November 24th, 2014
05:45 PM ET

How worried should we be about terrorism?

For more What in the World watch Sundays at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Global Public Square staff

Here on television news, we spend a lot of time and energy talking about terrorism. Last week began with video released of another gruesome murder of an American by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Then Tuesday, we saw the barbaric attacks in a synagogue in Jerusalem.

The new Global Terrorism Index shows that terrorism is indeed on the rise around the globe. The index was prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a non-partisan think tank that analyzed instances of terrorism across 162 countries between 2000 and 2013. It notes that since 2000, terrorism fatalities have increased five-fold, and in 2013 terror deaths were up by 61 percent from just the year before.

But let's delve a little deeper.

It turns out that in 2013, only five countries accounted for 82 percent of terrorism deaths – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. Not surprisingly, Iraq was the bloodiest country for terrorism in 2013, according to the report, as it has been for 9 of the last 10 years.

But it might be more accurate to think of these countries as war zones, and these deaths as part of civil wars, deep-rooted struggles for power. That's very different from terrorism attacks in otherwise peaceful countries. The report finds that only about 5 percent of terrorism deaths since 2000 happened in advanced industrial countries. And, over the last five years, a quarter of the deaths in those countries were at the hands of lone wolves – individuals with no terrorist group affiliation.

So, terrorist activity might be on the rise, but it is concentrated in a few places and undertaken by a few groups. The report pointed out that just four groups accounted for two-thirds of the deaths from terror last year. The top killers are, as you can imagine, ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban, and al Qaeda.

Now while much of the jihadist's hate speech is directed at the West, most of their victims are locals and Muslims. In fact, as an essay accompanying the index argues, most militant groups are actually in pursuit of "relatively limited goals in local or regional contexts." Even ISIS – perhaps the terror group that instills the most fear in the West today – does not seem to emphasize quote "totally abstract and utopian global goals," a sharp contrast to al Qaeda, according to the essay.

So how should we combat ISIS and other terror groups around the globe?

Consider this data from the Terrorism Report, which cites the Rand Corporation. Between 1968 and 2006, just 7 percent of terrorist organizations have been defeated through military action alone. So what has effectively quashed the vast majority of the terrorist groups that were defeated in that period?

Local intelligence and police breaking up the groups on the one hand and political engagement on the other. Either the key members of the group were arrested and killed or they were somehow integrated into the political process. That is likely how it will end even in Iraq and Syria – policing and political power sharing.

By the way, for even more perspective, according to the new Global Terrorism Index, an American is 64 times more likely to die by homicide than because of a terrorist attack, and, further, at least in 2012, a human being living anywhere in the world was 40 times more likely to be a victim of homicide than terrorism.

So if you want to get scared, fine, but get scared about the shooting next door – not the terrorist group halfway around the world.


soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. Ferhat Balkan

    War fuels terrorism. Every time we send soldiers and warplanes to wage war in a place we don't belong, we end up with more terrorism. Take Iraq for example. When Saddam was in power, there was no al-Qaeda, no ISIS etc. After the 2003 invasion all that changed. Israel bombed and killed more than 2100 civilians in Gaza of whom 495 were children and 253 were women and now they worry about terrorism? Of course they should be worried. Any time you start a war, you incite rebellion.

    November 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
    • df

      they cannot fight over here when they need all their troops over in the middle east. they have no way to attack except for some petty airplane high jack.

      November 24, 2014 at 10:12 pm |
  2. bobcat2u

    "How worried should we be about terrorism ?"

    Personally I don't hold that in my mind. I go about my life as I always have. That's the basis behind "terrorism". Once you succu mb to a threat, real or perceived, you have given those, who wish to terrorize, a victory. Live "your" life, not the one they are trying to form for you. Besides, if they gonna git ya, they gonna git ya. Watchgonnado ?

    November 24, 2014 at 7:26 pm |
    • banasy©

      If I were afraid of the things everyone said I should be afraid of, I'd never step foot out of my home.

      Fortunately, I do not look for trouble around every corner.

      You're right; how is that in any way truly living?

      November 24, 2014 at 7:59 pm |
      • bobcat2u

        It isn't living banasy. If you feel compelled to look over your shoulder all the time when you go out, why go out ? I never thought I would see the day when we had a country full of hand wringers. They are the ones letting these terrorists succeed.

        November 24, 2014 at 10:02 pm |
  3. Blue Saffron*

    Bull sh!t. Ferhat. The middle east hates us no matter what. Scr-ew those dirty rotten Muslims.

