April 28, 2013

"The terrorism threat facing the United States may be vastly understated, as well as inaccurately characterized..."

"... because so many 'failed' terror plots are excluded from the nation’s terror attack databases, new terrorism research suggests."
“One finding from my research is that the terror threat within the US is higher than most Americans realize,” says Erik Dahl, an assistant professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, whose research has identified 227 failed domestic and international terror plots of all kinds (Islamic jihadist, right-wing extremist and others) against the US dating back to 1987 – the vast majority excluded from national “attack” tallies.

In his post-9/11 analysis, Dr. Dahl found that of the 109 failed attacks, 76 were inspired by radical Islamist beliefs. But the fact that the rest of the terror flops – 30 percent – were not inspired by radical Islam “might surprise some people and shows the importance of the domestic extremist threat, including right-wing militias, anti-government groups,” Dahl says.
There's so much room for cooking the numbers here. When we're talking about things that didn't happen and how to characterize those things, we're talking about the stuff of propaganda. Did Professor Dahl go looking for right-wing plots to up the percentage on non-Islamic terrorism? And what's with the phrase "including right-wing militias, anti-government groups"? It makes me suspicious that when something seems right-wing, it's called right-wing, but when it seems left-wing, it's called anti-government.

52 comments:

Mark O said...

Don't worry baby.

bpm4532 said...

We can't ignore those things that didn't occur because they were prevented. That sort of bias leads to poor outcomes.

The same goes to the gun debate, focusing only on the situations where guns were used to kill and ignore the situations where guns were used to save lives is a bias that will lead to a poor/undesirable outcome.

The equivalent of placing your hands over your ears and saying "Na, Na, Na...) loud enough to drown out everything.

AprilApple said...

including right-wing militias, anti-government groups.

like...?
Note no actual examples or explanations are given. How convenient.

AprilApple said...

Not a single Bill Ayres/ angry leftwing/ OWS-type plot found?

Amazing.

whswhs said...

I don't read the phrase "right-wing militias, anti-government groups" as a list. With only two items, the natural way to express such a list is as "right-wing militias and anti-government groups." Rather, I take "anti-government groups" to be an appositive: a noun phrase that renames or redescribes the entity in the preceding noun phrase (as if someone said "Barack Obama, the President of the United States"). Appositives are characteristically set off by commas, as they are grammatically parenthetical; the passage could also have been "right-wing militias (anti-government groups" or "right-wing militias—anti-government groups."

That is, I think that the intent is to equate "right-wing militias" with "anti-government groups," implying both that there are no significant left-wing anti-government groups at all (which might even be true; hostility to government as such is not a leftist idea in the United States) and that radical Muslims are not "anti-government."

Sorun said...

The left-wing terror of the 70s stopped when left-wingers got control of academia and the media.

Æthelflæd said...

That number seems rather underwhelming to me.

AprilApple said...

Leftwing propaganda is everywhere- all the time. Democrats cannot win without it.

betamax3000 said...

Perhaps he is basing the thirty percent on Williams-Sonoma pressure-cooker sales.

CEO-MMP said...

Had he meant anti government groups to be separate from right wing groups, he'd have said "and" or "or", not separated them with a comma.

Nah. It's all right wingers baby. Lefties don't do shit. Never mind that, beyond Timmy McVeigh, the only real bombings are done by lefties.

Ignore it, because they're celebrated.


edutcher said...

The only people who say right-wing are left-wingers.

Ann Althouse said...

But the fact that the rest of the terror flops – 30 percent – were not inspired by radical Islam "might surprise some people and shows the importance of the domestic extremist threat, including right-wing militias, anti-government groups,".

Actually he doesn't restrict it to right-wing groups, but the Feds, as we've seen, are desperate to blame "militias" , as the current Administration views outfits like the Weathermen as "guys in the neighborhood" and accredited professors at Columbia.

There's so much room for cooking the numbers here. When we're talking about things that didn't happen and how to characterize those things, we're talking about the stuff of propaganda

Old saying in the counter-terror game, "We have to be right every time; they only have to be right once".

pm317 said...

