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Department of Homeland Security Report Reveals Scope of Terrorist Attacks on U.S.

Fifteen years ago, skyscrapers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and a plane in Pennsylvania were subjected to attack by terrorists. This single event, which led to the deaths of 2,996 people, has been burned into American culture as proof that the United States faces an existential threat from terrorism. Any argument to the contrary can be trumped symbolically with the four syllables “nine eleven.”

We are not only a symbolic nation of culture, however. We are also a nation of counts. To develop a count of terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security has funded the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism And Responses to Terrorism (START). Housed at the University of Maryland, START maintains a current database of terrorist attacks tracking the occurrence and circumstances of such attacks around the world.

This map describes the location of terrorist attacks around the world in 2015, the most recently completed year.   Areas with attacks are colored orange and red where fatalities and injuries are high in number; where fatalities and injuries are low in number, attacks are colored yellow and green.

Terrorist Incidents Around the Globe in 2015. Source: START database at the University of Maryland

As you can see from the map, the United States is not among the hotspot targets of terrorist attacks.  The top two current hotspots for terrorism are Afghanistan and Iraq, the two nations the United States decided to invade at the beginning of this century.

Information on the trend of terrorist attacks over time in the United States is also available from Homeland Security’s START database.  The START count for the United States goes back to 1970:

Terrorist Incidents per year in the United States, 1970-2015. Source: START database at the University of Maryland

The number of terrorist incidents in the United States is fairly low compared to the number of incidents in the 1970s and 1980s.

One thought on “Department of Homeland Security Report Reveals Scope of Terrorist Attacks on U.S.”

  1. Charles Manning says:

    I always applaud Irregular Times for presenting crucially important facts (which really should be considered news) that never appear in the mainstream media, which is a key player in suppressing healthy democracy in this country. Related to the data in this article is the cost of fighting the terrorism threat in this country. I would like to see those figures, which you may have in your archives. It must be in the trillions. Beyond raw numbers, we should consider the implications of what you state here: “The top two current hotspots for terrorism are Afghanistan and Iraq, the two nations the United States decided to invade at the beginning of this century.” To use one of my favorite analogies, it looks like the U.S. has been fighting the terrorism fire by pouring gasoline on it.

    Focusing on the costs vs. effectiveness issue leads us to wonder if the clumsy, ineffective, but tremendously expensive “war on terror” is a way that a small segment of our society garners huge amounts of tax dollars, diverting them from useful endeavors like infrastructure repair and health care for all citizens.

    Nevertheless, as 9/11 shows, there’s a real threat that terrorists will figure out a way to attack the many U.S. Achilles heels, warned against for example by Ted Koppel. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/22/books/review/lights-out-by-ted-koppel.html. The growth of the “see something, say something” concept is a positive development since 9/11. I hope that disclosures such as those Irregular Times specializes in will bring people to realize that terrorism is a law enforcement issue, and accordingly shouldn’t be addressed by jets and bombs, assassinations by drones, overturning leaders of sovereign nations like Libya and Iraq, and funneling weapons to third-world groups like ISIS.

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