    November 24, 2014 at 7:26 pm |
    • df

      that's bullish it some of them like us. but we should not be over their. If you think we should be over their you do not understand politics

      November 24, 2014 at 10:19 pm |
  4. Herald

    Muslims? We don't want them here. We don't need any country music loving southern hillbillies either. Ship them all to Greenland.

    November 24, 2014 at 7:34 pm |
  5. chri§§y

    Smh! So say the bigoted racists of the world!

    November 24, 2014 at 7:52 pm |
  6. chri§§y

    Lol although @ Harold, i gotta agree about that goat ropin music!!! Lmao

    November 24, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
    • df

      so you are going to call someone racist and then turn around and make a racist remark yourself. you sound like a racist as well

      November 24, 2014 at 10:22 pm |
  7. chri§§y

    True @ banasy...my grams always said "dont borrow trouble, trust what you know" and it took me a long time to realize just how right she was.

    November 24, 2014 at 9:48 pm |
    • bobcat2u

      I like that saying. Old people know what they're talking about, and if you have any kind of sense, you heed that wisdom. People today don't seem to have the street sense like we were raised with. I made sure I passed that knowledge on to my daughter, but unfortunately she didn't pass it on to hers. That's where Mimi and Pappy come. When we have her during the summer, we pass on some of that knowledge.

      November 24, 2014 at 10:10 pm |
      • df

        stick to the topic I would like to no what your opinion is not about how street smart you are.

        November 24, 2014 at 10:16 pm |
    • df

      why don't you go get an education

      November 24, 2014 at 10:14 pm |
      • banasy©

        Excuse me, but you're hardly one to talk about education when you cannot differentiate between 'their' and 'there', or 'too' and 'to.'

        November 24, 2014 at 11:18 pm |
  8. df

    I do not think they are as big of threat as the media and senator MC Cain make them out to be they have no navy, no air force, all they have is a bunch of weapons they got from us and A bunch of petty thugs financing them. I mean come do we really need to be spending money we do not have in a war that will never end their will always be people killing people. Also the politicians label anybody a terrorist that doesn't see things their way and they are speaking for the people of the U.S. when not all the citizens agree with them.

    November 24, 2014 at 10:08 pm |
  9. chri§§y

    Lol oh i know @ bobcat...and then theres the *ahem* wisdom they give us back huh? Ill remind you in case you forgot "talk to the booty, cuz the hands off duty" lmao! Aint bein a grandparent fun?? Lol

    November 24, 2014 at 10:17 pm |
  10. chri§§y

    And @ df...talk to the booty etc!

    November 24, 2014 at 10:25 pm |
    • df

      to bad you are so stupid

      November 24, 2014 at 10:36 pm |
    • df

      lets stop the name calling we are all adults just because someone acts racist don't mean you have to get pulled into and be negative back

      November 24, 2014 at 10:40 pm |
      • banasy©

        This is especially funny, coming right after you told her "to [sic] bad you are so stupid"

        November 24, 2014 at 11:23 pm |
  11. chri§§y

    @ df...No i dont think we should be over there. Ive thought for many years that we shouldnt be over there! And i despise the tactics that certain warmongering idiots in congress use trying to scare the citizens of this country into believing we are in jeopardy! All so they can fatten their bank accounts. Borrowing trouble is when you get so paranoid you think these terrorists are lurking around the corner, when in reality they are no where close!

    November 24, 2014 at 10:35 pm |
    • df

      yes they are doing it for money they will never fix the middle east

      November 24, 2014 at 10:44 pm |
  12. chri§§y

    What racist remark? I didnt make a racist remark. WTH are you talking about?

    November 24, 2014 at 10:41 pm |
    • df

      you said goat roper.

      November 24, 2014 at 10:44 pm |
    • df

      I have a lot of friends from different cultures, and they are good peoples

      November 24, 2014 at 10:48 pm |
      • rupert

        U have no friends, df. U are just one lonely pathetic troll.
        U are as wortless as a mother like yours can bear.
        Chrissy. Fukk u too

        November 24, 2014 at 11:30 pm |
    • df

      God bless you.

      November 24, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
  13. chri§§y

    Its not OUR place to FIX the middle east! We cant "fix" our own country! Well we might be able too if we tried but...we get these idiots in congress that just wanta go to war every where! They dont give a damn what the citizens want, their interest is their special interest groups and their own bank accounts!

