Is there any objective way to know how significant Islamic Jihadist attacks against innocent people really are?
The answer is: very significant indeed. Most of the world’s deadliest terrorist attacks have been carried out by Islamic Jihadists explicitly murdering people for religious reasons. Although this conclusion may seem self-evident to most readers at the present time, there is also a very visible tendency among leftists and apologists for Islam to deny or play down the Islamic role in international terrorism.
Of course, many terrorist attacks have been carried out by other organised groups and by lone-wolf operators, but the majority of the world’s terrorist attacks have been carried out by specifically Islamic groups motivated by the Islamic religion, or their version of it.
Since the Second World War there have been nineteen terrorist attacks in which 250 or more people have been killed. This is an enormous number, more than twice as many as were murdered in the recent Paris massacres, which traumatized the whole world. Of these nineteen, eleven were by Islamic terrorist groups.
Many of these slaughters received virtually no publicity in the West and were carried out in remote Third World war zones where there are few Western reporters. The deadliest Islamic organised act of terror was, unsurprisingly, the 9/11 hijackings in 2001, in which 2996 people were killed by Bin-Laden’s followers.
The second deadliest, however, was the 2007 bombings of Yazidi communities in Iraq, in which 796 people died. Deadly attacks on this list by Islamic terrorists were also carried out in Iraq, Algeria, Beirut, and Nigeria, along with the cinema fire in Iran in 1978 (422 deaths) that led to the Khomeni revolution; the bombings of apartments in Moscow in 199 by Jihadists (293 dead); and the Mumbai bombings of 1993 (257 dead).
The deadliest terrorist attack not carried out by Islamic Jihadists was the massacre of 773 Sri Lankan policemen by Tamil separatists in 1990, and a massacre in Colombia in the same year by a paramilitary group in which 400 died.
Among the others, however, was massacre of schoolchildren in Belsan, North Ossetia, Russia in 2004 by Chechen extremists, in which 334 died. Most Chechens are Muslims, many now influenced by an extremist Islamic ideology, although the main motivating factor in Chechen extremism was their appalling treatment by Stalin during the Second World War, when hundreds of thousands were deported to Siberia as likely to be pro-German.
Also among these eight was the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988 (270 dead) by Libyans, which has obvious elements of Jihadism in it, although the full truth about it may never be known.
Among the sixty terrorist attacks around the world in recent decades in which “only” 100- 249 people were killed, forty were carried out by Jihadists. Included here are the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa; the 2002 Bali bombings in which Australians were killed; the 2004 Madrid train bombings; and the recent Paris attacks.
Of the remaining twenty terrorist massacres included here, four were carried out by Tamils and three by Chechens, with the remaining by a wide variety of extremist groups, almost always in the Third World. Most of the Jihadist attacks were also carried out throughout the Islamic world against other Muslims (as well as Christians and anyone else), and may have received three seconds of mention on SBS World News, if that. Jihadist massacres in the Third World are so commonplace as to be virtually ignored.
These statistics, if anything, understate the evil and propensity to killing of Islamic Jihadists. They do not, for instance, fully report on ISIS’s barbaric and sadistic murders, many of which were carried out in territory controlled by the “death cult” and beyond the reach of Western reportage.
They also in all likelihood fully report on killings carried out by Islamic governments, for instance in Yemen or Saudi Arabia, often dressed up as quasi-judicial in nature. Most importantly, they can by definition not include killings that were prevented from occurring.
Since 9/11, fourteen years ago, all Western governments have created a vast and presumably competent infrastructure of enhanced security measures, which have, in all likelihood, prevented thousands of killings in the Western world by Jihadists. As a result of 9/11, for instance, the United States created an entire Cabinet Department which did not previously exist, the Department of Homeland Security, which, it is reasonable to conclude, has prevented dozens of massacres, some of which may have rivalled 9/11.
Israel’s Security Wall in the West Bank, however controversial it may be, has been in part responsible for a decrease in the number of murders of Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists from dozens to virtually zero. Even in remote Australia, all Jewish day schools, synagogues, and major institutions are protected by uniformed security men, some of whom are now armed, who were not in place before the recent past.
Islamic terrorism represents a clear and present danger to Western democracy (and, in particular, to Jews), and it is absolutely right that it be suppressed by any means necessary.
Bill Rubinstein taught at Deakin University and at the University of Wales.