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160 Million Killers

December 6, 2010, 3:38 pm | Posted by Nick Sementelli

I blogged a few weeks ago about pundits who attempt to hide their anti-Muslim bigotry with statistics. National security “expert” Joseph Bosco attempted to appear reasonable by assuring readers that he believed 99.9% of Muslims were peaceful, but then explained that left .1% or 1.6 million Muslims who are “killers.”

On his radio program today, Glenn Beck took that smear one step further, casually alleging that 10% of Muslims are terrorists. To run the numbers again, with a global count of 1.6 billion Muslims, Glenn Beck believes there are 160 million Islamic terrorists. That’s equivalent to the populations of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia combined or one terrorist for every two Americans.

To reiterate, actual estimates of the number of terrorists vary from the hundreds to low thousands mid tens to low hundreds of thousands. Or put another way, about 159,990,000 159,900,000 less than Beck’s estimate.

Via Media Matters. Listen to the full clip below:

UPDATE: The previous estimates this post linked to were for Al-Qaida membership specifically. Estimates of global terrorists are higher, but still over 1,000 times smaller than Beck’s guess.

2 Responses to “160 Million Killers”

  1. Ken Bradley says:

    When you look at the polls from muslim countries it is clear that well over 10% of their populations support terrorism. These are facts. Why accuse someone of anti-muslim bigotry when they are stating verifiable facts? If you disagree with Beck, why not come up with some sort of research to refute his statements? Oh yeah, you can’t.

  2. Nick says:


    Beck’s statements weren’t about public support, but rather that that 10% of Muslims are actual terrorists, which is why I considered it such a significant smear.

    As Fareed Zakaria noted in his response to this claim, equating thought or speech with actual crimes is a dangerous slippery-slope that I don’t think Beck actually wants to go down. That violent acts get any level of support is obviously a problem that we should be working to combat, but polls on this issue are hard to cite as definitive evidence. Surveys of Muslim populations are necessarily influenced heavily by the particular socio-political context of each country and responses to these questions have a tendency to swing significantly as conflicts change.

    While helpful to give us a snapshot of public sentiment around current events, polls like these just aren’t a great prediction of actual terrorism. That we only see a relatively small number of terrorist attacks per year, most of which are carried about by the same groups, is the most telling proof of this.