It makes me suspicious that when something seems right-wing, it's called right-wing, but when it seems left-wing, it's called anti-government.

I thought anti-government was also right-wing. Why did you label it as left-wing? If anything, left-wing wants government to be the be all and end all and they are very much pro government.

Paco Wové said...

It would seem a simple thing to list the 109 failed attacks, along with the failed attackers and the failed attackers' presumptive motives. Then we could all decide which motivations predominated, rather than just taking somebody else's word for it. None of the plots actually described in the story qualify as "right wing" or "anti-government"; they are all Islam-inspired (or perhaps just outright criminal enterprises).

Sorun said...

Others are capable of listing terror attempts.

MayBee said...

There were lots of arrests prior to the 2008 national conventions. Leftists were storing buckets of urine and planning on disabling buses and attacking police.

That might not be terror, but it is certainly threatening.

http://www.startribune.com/politics/27695244.html

MayBee said...

Anarchists are anti-government and they are left wing (and actively disruptive these days).

wyo sis said...

It's not possible to get honest facts about terror threats from people who start with a dishonest premiss. It's probably safe to assume a dishonest premiss when you have to parse their definitions.
Who do you believe? Your own lying eyes?

Hagar said...

We need to sort out what has to do with internal political power struggles in various countries, national military ambitions, and religious fanaticism, and decide what, if anything, we want to do about each separate problem.
This all-encompassing term of "world-wide war on terrorism" is not helpful.

The reason there has been so few "terrorist attacks" in this country is not that the Gov't has done a terrific job of "keeping America safe," but that the "terrorists" are more interested in the power struggles nearer to home.

McVeigh, bin Laden, or now Tamerlan Tsarnaev are individual phenomena. Restoring the Persian Empire, or the Baghdad caliphate, or controlling the Libyan oilfields, etc. generate real violence.

Michael K said...

"Nah. It's all right wingers baby. Lefties don't do shit. Never mind that, beyond Timmy McVeigh, the only real bombings are done by lefties. "

The McVeigh case is always called "right wing." So is Ruby Ridge but neither of those cases involved politics per se. McVeigh was avenging the Waco disaster and could fairly be called "anti-government." The fact the Clinton's government was "left wing" offers the rationale for "right wing" but nobody calls the Waco attack on the Branch Davidians "left wing." It was an excessive use of force by government and the motive was suspected to be concern about public relations or budgets. It was clearly wrong and excessive.

McVeigh attacked the offices from which the Waco operation was directed. He attack was an act of terrorism, as well as revenge but I never could figure out, other than the obvious politics, why it was "right wing." McVeigh was pretty apolitical, as I recall.

Ruby Ridge was purely defense by a family that had not committed a crime.

Eric Rudolph was anti-abortion and anti-Olympics and could fairly be called "right wing" since abortion is pretty purely "left wing."

I wonder what the other "right wing" terror cases were ? I know the lefties are calling the ricin case "right wing" but he first suspect is a Democrat and I don't know the motive of the second one other than personal revenge.

MayBee said...

McVeigh's biggest fan was Gore Vidal. That wasn't because McVeigh was such a rightie.

Lyle said...

It was a huge mistake for Bush to call Islam "a religion of peace".

It's not historically true and it's too easy to lampoon today.

Second, we should talk about Islamism and Islamists. That way we all have a word that distinguishes from Muslims from the more backwards ideologues of Islam.

It's like distinguishing between a white person and a white supremacist.

CAIR is also an Islamist organization and they have to be stood up to.

Cedarford said...

There have been other times when the world has become less stable than we want and violent protests with large casualties, bloody revolutions happen, groups that would be called "terrorist" today have done bombings and assassinations.

The USA has to do a cost benefit analysis. We are not the rich country we once were. We cannot afford to be the global 911 service and the global burdern carrier of "defeating all global terror".

At home, we have to do a cost benefit analysis of what things like Muslim immigration gives us, what it costs.
What the price of perfection in Zero Casualties from terror is...is it worth it to have each American liable for 800 dollars a year in "Heroes of Security" costs because "saving just one life makes it worth it"? Or the insane logic that we must spend whatever it takes in wars abroad and at home because "terrorists only have to get lucky once" and They Win!!! and we somehow are Defeated if one terrorist attack works??

