Terrorism in the USA since September 11, 2001

Terrorismthe systematic use or threatened use of violence in order to intimidate a population or government and thereby affect political, religious, or ideological change.

Since the coordinated attack on America by radical Islamist terrorists on September 11, 2001, the country has been vigilant about preventing another such event.   While our counter-terrorism initiatives and forces have undoubtedly foiled other similar attacks, they have not been able to anticipate or curtail all attacks – particularly when they are undertaken by “lone wolves” – people who act independently of and with minimal guidance, training or financial resources from our enemies – and who have been living and working in the USA for many years.

Since 9/11 there have been 23 mass shootings/attacks (where 3 or more people were killed) which have been deemed “terrorist attacks”. Some of these attacks were carried out by radicalized followers of Islam – and are classified as “Islamic terrorism”. Other attacks, while just as horrible, are classified as “domestic terrorism”.

 

Here’s a list of what are commonly believed to be the Islamic terrorist attacks on US domestic soil since 2011:

Beltway Sniper, DC                          October 2002             10 killed         3 injured

Perpetrators:   John Allen Muhammad, born Baton Rouge, ex-Army (17 years), motive unknown

Fort Hood                                          November 2009         13 killed         44 injured

Perpetrator:     Nidal Malik Hasan, a US Army Major, born in Arlington VA, decorated Army veteran for 21 years,

Boston, Mass                                     April 2014                  6 killed         270 injured

Perpetrator:     Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, born in Chechnya, US citizens since 2012

Chattanooga, TN                               July 2015                    6 killed            2 injured

Perpetrator:     Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, born in Kuwait, US citizen since 2003, killed US military personnel at recruiting station

Orlando, Florida                               June 2015                   49 killed         53 injured           

Perpetrator:     Omar Mateen, born in NY, shot patrons at an Orlando night club

San Bernadino, California               Dec 2015                     16 killed         23 injured

Perpetrator:     Syed Rizwan Farook, born in the United States, killed people at a holiday party.

 

Here’s what’s interesting about the perpetrators of these crimes:

  • Four of the seven were born and educated in the USA.
  • Six of the seven were US citizens for several years before they became radicalized.
  • For whatever reason, they became disenchanted with America. Our Constitution, system of government, freedom of religion and freedom of speech was not enough to maintain their loyalty to the USA.
  • They appear to have been self-radicalized as there was minimal contact with foreign terrorists.
  • Although we don’t have psychological profiles for all of them, they were probably mentally disturbed (how else could one justify such mass-murder).

 

What about Domestic Terrorism?

Under current United States law, set forth in the USA PATRIOT Act, acts of domestic terrorism are those which: “(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended – (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

During the same period (post Sept 11, 2001), the following events have been deemed to be acts of “domestic terrorism”.

Capital Hill Massacre, Seattle        March 2006               7 killed         2 injured

Perpetrator:     Kyle Aaron Huff, born in Montana, shot people at a rave after-party

 

Knoxville Unitarian Church           July 2008                    2 killed         6 injured

Perpetrator:     Jim David Adkisson, born in Tenn, ex-Army, did not like Democrats, Liberals, and homosexuals; shot church goers with shotgun

 

West Memphis Shooting                  May 2010                   4 killed         2 injured

Perpetrators:   Jerry and Joseph Kane, born in Arkansas, disliked federal government, shot cops

 

Tucson, AZ                                        Jan 2011                     6 killed         13 injured           

Perpetrator:     Jared Lee Loughner, born in Tucson, US House Rep Gabrielle Giffords and a US Judge were among the victims

 

Aurora, Colorado                             July 2012                    12 killed         70 injured                       

Perpetrator:     James Eagan Holmes, born in San Diego, shot people in a cinema

  

Wisconsin Sikh Temple                   Aug 2012                    7 killed         4 injured

Perpetrator:     Wade Page, born in Colorado, ex-Army, white supremacist

 

Sandy Hook, Conneticut                  December 2012          28 killed        3 injured

Perpetrator:     Adam Lanza, born in New Hampshire, killed children at middle school

 

Christopher Dorner shootings        (LA)    Feb 2013            5 killed        6 injured

Prepetrator:     Christopher Dorner, born in NY, ex-Navy, ex-LA police officer, shot police because they committed “brutality”

 

Washington Naval Yard                  September 2013        12 killed        3 injured

Perpetrator:     Aaron Alexis, born in NYC, ex-Navy, shot military personnel

 

Overland Park, Kansas                    April 2014                  3 killed

Perpetrator:     Frazer Miller Jr, born in North Carolina, white supremacist, killed Jews

