Rewind fifty or a hundred years and it was communists, anarchists, fascists, and others who thought than any means justified their glorious ends. Even now, Islamists are by no means the sole perpetrators. The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka and Colombia’s “narcoterrorists” blow up civilians and have nothing to do with Islam. In the United States, law enforcement considers the “sovereign citizens movement” to be a greater threat than Islamist terrorists. However, Islamists do commit most of the terrorism globally these days.
Look more closely, though, and you’ll see they don’t attack in the West very often. Of the 125 attacks committed by Islamists that I studied, 77—62 percent—of them were committed in predominantly Muslim countries, and their victims were overwhelmingly other Muslims. Another 40 attacks took place in just three countries—Israel, India, and the Philippines. Only four of the 125 attacks happened in the Western Hemisphere or Europe. They were ghastly and dramatic, just as they were intended to be. But they were, and still are, rare.
That means the risk of an American being killed by any act of terrorism in a given year is roughly one in 3.5 million, and the chances are that the act of terrorism won’t be committed by an Islamist. These facts are all the more remarkable given how easy it is to be a terrorist.