|Click for the Global Terrorism Database|
CNN reported this afternoon ["Terrorist attacks and deaths hit record high, report shows"] that it will be revealing exclusive details based on an ongoing study by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland. START maintains the Global Terrorism Database, "the most comprehensive source of unclassified information about terrorist attacks, with statistics dating to 1970".
START's definition of terrorism closely mirrors that of the State Department and other experts. To be counted as an act of terror, an incident has to be an intentional act or threat by a "non-state actor" that meets two of these three criteria: (a) Aimed at attaining a political, economic, religious or social goal; (b) Intended to coerce, intimidate or convey a message to a larger group; (c) Violated international humanitarian law by targeting non-combatants.
The apparent increase in civilian casualties is alarming. Gone are the days when terrorist groups like the Irish Republican Army or Italy’s Red Brigade would try to keep casualties low by issuing warnings. Quoting Gary LaFree, START’s director, CNN says:
“If you’re a terrorist group now and you want to get your message out,” he said, “the more people you kill, the more ‘successful’ you’ll be.”Six of the seven most deadly groups are affiliated with the al Qaeda Islamist forces, according to START, and most of the violence involved Moslem countries. CNN being CNN, puts this into context by means of a classic framework:
LaFree and other experts cautioned against viewing Islam itself as inherently violent. “Not so long ago, terrorism was centered in Western Europe and Latin America,” LaFree said. “It moves. And, unfortunately, it has moved into the Muslim world right now.”A random sort of thing, in other words. A little like a roulette wheel. A pity that CNN's editors evidently cannot offer another way of understanding Islamism's role in this expanding crisis.