    November 24, 2014 at 10:49 pm |
  14. chri§§y

    Lol @ df...goat ropin music is country music! And i live on the outskirts of the largest arabic community in the US and have many muslim friends. In fact my best friend Zinnah, is the one i learned that from. Lol

    November 24, 2014 at 10:54 pm |
    • rupert

      Arabs suk. Zinnah suks. She is here cuz the middle east suks.
      Tell that fur ball that immigration is looking to deport her.
      The sli me

      November 24, 2014 at 11:39 pm |
  15. chri§§y

    Lol @ df, i read your posts to her just now and she is laughing but said to tell you thank you for your respect and concern for her people!

    November 24, 2014 at 11:03 pm |
  16. rupert

    Cnn come on. Thats no "protest" in Missouri. Bunch of nig gers just looting.
    Bunch of d am nappy holes. Look at those torn up stores.
    Any excuse to loot and steal I guess
    And for what? Some cop taking care of a young criminal. Just one less pile of trash to use up tax money in prison.
    Give me a break

    November 24, 2014 at 11:05 pm |
  17. rupert

    Look at that. Bunch of G.O.D. da m hoods.they don't have jobs. On welfare or sell dope in the ghetto.that's why they have the time.
    What a disgrace.

    November 24, 2014 at 11:09 pm |
  18. rupert

    @df. U sound like a negga. Why aren't u out selling dope or looting in Ferguson?
    Boy

    November 24, 2014 at 11:11 pm |
  19. rupert

    "Good peoples" df, u must be a nig ger.

    November 24, 2014 at 11:12 pm |
  20. chri§§y

    Shut up @ rupert!

    November 24, 2014 at 11:16 pm |
  21. chri§§y

    Bet you would sing a different tune if it were black cops shooting unarmed white teenagers wouldnt you?

    November 24, 2014 at 11:20 pm |
  22. chri§§y

    Racial profiling is a very big problem, still, in this country! Thats not something to be proud of it all!

    November 24, 2014 at 11:22 pm |
  23. chri§§y

    Meant "at" all not it all.

    November 24, 2014 at 11:25 pm |
  24. rupert

    First, I HATE teenagers.
    Second, if the white teenagers were as bad as the black kid that was shot, I would give those black cops a party.
    U got that moron!
    It's not about race. Its about who u are and what u do.
    Get that straigt. Idiot!

    November 24, 2014 at 11:28 pm |
    • Ferhat Balkan

      I was disappointed in the grand jury decision. To be honest, the real problem is excessive force. Too many kids are dying as a result of excessive force used by the Police. The fatal shot that killed Michael Brown was (according to evidence) fired some 30ft away. I fail to see how a teenage boy some 30ft away who is unarmed poses a threat to a police officer. Just a few days ago a 12 year old boy with a toy gun was shot and killed in Cleveland. There's something fundamentally wrong with the way Police respond to potential threats and that's excessive force.

      November 24, 2014 at 11:58 pm |
      • Tori

        I too was shocked by the grand jury decision. Mr. Brown was at least 30 ft away. The incident in Cleveland was horrific. The rioting and looting is of course wrong. What are we to do? Speak out when we see a wrong.

        November 25, 2014 at 12:14 am |
      • rupert

        Lol. "Mr Brown?" No. He had just assulted a store clerk half his size. He was a bully and a future violent criminal.
        I am glad that mr. Wilson was treated fairly for doing his job. The kid got what he deserved.
        Get real tori. "Mr?" To a thug?
        This political correctness cr@p is getting wayyyyy out of hand

        November 25, 2014 at 12:24 am |
  25. rupert

    Come on chrissy. Don't lie. U hate extreme hypocrites that loot in the name of some B/S reason. No matter what the race.
    If u had a bunch of irish people looting for a fake reason u would hate them too.
    At least im honest.

    November 24, 2014 at 11:34 pm |
  26. rupert

    Hi zinnah. I have something for u

    _1_
    The bird.
    Haaaaaheeeeehaaa. Lol

    November 24, 2014 at 11:40 pm |
  27. rupert

    Blue Saffron. Fukk u too. Stay out of America.

    November 24, 2014 at 11:43 pm |
  28. chri§§y

    Youre right @ rupert...i DO hate extreme hypocrits! And you are quickly sliding into that category! Also i dont like STEALING of any kind! Another part of the hypocrisy that YOU are a part of! And i especially HATE racist ass holes like YOU! S T F U already!

    November 24, 2014 at 11:45 pm |
  29. rupert

    Blah blah blah.
    U self rightous p.I.g.

    November 24, 2014 at 11:51 pm |
  30. rupert

    "Oink. Oink" said chrissy.
    Translation: I know it all. Or act as if I do.

    November 24, 2014 at 11:53 pm |
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