Cedarford said...

We also need a lot less talk about Rights as Americans and a lot more talk about responsibilities as Americans.
That is true on people thinking entitlements magically just come from a money tree with no sacrifice involved...
But it is also true about people screaming about Jihadist citizens having only "precious rights" ...and nothing about what responsibilities we demand of them.
Like don't kill fellow Americans or you are enemy - your stinking US citizenship regardless..

Ann Althouse said...

"I thought anti-government was also right-wing. Why did you label it as left-wing? If anything, left-wing wants government to be the be all and end all and they are very much pro government."

Yeah, but they are anti-the-current-government. You might think the current govt is pretty left-wing, but left-wing terrorists would be people like The Weathermen, who want something much more left-wing. They're pro-some-idealized-government-that-they-would-run.

The Drill SGT said...

I must have missed his list, i looked, but could not find it. I Did start doing the CSM Terrorism quiz and found out that Jews were the first terrorists, and in modern times the Frogs. They never did mention the "The Assassins", the Muslim killing cult of the middle ages...

I wonder how the Professor classifies Major "Allahu Akbar" Hassan?

One wonders if the fact that the FBI scrubbed negative Islam references from its training manuals to be the proximate cause of their lack of interest with the Boston Lads...

Sam L. said...

They want to keep us fat, dumb, and happy up to the last moment.

CSM left out the enviro liberation and animal liberation groups, and then there are the anti-government and anti-this-government groups (correspondence is < 1).

The Drill SGT said...

Ann Althouse said...
The Weathermen, who want something much more left-wing. They're pro-some-idealized-government-that-they-would-run.


Green Peace
ALF
ELF
Earth First
NBPP

AReasonableMan said...

Cedarford said...

The USA has to do a cost benefit analysis. We are not the rich country we once were.


Exactly. The mania to interfere in other country's disputes hurts us economically and also hurts our security.

The cornerstone of our dominance in the last century was science and technology. We now struggle to compete. Our decline will not be driven by a lack of military intervention it will be driven by a failure of our technology to compete.

furious_a said...

And what's with the phrase "including right-wing militias, anti-government groups"?

Like how anti-gun groups include deaths of gang-members up to 21 years of age in tallies of "children killed by guns".

GrandpaMark said...

How many "terrorist plots" are the result of the authorities providing the means and manipulating and encouraging the loadmouth drunks down at the local bar into doing something they would never ever do if left alone.

Hagar said...

It's "The Weatherman", singular, and I do not think that they really had any thought-through ideology beyond rebelling against their parents and some confused idea that if they caused enough of a ruckus, government would implode and a new, more just society ruled by "the people" (under 30) would rise out of the ashes of the old.

Hagar said...

And, it's at least a possibility that McVeigh, who was an Army explosives expert and had a thing about explosives, just wondered what setting off a really big one would be like.

Rusty said...

Hagar said...
It's "The Weatherman", singular, and I do not think that they really had any thought-through ideology beyond rebelling against their parents and some confused idea that if they caused enough of a ruckus, government would implode and a new, more just society ruled by "the people" (under 30) would rise out of the ashes of the old.

Read "The Port Huron Statement." Those people were and still are committed Marxists. They have no problem killing people who stand in their way.

Hagar said...

If they were still quoting Marx in 1970, that is in itself evidence of not having thought much for themselves.

Ralph L said...

The reason there has been so few "terrorist attacks" in this country is not that the Gov't has done a terrific job of "keeping America safe," but that the "terrorists" are more interested in the power struggles nearer to home
This is IMO the best rationale for the Iraq War. The spectre of Saddam kept the whole region ossified. Unfortunately, the least-anti-Western groups seem to be losing the struggles that were finally unleashed.

Robert Cook said...

"You might think the current govt is pretty left-wing, but..." you would be completely delusional to think so, as delusional as viewing the Sahara and seeing there a great sea.

Hagar said...

