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160 Million Killers, ctd.

December 14, 2010, 1:50 pm | Posted by Nick Sementelli

Last week I commented on Glenn Beck’s false assertion that 10% of Muslims are terrorists. Thankfully, this didn’t go unnoticed by the wider media either. Fareed Zakaria took to his show on Sunday to call out Beck’s math and his producer’s attempts to justify the smear.

Zakaria does a good job explaining why Beck is wrong, but I think he accidentally hurts his cause by citing an inexact number. Quoting CNN national security expert Peter Bergen, Zakaria says official estimates for the number of terrorists are actually 0.1% Unfortunately, I think either Bergen or Zakaria misspoke (understandable when discussing such small numbers). As I wrote about in an earlier post, 0.1% is still around 1.6 million terrorists, a glaringly high number.

But on the whole, Zakaria’s argument devastates Beck’s absurd claim. Drawing on official State Department data, Zakaria shows that there were 11,000 terror attacks recorded worldwide in 2009. Being generous to Beck, Zakaria shows that even if 100 terrorists were involved in each attack, the total would only be around 1.1 million, putting Beck off by hundreds of millions.

It doesn’t take much precision to best Beck, but the numbers Zakaria cites actually can help us drill down even further. As Zakaria mentions, most of these attacks were committed not by hundreds of terrorists, but by just a handful. Moreover, many of these attackers are repeat offenders. Organizations like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are responsible for hundreds of these attacks by themselves. In fact, the State Department identifies only about 220 groups worldwide responsible for the 11,000 attacks.

Finally, this data is not limited to Islamic terrorists; it includes attacks committed by groups and individuals that span the religious and political spectrum from Columbian drug groups to African Christians and South Asian separatists among others.

While the report gives the estimated strength of some of the listed groups, it doesn’t provide a total estimate of Islamic terrorists. Still it’s nowhere near the 1.6 million mark. More likely are projections by experts like former US counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke who estimates that there are somewhere between 50,000-200,000 members of jihadist groups who are actively involved in terrorist activity.

Zakaria’s push back is a great start towards setting the record straight on Beck’s pernicious attack and others like it. I hope next time he’ll make the case even more thoroughly. Those who blame millions of Muslims for the terrorist acts of a very few deserve to be utterly discredited.

Via Mark Barna at The Pulpit

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