Sunday, September 21, 2014

Terror Scares

How serious a threat is terrorism?  Australia devotes billions of  dollars to it and sacrifice some  basic civil liberties for it.  Intelligence and law enforcement agencies insist that four “mass casualty attacks” have been stopped by the actions of security agencies since 9/11 in Australia. Politicians only have to say the word “terrorism” for Australians, and especially the media, to abandon all reason and demand “whatever it takes” to “keep Australia secure”.

The global terrorism database (which is downloadable) contains details of every terrorist attack since 1970, from Northern Ireland to South Sudan, from al-Qaeda to the ANC. It shows that around half of all terrorist attacks since 1970 haven’t inflicted any casualties. The average casualties of all terrorist attacks, including perpetrators, is 2.25. And that number hasn’t significantly escalated in the era of al-Qaeda — since 2000, the average death toll, including perpetrators, has been 2.27.  So four terrorist assaults in Australia would not, on average, have reached double figures.

The average death toll from attacks by al-Qaeda and its various offshoots is, according to the database, 7.5. But let’s strike out al-Qaeda in Iraq (AKA Islamic State, currently being touted as the enemy du jour) and al-Qaeda in Yemen, and al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb, and stick with straight al-Qaeda, which has carried out 9/11 and dozens of other attacks both in the West and (mainly) in the Middle East. The average toll from their attacks is 61, mainly because of 9/11. Let’s assume that, of the four mass casualty attacks that have been stopped, each would have cost 61 lives. This would place them in the top 0.2% of all terrorist attacks in the last forty-plus years, but let’s assume it anyway. Four attacks of that scale would bring the total Australian death toll from terrorism to just under 360.

Well short of the 417 who have died falling out of beds. If the the budget of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation as spent upon programs to lower indigenous Australians diabetes to just twice that of non-indigenous Australians  around 1200 lives would have been saved.

From here

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