced with that kind of situation.

BOB GARFIELD: According to the statistics that the National Counterterrorism Center has provided, the 600-some number doesn’t even count any of the insurgent attacks in Iraq, which the administration explicitly describes as terrorism.

JONATHAN LANDAY: That’s absolutely true, and the other significant point of that is that almost 300 of those incidents are from the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir – terrorist attacks staged by Muslim extremist groups who are backed by Pakistan, which is supposedly a partner in the administration’s war on terrorism. So it doesn’t, to some people, look too kosher.

BOB GARFIELD: You’ve given explanations for why politics might have motivated Secretary Rice’s decision. Is there anyone, though, in the administration who has been able to mount any other kind of explanation that really makes sense?

JONATHAN LANDAY: Well, I’ve been told that there was some consternation over the, the methodology that went into putting together this data, because it was felt by some people at the State Department that the National Counterterrorism Center people were including in that count of major terrorist incidents, incidents that weren’t, in fact, terrorism. That is the only other explanation. But I, I have to say that I find that somewhat of a stretch, and I’ll tell you why. Because the methodology that was being used to put together the figures for 2004, I’ve been told, is exactly the same methodology that’s been used for all of the reports for as long as it’s been produced, as well as the fact that the analysts at the National Counterterrorism Center had spent a great deal of time poring over the figures, and then sat down in an inter-agency process with their State Department opposite numbers and went though incident by incident, to make sure there was agreement on what was a significant terrorist incident and what wasn’t. And so they had gone through the entire process when, abruptly, this decision was made to cancel the publication all together.

BOB GARFIELD: We can surmise about the secretary of state’s motivation in making this decision. Do you have any sources that weighed in on this that told you – oh, yes, absolutely I know because of departmental deliberations in fact that this was a face-saving move as opposed to a way to keep muddy statistics out of the public record?

JONATHAN LANDAY: Several sources said what happened was that when the data was presented to the State Department, there was such consternation over what the findings were that the State Department at a very senior level got in touch with very senior people over at the National Counterterrorism Center and said, well, we think you should use a different methodology that will bring down the number, whereupon, so these sources say, the senior people at the National Counterterrorism Center said no, we’re not going to do that. This is a good methodology. And, at that point, the decision was made to cancel the publication.

BOB GARFIELD: Well, Jonathan, once again, thank you very much.


BOB GARFIELD: Jonathan Landay covers national security issues for Knight Ridder.

copyright 2005 WNYC Radio

Terrorism statistics 1996-1999

Terrorism statistics


from the book

The No-Nonsense Guide toTerrorism

by Jonathan Barker, 2002


1996 1997 1998 1999
Africa 80 28 5,379 185
Asia 1,507 344 635 690
Eurasia 20 27 12 8
Latin America 18 11 195 9
Middle East 1,097 480 68 31
Western Europe 503 17 405 16
United States 0 7 0 0
World Total 3,225 914 6,694 939

 Other causes (United States only)

  1996 1997 1998 1999
Rabies Infectons 6,982 8,105 7,259 na
Road Traffic Deaaths 42,065 42,013 41,501 41,611
Pedestrian Deaths 5,449 5,321 5,228 4,906
Murder 19,650 18,210 16,970 15,530

Terrorism watch


Global Terrorism Statistics Released for 2004

“In 2004, deaths ascribed to terror acts worldwide amounted to 1,907 persons. ” (NCTC)

Global Terrorism Statistics Released

Clearinghouse Data Show Sharp Rise

By Susan B. Glasser

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 28, 2005; Page A07

The U.S. government released statistics yesterday documenting a dramatic increase in terrorist attacks last year and a death toll of close to 2,000 people around the globe, a disclosure made a week after the State Department said it would publish its congressionally mandated annual survey of international terrorism without the statistical portrait it has always included.

The numbers were provided instead by the government’s new clearinghouse for terrorism-related information, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), and included statistics documenting a sharp surge in significant terrorist acts from 175 incidents that killed 625 in 2003 to 651 such attacks that killed 1,907 in 2004. But senior officials said the threefold increase was a result of changes in methodology and urged reporters at a hastily called briefing not to compare this year’s terrorism numbers with previous ones. Congressional aides already had disclosed the increase in terrorist incidents to reporters Tuesday after a private briefing.

“The numbers can’t be compared in any meaningful way,” said John O. Brennan, acting head of the NCTC, which produced the statistics. He said his agency had revamped the process of counting terrorist attacks after last year’s embarrassment in which the State Department withdrew its first report and admitted it had significantly understated what turned out to be a record number of attacks. This year, Brennan said, 10 full-time intelligence analysts — up from three part-timers — searched for terrorist incidents to include, resulting in a much higher total than met the government’s criteria for classification as a “significant” attack.

Although the officials called the data seriously flawed, they said they put it out to avoid criticism that the State Department was trying to avoid admitting setbacks in the fight against terrorism by not publishing the data. “If we didn’t put out these numbers today, you’d say we’re withholding data. That’s why we’re putting them out,” said Philip D. Zelikow, counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Zelikow was executive director of last year’s commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The State Department also released its annual terrorism report earlier than planned — minus the statistics. It describes the evolution of al Qaeda into a “more local, less sophisticated but still lethal” threat to the United States, marking a change from the highly centralized terrorist group that struck the World Trade Center in 2001 to a looser amalgam of global affiliates. The report’s strongest words are reserved for Iran, which is dubbed the “most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2004” and criticized for failure to hand over or identify senior al Qaeda figures in custody there. Zelikow told reporters that at least one of those in Iranian custody had helped plan the Sept. 11 attacks.

