Monday, November 23, 2015

Mass Casualty Terrorist Attacks: Muslims 238, Jews 2, Sikhs 1, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus 0

2014 Peshawar School Massacre. 132 children murdered.

I just spent a few hours doing a morbid study. But I think it is useful. The truth matters.

Before going into detail, I'm going to present my conclusions. See below as to how I arrived at them.

In the last approximately one-hundred years there have been 328 recorded mass casualty terrorist attacks--terrorist attacks that killed ten or more people. They fall into three broad categories--nationalist or separatist (anything from the IRA to the Tamil Tigers), political (across the spectrum from Maoist to Neo-Fascist groups) and explicitly religious. Even not counting the separatist groups that are arguably largely religious in motivation---such as the Chechens and the Palestinians--religious attacks have made up 75% of the total. Out of those, 99% have been committed by Muslims.

It gets worse. 246 or three-quarters of these attacks have occurred in the twenty-first century. 85% of those (or 92% if you include the increasingly religiously framed Chechen and Palestinian incidents) have been religious in nature. 100% of these were committed by Muslims.

So, it's true as far as it goes to say that in living memory, religion has been the prime-motivator for mass casualty terrorism. But by religion we then mean, almost exclusively, the religion of Islam.

It's not true to say that, at least as far as the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are concerned, all religions are prone to it, or that the main problem is "extremists" of all religions. The numbers show that this, to put it even more plainly, is a lie. No Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists Sikhs, Zoroastrians or any other non-Muslim religious have executed a mass casualty terrorist attack in the twenty-first century. In the twentieth century there were perhaps as many as 3 attacks by non-Muslim actors, as opposed to over 200 such attacks my Muslims.

Mass casualty terrorism is a largely Muslim phenomenon. Considering religious groups only, it is almost exclusively Muslim.

Here's a step-by-step review of the analysis:

Wikipedia provides a comprehensive list of terrorist attacks in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Each listing gives the number known or estimated killed, the accepted name of the attack, the group responsible, the location and the date.

By the way, if after further reading, you feel that my analysis is faulty, please go to the link and check the data.

The list begins with the early twentieth century Los Angeles Times bombing:
21, Los Angeles Times bombing, Militant Trade Unionism, United States, Los Angeles, 1910.
It ends (as of a few days ago) with the Paris Attacks:
137, November 2015 Paris Attacks, Jihadism, France, Paris, 2015
There are of course hundreds of listings. I decided to do an analysis of what I would term "mass casualty" attacks--attacks that killed 10 or more people. I did this partly for methodological reasons. The larger the attack, the more likely it is for the identity and claimed motivation of the attacker to be known, and the more likely that the attack was obviously terroristic in nature--involving planning, multiple parties, etc.--as opposed to quasi-personal.

I wanted to ask what proportion of these attacks were perpetrated by Muslims or by others with religious motivations? How many were "right-wing" vs. "left-wing"? And so on.

But first a few words on Wikipedia's implicit methodology of classifying an incident as "terrorism". On the main, only non-state incidents generally undertaken with the specific purpose of sowing terror were included, not, say, atrocities committed by one side or another in declared wars. Nor were ethnic massacres or casualties caused by riots or the suppression of protests included, nor small or large scale human rights violations by governments, nor mass-murders such as American or European school shootings where there was no declared political or religious motive. A few cases of state-sponsored terrorism such as the bombing of Pan Am 103 and at least one extra-territorial bombing alleged to have been directed by North Korea did make it on to the list.

Obviously that leaves out a greater part of the evil committed by men in the 20th and 21st centuries. But the point was not to do a general analysis of evil, but of terrorism as commonly defined or understood.

We are left with 328 incidents, some infamous but many of which are relatively unknown or now almost forgotten. The list includes a few (though surprisingly only a few) attacks by anarchists or trade-unionists, attacks by political groups such as Maoists (left-wing) or anti-Castro groups (right-wing), attacks by various separatists and nationalists such as the Tamil Tigers, bizarre outliers such as the Aum Shinrikyo Tokyo poison gas attacks and of course attacks my Islamists.

I sorted the attacks into eleven categories:
  • Chechen/Palestinian 
  • Criminal (Columbian drug cartel bombings aimed at creating terror)
  • Cult (Aum Shinrikyo)
  • Jewish (The King David Hotel bombing and the Kahanist Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre)
  • Left-wing (anarchists, non-nationalist communists, Shining Path)
  • Muslim (All Jihadist attacks not including attacks by Palestinians or Chechens)
  • Right-Wing (Anti-Castro groups, Czech and Italian Neo-Fascists, Militia movement, anti-insurgent paramilitaries)
  • Separatists/Nationalists (IRA and Ulster Loyalists, Tamil Tigers, Basque and Kurdish Nationalists)
  • Sikh (Air India Flight 182)
  • State sponsored (Libya and North Korea bombings)
  • Unknown
There is no Christian, Buddhist or Hindu category because there were no attacks that appeared to be primarily motivated by Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism. Remember, this doesn't necessarily mean that there have been no such attacks, only no such attacks that killed 10 or more people. By the way, I don't think anything should be read into the fact that, say, Jews have 2 attacks and Christians have 0. At those levels--0, 1 or 2 attacks in 100 years--the numbers are statistically insignificant. The basic point is that with the obvious exception of Islam, religiously motivated mass casualty terrorist attacks are extremely rare.

I know some will argue that the Northern Ireland conflict was religious in nature. I view it more as quasi-ethnic or nationalist. Among other things, you didn't see the Irish Republican Army using the Bible or Catholic theology to justify its cause. Indeed, much of the IRA was Marxist or quasi-Marxist. I know some people may disagree with me on this.

Separatist and nationalist movements often have a religious and more general political element--usually left-wing but not always--but I generally categorized them as separatists/nationalists. I gave the Chechens and Palestinians their own category because even though I believe their character is defined by Islam, I didn't want to initially enshrine that perhaps controversial assumption into the data.

Here are the full results:

Since 1910: 328 total attacks

Muslim: 238, 73%
Chechen/Palestinian: 29, 9%
Separatists/Nationalists: 22, 7%
Right-Wing: 13, 4%
Left-wing: 9, 3%
Unknown: 9, 3%
Criminal: 3, 1%
Jewish: 2, 1%
Cult: 1, 0%
Sikh: 1, 0%
State sponsored: 1, 0%

Since 2001: 246 total attacks

Muslim: 208, 85%
Chechen/Palestinian: 19, 8%
Separatists/Nationalists: 6, 2%
Unknown: 6, 2%
Left-wing: 3, 1%
Right-Wing: 3, 1%
Criminal : 1, 0%
Cult: 0
Jewish: 0
Sikh: 0
State sponsored: 0

These numbers are of course damning for the "religion of peace" and all those who collaborate in pushing the narrative that Islam is not a violent religion or at least that it is no more violent than any other religion.

Off the top of my head I can think of at least five possible objections the pro-Muslim diehards might make. But I see no profit in answering them here. If after all this, one still wants to maintain the "religion of peace" line, one is, for whatever reason, immune to all evidence and rational discourse.

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