June 15, 2016

The past two years, 2015 and 2016, have been extremely difficult years for our country relative to terrorist attacks.   Let’s take a look.

  • 3 May 2015–Garland, Texas, two (2) killed, one (1) injured.
  • 17 Jun 2015–Charleston, South Carolina, nine (9) killed, one (1) injured
  • 16 Jul 2015—Chattanooga, Tennessee (my home town), six (6) killed, two (2) injured
  • 4 Nov 2015–Merced, California, one (1) killed, four (4) injured
  • 27 Nov 2015—Colorado Springs, Colorado—three (3) killed, nine (9) injured
  • 3 Dec 2015–San Bernardino, California, sixteen (16) killed, twenty-three (23) injured
  • 7 Jan 2016–Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, zero (0) killed, two (2) injured
  • 11 Feb 2016–Columbus, Ohio, one (1) killed, four (4) injured
  • 12 June 2016—Orlando, Florida, one (1) killed, zero (0) injured
  • 13 June 2016—Orlando, Florida, forty-nine (49) killed, fifty-three (53) injured.


Now, to be fair, not all of these attacks were inspired by Islamic extremists, but we have come to realize Islamic terrorism is a horrible blight on our nation.  The map below is one of the scariest representations of reality I have seen in quite some time.


In 2015 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had at least 1,000 ongoing investigations involving the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS.  All of these are inside the United States.

According to FBI reports, terrorists are actively recruiting in all 50 states, primarily using social media. Currently, the FBI is investigating over 900 different potential terror plots in the United States alone. Over 9,500 immigrants have their visas revoked over terrorist activity.  Their whereabouts in the U.S. are unknown—that’s right, unknown.  This in itself is extremely disturbing, but that is reality.  We simply have lost the whereabouts of 9,500 immigrants.   These we know about but what about the numbers we do not know about. What about all those terrorists and terrorists’ plots that have slipped through the cracks? 


Well, maybe there is a place, or places, we can hide or at least be assured of relative safety.  The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) recently published the ninth list of the safest countries in the world, as follows:


A publication called The Global Peace Index (GPI) ranks the nations of the world according to their level of peacefulness. The index is composed of twenty-three (23) qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources and ranks 162 independent states, covering 99.6 per cent of the world’s population. The index gauges global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict and the degree of militarization. You will notice the United States is not in the top twenty (20) countries in which safety can be counted on.  I think this is really disturbing.


I do not wish to be cold-hearted but there is an economic impact to violent across the world and certainly the United States.

The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2014 was substantial and is estimated at US $14.3 trillion or 13.4 per cent of world GDP. This is equivalent to the combined economies of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. Since 2008, the total economic impact on global GDP has increased by 15.3 per cent, from US $12.4 trillion to US $14.3 trillion. Large increases in costs are due to the increases in deaths from internal conflict, increases for IDP and refugee support, and GDP losses from conflict, with the latter accounting for thirty-eight percent (38%) of the increase since 2008. The major expenditure categories are military spending at forty-three percent (43), homicide and violent crime at twenty-seven percent (27%) and internal security officers, including police, at eighteen percent (18%). While the cost of UN peacekeeping has more than doubled since 2008, it still only accounts for less than 0.17 per cent of violence containment expenditure on a global basis. A huge sum of money.

The US alone now spends about US $500 billion annually—twenty percent (20% of the US federal budget–on departments directly engaged in combating or preventing terrorism, most notably Defense and Homeland Security. The Defense budget increased by one-third, or over $100 billion, from 2001 to 2003 in response to the heightened sense of the threat of terrorism – an increase equivalent to 0.7 per cent of US GDP. Expenditures on defense and security are essential for any nation, but of course they also come with an opportunity cost; those resources are not available for other purposes, from spending on health and education to reductions in taxes. A higher risk of terrorism, and the need to combat it, simply raises that opportunity cost.


We certainly live in very difficult times and seemingly, the three branches of our government do NOT know how to effectively prevent future acts and yet, there are successes.

In 2007, The Heritage Foundation began tracking post-9/11terrorist plots against the United States. Heritage continuously refines and updates the available information, and in light of the Boston Marathon bombing, is now including not only thwarted plots, but those that have been successful.

In 2012, Heritage reported that at least fifty (50) publicly known, Islamist-inspired terrorist plots against the homeland had been thwarted since September 11, 2001. The reality, of course, is that no matter how good a nation’s security and intelligence agencies are, they cannot prevent one hundred (100) percent of planned attacks. Of the sixty (60) plots, forty-nine (49) could be considered homegrown terror plots. This means that one or more of the actors were American citizens, legal permanent residents, or visitors radicalized predominately in the United States.

In each of these plots, the number one target was military facilities, followed closely by targets in New York City. The third most common target was mass gatherings, like the Boston Marathon, nightclubs and bars, and shopping malls. We have just experienced that with the shooting in Florida. There are successes but we have been told our enemies are coming after us and with a vengeance.  It is still imperative that city, state and federal governments work together to insure public safety and do so in a very proactive manner.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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