 

Las Vegas, Nevada                            June    2014                5 killed

Perpetrator:     Jared & Amanda Miller, born in Washington State, killed police and shoppers

 

Charleston, SC                                  June 2015                   9 killed         1 injured

Perpetrator:     Dylann Roof, born in South Carolina, white supremacist, killed blacks who were attending church service

 

Roseburg, Oregon                             October 2015             10 killed         9 injured

Perpetrator:     Chris Harper-Mercer, born in Los Angeles, ex-Army, killed college kids who were attending class, claimed sexual frustration

 

New York City                                  November 2015         3 killed

Perpetrator:     Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley, born Brooklyn, NY. Killed police as revenge for police killing of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

 

Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood      Nov 2015        3 killed           9 injured

Perpetrator      Robert Dear, born in South Carolina, claimed to be an “extreme evangelist” and a “warrior of unborn babies”, shot police, nurses & patients

 

Baton Rouge, LU                               July 2016                    4 killed          3 injured           

Perpetrator:     Gavin Eugene Long, born in Kansas City, ex-Marine, shot police officers

 

Fort Lauderdale, FL                         Jan 2017                     5 killed           36 injured

Perpetrator:     Esteban Santiago-Ruiz, born in Alaska, ex-military, shot people in baggage claim at airport

 

 

Here are some interesting observations about the perpetrators of these domestic terrorism crimes:

  • In all case they were American-born citizens.
  • Seven (43%) were ex-military
  • All but 1 were “Christians”.
  • All had some kind of hate / revenge motive
  • Clearly they all had some kind of mental health issues (just like the Islamists)
  • Despite their mental health issues, these people were able to obtain military weapons
  • Since September 2001, the total number of people killed in domestic terrorist attacks (125) is greater than the number (100) killed by the Islamic terrorists.

 

We have only been confronting “Islamic terrorists” since 2001, but we have been dealing with domestic terrorists since the early 1900’s. The most egregious events were:

  • Wall Street bombing in 1920 when 33 people were killed and 143 were injured
  • Tulsa race riot in 1921 when 300 people were killed and 800 were injured
  • Bath Michigan bombing in 1927 when 45 people were killed and 58 were injured
  • Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 when Timothy McVey used a truck bomb to kill 168 and injure 680
  • Atlanta Olympic park bombing in 1996 when 1 person was killed and 111 were injured

In all of these cases, the perpetrators were American citizens. None were Muslims.

 

The fear of terror is an emotion that cannot always be rationalized with data, but this analysis shows that some of our fear of foreign terrorists is overblown. I’m not suggesting that Islamist terrorists don’t pose a threat or that we should stop being vigilant. The data however tells us that the greater threat does not come from foreign nations, but from our own citizens.

Religion – some basic facts and figures

As of 2015, there are an estimated 4,200 different religions in the world. Listed below are the largest and best-known religions by the date each was formed:

                                              Start date       Membership

Judaism                                   2000BC               17 million

Hinduism                                1500BC          1,000 million

Buddhism                                 523BC              500 million

Chinese Folk Religion             270BC              400 million

Christianity                                 30AD            1,900 million

Islam                                          622AD            1,600 million

No Religion                                                           775 million

Atheists                                                                 150 million

All others – including Tribal religions, Shikhism, Taoism, Baha’I, and Shinto etc. have approximately 150 million followers.

One really interesting data point is that there are only 17 million Jews in the world. Six million live in Israel, six million live in the USA and the remaining 5 million are spread throughout the world.

Many of the major religions noted above are subdivided into separate sub-groups (eg. there are 34,000 different forms of Christianity). Many religious sub-groups have long-term disagreements with each other which has led to violence and war (eg: in Islam there are on-going wars between the Sunni and Shia; in Christianity there were many wars between Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox Catholics, Protestants, and Lutherans).

 

Syria explained

There has been a lot of news and controversy about Syria in the last 2 years, so here are some facts and some recommendations:

First some history:

From 1516 – 1919, the region we now call Syria was ruled by the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire – which was based in Constantinople (now Istanbul). During this time the territory of Greater Syria included modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Palestinian Authority, Gaza Strip and parts of Turkey and Iraq.

During WW I, the Ottomans decided to support Germany and when the war ended, they lost most of their territory and the modern Syrian state was established as a French mandate 

The country gained independence as a parliamentary republic on 24 October 1945 when Syria became a founding member of the United Nations

The current Arab Republic of Syria came into being in late 1961 but remained an unstable nation until a coup d’état by the Ba’athist party – which has been in power ever since. This “government” enacted an Emergency Law from 1963 to 2011, effectively suspending most constitutional protections for citizens (eg. It was illegal to form another political party).

