Is the Islamic terrorism threat overblown?

Religion News Service reports:

After a car bomb detonated on Wall Street one minute past the noon lunch hour killing 38 people, federal investigators came up with a possible link to an overseas group.

Islamic terrorists?


No, Italian anarchists.

The year was 1920, and in those days anarchists were the equivalent of today’s terrorists, waging acts of mass destruction against Western capitalism.

Charles Kurzman, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, thinks the wave of 20th century anarchist violence bears a resemblance to the Islamic terrorism of the 21st century in one sense:

Neither resulted in a spiraling escalation of violence.

“In many ways,” said Kurzman, “Islamic terrorism is simply the latest form of transnational revolutionary violence to grab global attention.”

Put another way: This too shall pass.

While mindful of the pain and suffering terrorism has caused, Kurzman has written a book challenging the dominant narrative that worldwide terrorism is out of control.

In “The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists,” Kurzman argues that Islamic terrorism has accounted for a miniscule number of murders compared with violent death tolls from other causes.

In the United States, for example, fewer than 40 people died at the hands of terrorists in the 10 years since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

That compares with about 140,000 other murders during the same time.

The bad news, said Kurzman, is that Islamic terrorists really are out to kill Americans. The good news is there are very few of them. In fact, of the less than 40 killed at the hands of terrorists over the past decade, none were tied directly to al-Qaida. These include the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks, in which 10 people were killed in the Washington, D.C., area, and the 2009 Fort Hood shootings in which U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 14 people.

That count does not include the many failed terrorist bombings united by a common theme: Incompetence. Had these plots, such as the bungled 2010 Times Square car bomb, succeeded, the death toll would have been much higher.

The truth is, said Kurzman, the more terrorists kill, the less popular they become. That does not mean the world is safe from terrorism, and Kurzman cautions America may well see another horrific terrorist attack.

It does mean the U.S. government should examine the evidence and ratchet down the discourse, he said.

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3 thoughts on “Is the Islamic terrorism threat overblown?

  1. Norman

    Good case for a false flag operation to occur somewhere here in the U.S.A. Why not, it would take the heat off of wall street, give cover to Pentagon budget, along with covering those Congress people who went on the all expense paid junket to Israel. It would also give “O”, our war P.O.T.U.S., a boost towards reelection. Collateral damage I believe they call it. Just like 9/11 was. Desperate acts by desperate men.

  2. delia ruhe

    Well, if the Super-Committee is looking for cutable stuff, they might consider about 90 percent of Homeland Security — another $-toilet on permanent flush.

  3. scottindallas

    the FARC set off a bomb in Congress, and several others in the 90’s. We didn’t panic, or freak out.

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