Is Terrorism Getting Worse?

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tags: terrorism



According to two big databases, the number of people who died in terror attacks in North America and Western Europe rose markedly in 2015, claiming more than 200 lives. This year, according to one count, it is on track to be even worse.

But terrorism in the West is rare. In the parts of the world where it is more common — deaths in those regions are in the thousands rather than the dozens — terror attacks appear to be decreasing.

And as bad as terrorism has been in the West recently, it was worse in the 1970s and 1980s.

High-profile attacks in cities that include Brussels; Paris; Orlando, Fla.; and San Bernardino, Calif., have fed public fears of terrorism in the United States and made it a big issue in the presidential campaign. President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump have all highlighted the risk of terrorism at home.

Analysts who monitor terror attacks around the world note that risk perception doesn’t always correspond to actual risk. The groups committing acts of terrorism over time have changed, of course. But data from the Global Terrorism Database at the University of Maryland, which has cataloged terrorist attacks since 1970, shows last year’s terrorism death toll would have been fairly typical for an earlier era.




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