Bashar al-Assad, the current president has been president since 2000 and was preceded by his father Hafez al-Assad,  who was in office from 1970 to 2000. Even though there are national, parliamentary elections every four years, the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party (controlled by Bashar al-Assad) has controlled 85% of all seats and therefore the government since 1973.

Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turks. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, and Yazidis. Sunni Arabs make up the largest population group in Syria, but al-Assad and his government are from the Alawite tribe (a branch of the Shia form of Islam) which represents only 10% of Syria’s population.

So, Bashar al-Assad and his Alawite government are effectively dictators of Syria.

 

syria-countries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The current mess

Since March 2011, Syria has been embroiled in an uprising against Assad and the Ba’athist government as part of the Arab Spring – a popular uprising in Middle Eastern countries who began to rebel against their strongmen dictators. 

In Syria, the conflict began when residents took to the streets to protest the torture of students who had put up anti-government graffiti. Protesters demanded reforms, the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, allowing political parties, equal rights for Kurds, and broad political freedoms, such as freedom of the press, speech and assembly. In reply the Syrian government launched a series of crackdowns. Security forces used tanks and snipers shot and killed protestors, water and electricity were shut off and began confiscating flour and food. As the war continued, Al-Assad used chemical weapons and cluster bombs on civilians in violation of international human rights. 

The war is now being fought among several factions:

  • Assad and his allies (Iran and Russia) want to suppress and control the rebels and continue to rule the country as in the past (with no real democracy).
  • The rebels and their allies (USA and western European countries) want to remove Assad and move the country towards a democratically elected government.
  • The Islamists (ISIS and al-Nusra) want to remove Assad, eliminate democracy as an idea and run the country as an Islamist state.
  • The Syrian Kurds want to split off a section of the country which would give them their own independent state (north-eastern Syria)

As of May 2016 the country is controlled as follows:

  • Al-Assad government held 40% of Syria (66% of the population);
  • ISIL-held territory constituted 20–30%;
  • Rebel groups 20%
  • Kurds 20%.

 

Since the war began

  • Syria was a country of 20 million people – now the population is approximately 13m
  • 440,000 Syrianians have been killed
  • 14 million Syrians require humanitarian assistance, of which 7 million are internally displaced within Syria, and over 6 million are refugees outside of Syria
  • Many Syrians refugees have escaped to Turkey (1.5m), Lebanon (1m), Jordan (1m) and Western Europe (1m). This is creating a series of economic, cultural and political issues in those countries accepting such unprecedented number of refugees.
  • As of August 2016, Canada has accepted 33,000 Syrian refugees and the USA has accepted 7,500.
  • The world has contributed over $17b towards humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees – led by Turkey (8b), USA (4.5b), European Commission (1.8b), UK (1.5b), Germany (1.2b) and Canada (1b)

Because of the complex nature of the combatants and their goals, there appears to be no obvious end to this war (or even to a cease-fire in order to get food and medical supplies to civilians caught in the cross-fire).

 

What’s the solution?

Everybody has an opinion on this – so here’s mine:

  1. Russia, the USA, Turkey and Western European countries must create a 50 square mile territory inside Syria where displaced Syrian refugees can be housed, fed and protected until the war ends. This will address the humanitarian crisis that currently exists inside the country and significantly reduce the mass migration of refugees to other countries.
  2. Tribal and religious differences are such that the only way to end the conflict is to partition Syria into sections that align with their cultural norms. Of course this option is already being criticized by idealists who prefer an “all or nothing” plan – and that’s what keeps with war going. Assad is the biggest opponent of this idea because he is unwilling to give up any control of the country – regardless of how long the war lasts or how many Syrians are killed.
  3. ISIS in Syria exists because of the vacuum of power and control. Once the government (Alawites), the rebels (pre-democracy) and Kurds agree on a partition arrangement and stop fighting each other, they must unite to defeat ISIS.

 

And in the beginning …

tumblr_lkws81wTXH1qee77ko1_r1_500

At first, everyone thought the Sun was God because it provided light and energy and food,  and for a while man was content to worship the Sun.   But the Sun God could not answer all of our questions and only a limited number of people could fill the position of High Priest to the Sun God so jealous and ambitious persons took it upon themselves to create new Gods. 

And so it came to pass that we ended up with hundreds of Gods –  Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Hindu, Norse, Celtic, Pagans, Rastafarian, Buddhist, Judaism, Christian, Muslim etc.   Most were oddly shaped in man’s own image.  

Coincidence?