Discussions, news, analysis and thoughts on terrorism.
Important Note: It should clearly be noted here that this section is in no way sympathetic to terrorism, nor supportive of it in any way. It is not an attempt to justify terrorism. This section attempts to find explanations, and not excuses. Since any cure for a disease has to first diagnose the disease correctly first, rather than jumping to conclusions, and attempting an amputation. This section is an attempt to go beyond the superficial soundbites that are common today in the media (e.g. "they hate us because they hate freedom and democracy", "we are good they are evil"), and attempt to find the real causes of terrorism.
Putting terrorism into perspective depends on how you perceive the probability of it happening to you.
The odds of dying in a terrorist attack on a plane in a given year are 1 in 25,000,000.
The odds of a Westerner being killed by a terrorist in a given year are 1 in 3,000,000.
Source: Wall Street Journal
The odds of your dying in a 1 hour flight in a given year are less than 1 in 1,000,000.
Source: Plane Crash Info
It seems that Al Qaeda has shifted to an age old strategy: bombs in cargo.
The latest plot involves mailing relatively sophisticated bombs in cargo. Initially it was thought that the destination, Jewish centers in Chicago, Illinois, were the targets. Later reports from Britian and the USA showed that it was flights that were the targets though, most likely passenger flights, with the bombs being in the cargo holds.
According to Al Jazeera (in Arabic), a new study by Muhammad Abou Rumman and Hassan Haneyeh, described as experts in Islamic groups, criticizes how the government deals with "Jihadist Salafism" (in other words, militant traditionalist literalists).
The Ottawa Citizen has an article (mirrored here) about the "culture of impunity" within Canada's security officials.
As reported by the Ottawa Citizen, Momin Khawaja was convicted of several charges and acquitted from the major one: aiding a terrorist ring in targeting London England.
The trial was under Canada's Anti-terror Law, quickly enacted after the 9/11 attacks in the USA.
I don't think that Khawaja is innocent, given all the evidence, included an ex-fiance from Dubai.
A new report from Simon Fraser University in B.C. concludes there has been a sharp decline in the incidence of terrorist violence around the world, challenging assumptions that the global threat has been increasing.
The Human Security Brief 2007 says fatalities from terrorism have decreased by some 40 per cent in recent months. It also concludes the terrorist network associated with al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden has suffered a dramatic collapse in popular support in the Muslim world.
Michael Jacobson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy has an article on why members of terror groups 'drop out' of those groups. He advocates studying these reasons further and using this information to combat terrorism.
This is a welcome alternative to the heavy handed shotgun approach that has been taken in recent years focusing on military interventions, invasions, and the like.
A recent paper titled Engineers of Jihad by Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog of Oxford University finds that militants often have university degrees, more frequently in engineering and medicine. The Atlantic picked this news up by saying that "the stereotype of the poverty-stricken terrorist has been dispelled by
studies showing that militancy and high levels of education go hand in
Palestinian political leader and activist George Habash died yesterday. The interesting part is that Habash was part of the 60s-70s Palestinian resistance movements that employed terror tactics trying to draw attention to the Palestinian cause.