Misleading View of Terrorism


Verified SOF
Jan 15, 2008

The article makes a valid point. I do have an issue with the comment underneath.

9-11 Creates "Misleading View of Terrorism," Expert Says
By Matthew Harwood
05/28/2009 -
The events of 9-11 are the quintessential example of the high-cost, low probability event. But the images from that day have clouded the ability of Americans to calmly weigh the risks of terrorism, according to a study reported by The Washington Times.
The study from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), based at the University of Maryland and primarily funded by the Department of Homeland Security, analyzed over 80,000 attacks from 1970 to 2007. Of those attacks, only 1,350 attacks, or 1.6 percent, hit American targets—mostly overseas.
That small percentage plummets to 0.08 percent when attacks on domestic targets are calculated. The Times has more:
Regardless of public perceptions, the START researchers deal only with hard numbers, and they found that there have been 25 terrorist attacks against American religious figures or institutions and 38 terrorist attacks against military targets in the United States since 1970.
The analysis also found that of 53 foreign terrorist groups judged to be "the most dangerous to the U.S.," 97 percent of their attacks were not on American soil.
"Unlike 9/11, most terrorist attacks in the U.S. and elsewhere are from domestic groups, not international ones," Mr. LaFree said. "Unlike 9/11, most terrorist attacks include few if any fatalities. Unlike 9/11, most attacks do not involve in-depth planning or sophisticated weaponry. Unlike al Qaeda, most terrorist groups are not long-lasting."
Gary LaFree, director of START, told the Times that 9-11 created a conceptual problem for the United States because one very big, audacious, and deadly terrorist attack has become synonymous with all terrorist attacks.
"f we consider [9-11] to be typical of terrorist attacks, we will have a very misleading view of terrorism," he said.
Good link QC. Thank you.
I would be interested in the actual number of American lives lost/wounded/destroyed (worldwide) since the 1970 study began. Then compare that number to the number lost/wounded/destroyed from narco-terror related incidents during that same timeframe.
That's a "beauty" of terrorism: what will their next attack be? Where? How?

We have to guard against all threats because of the ambiguous nature of terrorism. I think sometimes the American people have forgotten that. So we can't discount the next possible 9/11 and we can't ignore that the most likely attack will be against one of us overseas or maybe a soft target here in the States.
The main goal of Terrorism is to upset the general populace of an area, to create fear, distrust of the ability of the government to protect citizens, and speed up the breakdown of social groupings.

This demands that tactics change and timetables are 'random' - to create the most disruption.

We have been in a lull since 9-11, thus giving the sheeple a false sense of security - I think something is brewing, a bunch of smaller coordinated attacks or possibly another very large attack.

I still think a bio weapon or suitcase nuke is in our future. Or at least an attempt at a coordinated cyberattack targeting infrastructure. With regard to the first two, there are just too many of the componants in the wrong hands now to discount the possibility. As to the latter, the question is how effective would it be.
There's always the possibility of another big one. But IMO the counter methods that have been employed in the past are now working overtime and seem to be doing ok. One only has to look at how many plots and AQ affiliates that are alleged to be in the UK.
To expand a bit on Ari's query, there are more people killed by other means, cars, shootings etc. than an act of terrorism. The difference is that the decision to drive a car is one which the individual has some control over. To be blown up on the 7:45 to Central Station is out of your control so naturally it's more of a problem. But I hope you guys are wrong. No-one wants to see another big one.
Check out the Baader Meinhoff Complex. It's interesting as that merry troupe parallels the modern day guys. I'm not sure if that was the intention of the film makers but it's interesting.
The basic rule : avoid of all patterns. The only rule is no rules. May it sound paranoid but it's only rule that really works..

I don't understand the point of this article. Is it that 9/11 is a rare event, or that we're concentrating too much on preventing 9/11 style attacks? The only reason these are "low-probability" events is because of the efforts of the hundreds of thousands of dedicated men and women who actively work to prevent them.

Does anyone doubt for one second that any number of bad actors, including al Qaeda, would do something even bigger than 9/11 in a heartbeat if they could? Capability + intent = threat. All kinds of intent is there, just watch the news, read the paper or go online. The countermeasures in place mitigate the enemy capability and therefore the threat. If we let up on preventative measures, these events would not be "low-probability" for long.
We have been in a lull since 9-11, thus giving the sheeple a false sense of security - I think something is brewing, a bunch of smaller coordinated attacks or possibly another very large attack.
I agree. I keep thinking about how it was eight years from the first attack on the WTC to the second one that brought the towers down. We are dealing with a very intelligent and patient enemy who only has to be right once; while the defenders of us all have to be right every single time. I am also concerned about a Beslan type attack on our schools. It would create a tremendous amount of mayhem and subsequent fear; and provide a major disruption to our society and its function.