'Islamist' Menace in Europe - Myth and Reality

The not so great Islamist menace
By Dan Gardner, Ottawa Citizen, January 5, 2011

If someone mentioned terrorism in Europe, you would probably have an idea about the size of the threat and who's responsible.

It's big, you would think. And growing. As for who's responsible, that's obvious. It's Muslims. Or, if you're a little more careful with your language, it's radical Muslims, or "Islamists."

After all, they were at it again just last month. On Dec. 11, a naturalized Swede -- originally from Iraq -- injured two people when he blew himself up on the way to a shopping district. On Dec. 29, police in Denmark said they thwarted a plan by five Muslims to storm the office of a newspaper and kill as many people as possible.

So the danger is big and growing and Islamists are the source. Right?

Wrong, actually.

The European Union's Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2010 says that in 2009 there were "294 failed, foiled, or successfully executed attacks" in six European countries. This was down almost a third from 2008 and down by almost half from 2007.

So in most of Europe, there was no terrorism. And where there was terrorism, the trend line pointed down.

As for who's responsible, forget Islamists. The overwhelming majority of the attacks-- 237 of 294 -- were carried out by separatist groups, such as the Basque ETA. A further 40 terrorist schemes were pinned on leftist and/ or anarchist terrorists. Rightists were responsible for four attacks. Single-issue groups were behind two attacks, while responsibility for a further 10 was not clear.

Islamists? They were behind a grand total of one attack. Yes, one. Out of 294 attacks. In a population of half a billion people. To put that in perspective, the same number of attacks was committed by the Comite d'Action Viticole, a French group that wants to stop the importation of foreign wine.

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