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1.6 Million Killers

November 16, 2010, 1:26 pm | Posted by Nick Sementelli

Writing in the Christian Science Monitor last week, national security “expert” Joseph Bosco made the tired argument that moderate Muslims are failing to prevent terrorism.

Bosco starts by clarifying that he believes 99.9% of Muslims are peaceful allies, a standard rhetorical way of saying “all but an immeasurable minority.” But Bosco isn’t speaking rhetorically:

If only 1/10th of 1 percent of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are terrorists, that is 1.6 million killers acting in Allah’s name.

Bosco isn’t citing some official estimate or research, and he’s not even guesstimating using a particular logical train. He’s taking a symbolic number (99.9%) usually used to defend groups from unfair attacks, and interpreting it literally to turn it into a wildly irresponsible smear.

To be clear, actual estimates of the number of terrorists hover in only the hundreds to low thousands mid tens to low hundreds of thousands. Being generous to Bosco and tagging it at 10,000 160,000 (.01%) puts him off by only 15,900%. 900%.

This fuzzy math doesn’t belong on the pages of a reputable publication.

UPDATE: The previous estimates this post linked to were for Al-Qaida membership specifically. Estimates of global terrorists are higher, but still significantly below Bosco’s guess.

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