Incidentally, Karl Marx considered himself as some sort of "historical scientifical researcher" and no kind of a murderous revolutionary. That came with Lenin and others.

And Cookie, the current administration is indeed what leftism has come to.
Pathetic, isn't it?

n.n said...

The greatest threat to America is posed internally from the Left.

Their redistributive change economic model causes a dissociation of risk which sponsors corruption.

Their diversity social model denigrates individual dignity and sponsors development of prejudice.

Their "reproductive rights" model encourages liberal, irresponsible behaviors, which often culminate in the commission of elective abortion (i.e. premeditated murder), and sponsors a general devaluation of human life.

They favor evolutionary fitness for a minority class, while advocating for the normalization of dysfunctional behaviors in a majority of the population.

Their principles are selective.

There is also a problem with excessive legal immigration, and unmeasured illegal immigration, both of which exceed the rate of assimilation, both of which displace Americans citizens and legal residents, both of which are disruptive to our culture and government.

Rusty said...

leninists then.

Karl Marx considered himself as some sort of "historical scientifical researcher"

And he was very bad at it yet he continues to inspire the incurious.

Balfegor said...

In his post-9/11 analysis, Dr. Dahl found that of the 109 failed attacks, 76 were inspired by radical Islamist beliefs. But the fact that the rest of the terror flops – 30 percent – were not inspired by radical Islam “might surprise some people and shows the importance of the domestic extremist threat, including right-wing militias, anti-government groups,” Dahl says.

I don't know that that statistic cuts the way he thinks it does. I was honestly surprised, reading about failed terror plots on Wikipedia a week or two ago, that a clear majority of the plots were by Muslims and appeared to be motivated either by Islam or the Middle East. 76 out of 109 is an overwhelming majority, despite Muslims being a miniscule minority within the country. I think it would tend to build political support for targeting antiterrorism efforts more closely on Muslim communities. It certainly puts out some solid numbers to support the view that we don't really have a terrorism problem, so much as a Muslim terrorism problem.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

The whole War On Terror has always been posited as an asymmetrical war.

A very few hidden guerrilla teams and deep cover IED experts are able to cause a worry and fear that terrorizes a population into ending the war by quitting it. That tactical skill has been practiced and practiced in Afghanistan until the Muslims needed trained men have widespread knowledge.

What has distracted them from attacking us has been fear of the cowboy revenge mindset represented by the Gulf Wars. But Obama has taken that deterrence away but used drones and arms supplies to sunni/shiite sects as substitutes.

How soon will the focus of Muslim Jihadists attention revert to attacks here? Stay tuned.



Jim Bullock said...

It makes me suspicious that when something seems right-wing, it's called right-wing, but when it seems left-wing, it's called anti-government.

I wonder where the line is between nutjobbery and violence with an agenda.

It seems like if the bad guy said anything nice about Ronald Reagan, ever, it's part of a vast right wing conspiracy. Meanwhile, we have the gentleman inspired, so he said out loud, by the targeting map provided by the SPLC, the readings and ravings of the gentleman who shot up Tuscon & etc.

Really, what's the threshold? How does the author characterize the Fort Hood massacre? That's a good starting point for calibrating this scholarship.

(BTW, I decline to describe the Tuscon shooting as the "Gabby Giffords" shooting.

This is yet another example of the latent racism of the poor white girl who fell down a well, and besides six people died, including a federal judge. What, the Judge was nominated by George H. W. Bush, so simply got what he deserved while the dead folks don't make useful set dressing inspiring an agenda stampede?)

Ralph L said...

What was a Federal judge doing at a public event? I'm too lazy to look up what the event was.

The Prof also left out all the Muslim attacks on US citizens abroad--don't they count?

n.n said...

The Left are terrorists in a land of revolutionaries. Unfortunately, Americans have grown complacent in their success, and have yielded the ground to their oppressors. Now, Americans, the so-called "right-wing", are classified as terrorists in their own land.

As for Muslims of the Caliphate regime, they realize their faith in a left-wing, imperial ideology. They are natural allies and competitors to other left-wing ideologues. They find comfort in each other's hands until their common enemy is either marginalized or eviscerated.

