Friday, January 30, 2015

Americans' Overreaction to Islamic Terrorism

Defense One has a must-read piece on our over-sized reaction to the Islamic terrorist threat:
In fact, Muslims account for only a small percentage of the terrorism in Europe over the last several years. Most politically-motivated violence there is carried out by nationalist and sectarian groups, yet the government and the media don’t treat these threats the same. Anders Breivik killed 77 people in separate gun and bomb attacks in 2011, including many children. Many people in Europe share Breivik’s xenophobic, ultra-nationalist, anti-Muslim ideology, but we don’t hold them collectively responsible for his decision to employ violence to further those views. We don’t call for a war on his beliefs; we demand his criminal prosecution.
A similar phenomenon occurs here in the United States, where most media outlets covered the distant Paris attacks far more closely than domestic shooting sprees by white supremacist Fraizer Glenn Miller, or anti-government extremists like Curtis Wade Holley, Eric Frein, and Jerad Miller, who assassinated four police officers in separate instances last year.
The Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point documented 3,053 injuries and 670 fatalities in the United States from far right violence from 1990 to 2012. A 2014 University of Maryland survey indicates U.S. law enforcement now view Sovereign Citizens as the greatest terror threat they face. Yet the federal government effectively treats these acts of politically-motivated violence as hate crimes or lone attacks rather than terrorism. This may explain why an attempted firebombing at a Colorado NAACP office building the day before the Paris attacks received little media attention.....
Deaths attributable to terrorism here in the U.S. are a tiny fraction of the roughly 14,000 homicides committed each year, one-third of which go unsolved. Yet we devote far more resources to uncovering potential terrorists than to finding actual killers. The purpose of putting terrorist acts in context is to better understand how we might respond in a more effective manner.
The second prevalent theme in the early coverage of the Paris attacks was the tendency to exaggerate the capabilities of Muslim extremists. With very little information available — save a brief video showing the execution of a wounded police officer — many counterterrorism officials and policy makers didn’t hesitate to call it a “sophisticated” attack that represented a new and “more complex” threat. The FBI and DHS backed this description in a law enforcement bulletin, claiming the Paris attacks “demonstrated a greater degree of sophistication and advanced weapons handling than seen in previous coordinated small-arms attacks, such as the 2013 Westgate Mall attack” in Nairobi, Kenya. The Somali militant group al-Shabaab claimed credit for the armed assault on Westgate Mall, which killed sixty-seven people. Details regarding the attack and whether some perpetrators escaped are still mired in controversy.
The facts don’t support the hasty conclusion that the Paris attack was as sophisticated as originally claimed. While one or both of the Kouachi brothers may have travelled to Yemen and received some training from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, their attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices was almost derailed because they went to the wrong address. They had to ask a maintenance man for directions. They caught a lucky break by finding an employee outside the office who they forced to punch the code necessary to enter the building. After the shooting, they crashed their escape vehicle and left identification papers behind when they abandoned it.
Co-conspirator Amedy Coulibaly’s spree appeared even less organized, shooting a police officer, a street sweeper and a jogger before storming the kosher supermarket. The weapons Coulibaly and the Kouachi’s used weren’t financed or provided by organized terrorist groups, but purchased from a known criminal for less than 5,000 euros, which Coulibaly obtained through a fraudulent bank loan.
They did succeed at killing 17 people, which is tragic. But spree shooters here in the United States racked up similar death tolls, in some cases before graduating high school, or saddled with serious mental illnesses. It doesn’t take sophisticated training to pick up a gun and kill lots of unarmed people.
Yes. Yes.  A thousand times, yes.  We face dozens of more likely ways to die every day, but for some reason, people really freak out if Muslims kill some people, somewhere around the world, sometime.  I don't get it.  Well, I suspect that many Christians fear Muslim terrorism as part of some kind of Holy War, and Israelis have their own reasons for making a stink about the attacks, but I see absolutely no reason why anybody would think this minuscule threat to American lives is worth spending trillions of dollars, thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of non-American lives, and having a crazy police state apparatus record every phone call and email and web search around the world in order to "protect our freedoms."  Our freedoms (whatever those amount to in a surveillance state) are not under threat from those scary Muslims.  They are under threat from our government and our cowardly reaction to sporadic incidents of violence committed by Muslims.

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