The NCTC plans to release another report on incidents of global terrorism in June, to be available to the public at . The new database will show terrorist attacks not included under the old counting rules used by the State Department, Brennan said.

But a senior House Republican charged with overseeing the administration’s progress in attacking global terrorism said it did not make sense for the State Department to publish its annual terrorism report without the improved statistics. Rep. Christopher Shays (Conn.) wrote Rice that it “seems absurd to request data that could inform the report, then neither use nor include that data in the finished product.”

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), who had emerged as the chief critic of the State Department’s decision, praised the data release. But he said the sharp increase in terrorist attacks “can’t be explained away as a mere methodological artifact.”

5,362 deaths from terrorism worldwide between March 2004 and March 2005

"The cold statistics of a RAND Corp. database show the impact of the explosion of violence in Iraq: The 5,362 deaths from terrorism worldwide between March 2004 and March 2005 were almost double the total for the same 12-month period before the 2003 U.S. invasion."

[About  50,000-100,000 people die worldwide yearly of snake bites, approximaterly 10 times more than deaths from terrorist acts; about 16,000 people a year are murdered in the United States alone, about 1000 times more than U.S. nationals dying from terrorist acts:

On snake bite statistics, see] and

Experts fear ‘endless’ terror war

Analysts say al-Qaida is mutating into a global insurgency

Associated Press, 9 July 2005

New York and Washington. Bali, Riyadh, Istanbul, Madrid. And now London.

When will it end? Where will it all lead?

The experts aren’t encouraged. One prominent terrorism researcher sees the prospect of “endless? war. Adds the man who tracked Osama bin Laden for the CIA, “I don’t think it’s even started yet.”

In fact, says Michael Scheuer, the ex-CIA analyst, rather than move toward solutions, the United States took a big step backward by invading Iraq.

‘Self-sustaining’ jihad
Now, he said, “we’re at the point where jihad is self-sustaining,” where Islamic “holy warriors? in Iraq fight America with or without allegiance to al-Qaid bin Laden.

The cold statistics of a RAND Corp. database show the impact of the explosion of violence in Iraq: The 5,362 deaths from terrorism worldwide between March 2004 and March 2005 were almost double the total for the same 12-month period before the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Thursdax’s attacks on London’s transit system mirrored last year’s bombings of Madrid commuter trains, and both point to an al-Qaida evolving into a movement whose isolated leaders offer video or Internet inspiration ? but little more ? to local “jihadists? who carry out the strikes.

Although no arrests have been made in the London attacks, a group using al-Qaid name made a claim of responsibility, otherwise unconfirmed. Experts say the bombings bore hallmarks of al-Qaida.

The movement’s evolution “has given rise to a “virtual network” that is extremely adaptable,” said Jonathan Stevenson, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies? Washington office.

The movement adapted, for example, by switching from targeting aviation, where security was reinforced after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, to the “softer? targets of mass transit.

Such compartmentalized groupings, in touch electronically but with little central control, “are going to be a prototype for understanding where terrorist movements are going in the 21st century,” said the University of North Carolin Cynthia Combs, co-author of a terrorism encyclopedia.

Cycle of recruitment
Combs said the so-called Earth and Animal Liberation fronts in the United States are examples ? if less lethal ones ” of “leaderless? militant movements based on isolated cells. She also said it’s not unrealistic that another American example ? far-right “militia? cells ? might make common cause someday with foreign terrorists against the U.S. government.

Bruce Hoffman, the veteran RAND Corp. specialist who fears an “endless war,” dismisses talk of al-Qaid “back? having been “broken? by the capture of some leaders.

“From the terrorists? point of view, it seems they have calculated they need to do just one significant terrorist attack a year in another capital, and it regenerates the same fear and anxieties,” said Hoffman, who was an adviser to the U.S. occupation in Iraq.

What should be broken, he said, is the cycle of terrorist recruitment through the generations. “Here you come to the main challenge.”

He and most of the other half-dozen experts said the world’s richer powers must address “underlying causes? ? lessen the appeal of radicalism by improving economies, political rights and education in Arab and Muslim countries.

Combs cited bin Laden’s use of Afghanistan as his 1990s headquarters. “If we hadn’t been ignoring Afghanistan and instead offered real assistance, would it have become a base for bin Laden”? she asked.

‘Depressing’ outlook
Not all agree this is an answer. Stephen Sloan, another veteran scholar in the field, prescribes stoicism.

The American, British and other target publics must give their intelligence and police agencies time to close ranks globally and crush the challenge, said Sloan, of the University of Central Florida.

“The public has to have the resolve to face the reality there will be other incidents,” he said.

Scheuer, who headed the CIA?s bin Laden unit for nine years, sees a different way out ? through U.S. foreign policy. He said he resigned last November to expose the U.S. leadership?s “willful blindness? to what needs to be done: withdraw the U.S. military from the Mideast, end “unqualified support? for Israel, sever close ties to Arab oil-state “tyrannies.”

He acknowledged such actions aren’t likely soon, but said his longtime subject bin Laden will “make us bleed enough to get our attention.” Ultimately, he said, “his goal is to destroy the Arab monarchies.”

For James Kirkhope, the outlook is “depressing.”

His Washington consultancy, Terrorism Research Center, sometimes “red-teams? for U.S. authorities, playing a role in exercises, thinking like terrorist leaders. That thinking increasingly seems focused on a struggle for Islamic supremacy lasting hundreds of years, he said.

And for the moment they just “want to be kept on our radar screen,” Kirkhope said. For all the terror and carnage, he said, last week’s London attacks carried a simple message: “We’re still around.”