Stephan White said...

There were lots of arrests prior to the 2008 national conventions. Leftists were storing buckets of urine and planning on disabling buses and attacking police.
Glyn Willmoth

Jim Bullock said...

Silly me, I prefer to read the data and analysis as well as the conclusions. I'm not finding the base data via the linked article. Working the interweb finds me:

- Global terrorism database (U Maryland):
http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/

- Study of Terrorism and Responses (U Maryland):
http://www.start.umd.edu/start/

- A Daily Beast article:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/09/08/9-11-anniversary-45-terror-plots-foiled-in-last-10-years.html

The DB article references the underlying research paper:

“The Plots That Failed: Intelligence Lessons Learned From Unsuccessful Terrorist Attacks Against the United States,” recently published in the academic journal Studies in Conflict and Terrorism.

*That* paper is available on Taylor Francis Online, from the Taylor Francis Group, which seems to provide a back office, e-pub & e-reference service for "refereed" journals. It's $37 to read the paper without a membership or access via library subscription.

I would like to see the underlying paper. We always risk that much like with the recent "gun control" legislation, the title and commentary may not track with the details. (As written "background checks" on transfer in the Senate "compromise" amendment effectively criminalized gun ownership. This without even having to assume zealous prosecutors pushing the language as hard as they could.)

Right now I'm not willing to pay $37 to see the original paper. This does raise the side question - who funded the research? Seems like research, publicly funded, that bears on public policy, should be accessible to ... maybe the public?

Naaaaaah. That's crazy talk.

Robert Cook said...

"The greatest threat to America is posed internally from the Left."

The greatest threat to America is posed internally by the military/intelligence/corporate/finance complex.

Any "left" which staggers along internally is scattered, vestigial, and impotent.

Robert Cook said...

"And Cookie, the current administration is indeed what leftism has come to.
Pathetic, isn't it?"


It's pathetic that many who support him and virtually all who oppose him from the right mistake Obama for being any kind of leftist, and idiotic that any would see in the Sahara of his administration a sea of leftists, (to borrow from my own metaphor).

I know Obama trots out vaguely kumbaya-ish (and patently insincere) "progressive" platitudes whenever he runs for office--actually, it's just the standard "we are all Americans together and we, together, will make America great!" populist tripe every politican has been yawning out at election time for many decades...it's the skewed perspectives of his supporters and opponents alike that lends to his snake oil a "progressive" (sic) flavor--and that so many on either side actually believe his pandering condescencion, believe that he means it, is a testament to the failure of the American public to know shit from Shinola.

Either that, or it reveals how desperately so many citizens hope they have a president who is on really on their side (at last!), and how hungry their counterparts are to have a figure to hate, to demonize as the personification of the ills that have wrought the fall of America.

He is a personification of those ills, but they are not the ills of "communism" or "socialism," and Obama is not the singular personification of those ills; his predecessor was one, and his successor will be another, and virtually everyone in Washington also personify those ills. They're serially replaceable and servile factota in service to the people who own the world.

Biff said...

Funny. If I recall correctly, most of the relatively recent, documented, non-jihadi, foiled terrorism plots seemed to involve animal rights groups and environmentalist radicals. Although the FBI calls those types of plots "single issue" terrorist plots, I doubt that many of the participants were Romney voters.

The Godfather said...

Left-wing and right-wing don't really seem very useful descriptors of most non-Islamist terror attacks/attempts. The perps are generally nut-jobs, and calling them by political names is too often an attempt to smear the political side you disagree with. Of course, if mainstream politicians support extremist groups, that's different. Condemn any Republican that supports the Aryan Brotherhood, or any Democrat who supports PETA, but don't call everyone you disagree with a terrorist.

Robert Cook said...

"If I recall correctly, most of the relatively recent, documented, non-jihadi, foiled terrorism plots seemed to involve animal rights groups and environmentalist radicals."

Can all such "plots" fairly be called "terrorism?" I'm not aware of animal rights or environmental groups being particularly interested in killing people. What foiled plots are you thinking of?