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Terrorism Deaths and Injuries by Ideology: Excluding the Outlier Attacks

Summary:
My recent blog post on the deaths and injuries caused by terrorists according to their motivating ideologies sheds some light on how frequent attacks like Charlottesville occur. I found that there were 3,350 total murders on U.S. soil caused by terrorists from 1992 through August 12, 2017. Of those, Islamists were responsible for 92 percent, Nationalist and Right Wing terrorists for about 7 percent, and Left Wing terrorists for less than one percent. The most common query after reading my post was: “What happens if you exclude deaths from the outlier attacks of 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing?”  I originally did not exclude the deaths in these outlier attacks in my first post because I merely sought to describe who was killed and by whom. In response to that common question, I

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My recent blog post on the deaths and injuries caused by terrorists according to their motivating ideologies sheds some light on how frequent attacks like Charlottesville occur. I found that there were 3,350 total murders on U.S. soil caused by terrorists from 1992 through August 12, 2017. Of those, Islamists were responsible for 92 percent, Nationalist and Right Wing terrorists for about 7 percent, and Left Wing terrorists for less than one percent. The most common query after reading my post was: “What happens if you exclude deaths from the outlier attacks of 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing?” 

I originally did not exclude the deaths in these outlier attacks in my first post because I merely sought to describe who was killed and by whom. In response to that common question, I decided to post the results that exclude the outlier 9/11 and Oklahoma City attacks. Doing so changes the ratio of murders by ideology but it does not change which terrorism-inspired ideologies are the deadliest.

Table 1 subtracts the 2,983 deaths and 14,842 injuries caused by Islamist terrorists on 9/11 and the 168 deaths and 650 injuries caused by a Nationalist/Right Wing terrorist in the Oklahoma City bombing. Excluding the outliers reduces the total number of deaths by 94 percent from 3,350 to 199. The number of injuries also falls by 89 percent. Just two attacks account for nearly all of the deaths and injuries, though 9/11 was the bigger contributor. After removing the outlier deaths and injuries, Islamist-inspired terrorists are responsible for 52 percent of the murders and 78 percent of the injuries. That is a decline from my original post where I included 9/11 and found that Islamists are responsible for 92 percent of deaths and 94 percent of injuries. The relative percentage of murders committed by Nationalist and Right Wing terrorists rises from about 7 percent in my original post to 30 percent when the 9/11 and the Oklahoma City attacks are excluded. The deaths by Left Wing terrorists also grow in importance from less than 1 percent to 10 percent. 

Table 1

Deaths and Injuries in Terrorist Attacks by the Ideology of the Attacker Excluding 9/11 and Oklahoma City, 1992-2017.

 

Deaths

Deaths%

Injuries

Injuries%

Islamist

103

52%

1,492

78%

Nationalist and Right Wing

60

30%

342

18%

Left Wing

19

10%

27

1%

Unknown/Other

17

9%

61

3%

Sources: Global Terrorism Database at the University of Maryland, RAND Corporation, ESRI, and author’s calculations.

Figure 1 shows that Islamist terrorists killed 103 people while Nationalists and Right Wing terrorists killed 60. The number killed by Left Wing and Unknown/Other terrorists remained unchanged at 19 and 17, respectively. The injuries also drop dramatically (Figure 2).

Figure 1

Deaths in Terrorist Attacks by the Ideology of the Attacker Excluding 9/11 and Oklahoma City, 1992-2017.

 Terrorism Deaths and Injuries by Ideology: Excluding the Outlier Attacks

Sources: Global Terrorism Database at the University of Maryland, RAND Corporation, ESRI, and author’s calculations.

Figure 2

Injuries in Terrorist Attacks by the Ideology of the Attacker Excluding 9/11 and Oklahoma City, 1992-2017.

Terrorism Deaths and Injuries by Ideology: Excluding the Outlier Attacks 

 Sources: Global Terrorism Database at the University of Maryland, RAND Corporation, ESRI, and author’s calculations.

Alex Nowrasteh

He is an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. His popular publications have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Washington Post, the Houston Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, and elsewhere. His academic publications have appeared in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, the Fletcher Security Review, and Public Choice.

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