No you’re not more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than an Islamic terrorist

AEREO Magazine, by Damion Daniels, May 28, 2017:

On 22nd May, 2017, a 22 year old jihadist named Salman Ramadan Abedi wandered into the Manchester Arena during a concert populated primarily by young teens and their parents, and detonated a suicide bomb, killing 22 people including an 8 year old girl, and injuring approximately 120 others. This was the deadliest terror attack on U.K. soil since a group of jihadists murdered 52 commuters in the London transport attacks of 2005.

We are often told that in the wake of a large scale atrocity of this kind, we should defy the terrorists by simply carrying on as normal. Well, it just so happens that what I would normally be doing is writing about Islamic terrorism and berating the apologists who shamefully obfuscate the issue. Which is exactly what I intend to do now.

The fact that the two deadliest attacks upon the U.K. in recent memory were at the hands of Islamic terrorists is not simply pub trivia. I mention it because when these apologists for Islam get bored of claiming that jihadists are incessantly and inexplicably lying about their religious motivations, they invariably engage in the crass exercise of throwing around skewed data in a desperate attempt to deemphasize the danger posed by Islamic terror. As far as I can tell, this is not due to some well-meaning concern for people worrying unnecessarily, or to ensure that counter terrorism strategy is accurately focused upon the most serious threat, it seems rather to be a tactical attempt to prioritize the protection of odious 7th century folklore over the welfare of real human beings.

In the not uncommon event of an Islamic lunatic slaughtering a crowd of innocent people, Americentric articles and tweets lying about the likelihood of this happening to you, instantaneously begin to surface, like gunk from the ocean floor after a depth charge detonation.

Each of these claims are variations on the assertion that right-wing or far-right terrorism poses a greater danger than Islamic terrorism, and they are based on several studies which attempt to make the same claims.

Since the attacks on September 11, 2001, nearly twice as many Americans have been killed by non-Muslim extremists than by jihadists,

insists this MSNBC article based on this report by research center New America.

I understand that a deconstruction of statistics may read as a little sterile and dispassionate, but I think it’s important to nip this particular line of obscurantism in the bud once and for all. And disappointingly, I’ve noticed that some high profile secularists and liberal atheists also appear to have been taken in by this propaganda which contains a multitude of errors and inconsistencies resulting in inaccurate figures and starkly misleading conclusions. For instance; the MSNBC article referenced above was published in the summer of 2015. And whilst the information contained within it is frozen at this point in time, the source report that it cites is not. The report has since been updated, and so anyone citing the article now, is citing statistics that do not include the 49 Orlando clubbers murdered the following year by ISIS inspired gunman Omar Mateen in the deadliest mass shooting in American history. The updated statistics which now include this attack, along with other attacks in 2016, show that deaths from jihadist terror attacks in the U.S. are now almost double those attributable to far-right terrorists.

What’s more, this very same study that is routinely cited in order to downplay the threat of jihadism, shows not only that jihadists have claimed more fatalities in the U.S., but also that “most U.S. attacks are also carried out by individuals inspired by jihadism.”

The practice of quoting outdated figures to further a false narrative is sloppy in some cases and outright disingenuous in others, but even when using the most up-to-date figures, there are a number of issues with the actual dataset this report relies on which further skew the statistics towards downplaying the Islamic threat. As John Sexton of Breitbart notes, the numbers here ostensibly focus on the threat to Americans, but do not take Americans killed abroad by Islamic terrorists into account. The beheading of Daniel Pearl by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 7 Americans killed in the 2002 Bali Bombing, the 6 Americans killed in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the 4 Americans killed in the 2016 Brussels bombings, the American killed in the Zamboanga City bombing, the American killed in the 2015 Bamako hotel attack, the 22 year old American student killed in the 2015 Paris attacks, for example, are all absent from these figures. Nor do the figures take into account the number of Islamic plots foiled as a result of the asymmetric counter-terrorism focus placed upon jihadism as a result of 9/11. As former counter-terrorism analyst Daryl Johnson acknowledges:

The U.S. government currently employs hundreds of analysts focused on Islamic extremism, but only a couple dozen who monitor domestic terror.

Fortunately I didn’t need to undertake a great deal of arduous research to find this quote. Why? Because it’s mentioned in the very same MSNBC article that is routinely circulated as proof that Islamic terrorism is essentially a non-issue in comparison to “far-right” terrorism.

The lopsidedness of this report is also evident in the fact that, according to the article, it treats terrorists with an Islamist agenda as one dataset, and compares it to terrorists with a white supremacist agenda, terrorists with an anti-government agenda, and terrorist with a fundamentalist Christian agenda, by treating all three non-Islamic motivations as one dataset. This is not an apples to apples comparison. This is an apples to fruit bowl comparison.

But surely the most blatant and deliberate skewing of the numbers here is in the fact that the biggest terror attack in the history of the United States is discounted by beginning the tally on 12th September 2001. Florida State College Professor Andrew Holt issued a thorough debunking of this report and the methods it uses. In it he points out that if one were to start the clock a day earlier and therefore include the approximately three thousand innocent lives taken on 9/11, then “there have been around 62 people killed in the United States by Islamic extremists for every one American killed by a right wing terrorist.”

Read more (h/t Kyle Shideler)

Damion Daniels is a writer focusing on religion, secularism, and free expression with an emphasis on Islam and Islamic fundamentalism. You can connect with him on Twitter @concretemilk