United Airlines Flight 175 flies low toward the South Tower of the World Trade Center, shortly before slamming into the structure. The north tower burns after an earlier attack by a hijacked airliner in New York City, on September 11, 2001. (Reuters/Sean Adair)
Russell Goldman, New York Times: How Many Die in a Typical Terror Attack? Fewer Than You Think
Headline-grabbing attacks like those last week in Orlando, Fla., or on 9/11 are as bloody as they are horrifying, but what they are not is typical. The average death toll in terror attacks, it turns out, is close to zero.
The Global Terrorism Database, a federally financed project at the University of Maryland, has a trove of surprising statistics about terror attacks. The data includes 140,000 attacks around the world since 1970. In more than half of them, no one was killed.
That’s the good news. The bad news: It seems to be changing.
In the 1970s and ’80s, “there was much more of an emphasis of symbolic events,” said Erin Miller, the program manager for the terrorism database. “Terrorists would call in a warning. It would be terrorizing, intimidating, coercive but nonlethal.”
Nowadays, terrorist groups like the Islamic State and Boko Haram are not looking to simply send messages; they are looking to kill people.
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WNU Editor: Planning the big attack has been replaced with pursuing Paris/Mumbai style of operations. I cannot say that I am surprised by this development .... but I am surprised that it has taken this long for terror groups to think like this.