As a result of the current wave of violence that we’ve been experiencing here in Israel, as well as in Europe, over the last few weeks, many of us have the feeling that it all began suddenly, and interrupted what we believed was a quiet and calm life. But this feeling is mistaken. The reality is actually categorically different from this perception. We humans have a very short-term memory and we have the astonishing ability to ignore anything negative happening just a short distance away. We are able to feel calm even while the world around us is experiencing incredible violence.
Each year the Institute for Economics and Peace produces the Global Terrorism Index, which systematically ranks the nations of the world according to levels of terrorist activity. Data that were recently published in the journal Israel Defense leave no room for doubt.
The number of people killed in 2014 around the world as a result of terrorist activity, 32,000, was 80 percent higher than the previous year – an all-time record.
The report states that the organizations responsible for a majority of these murders (51%) are Boko Haram, which operates in Nigeria and Central Africa, and ISIS, which operates in Iraq and Syria. If we consider the fact that Boko Haram has sworn allegiance to ISIS and began operating as an extension of ISIS in Africa, in essence ISIS is responsible for most of the deaths due to terrorism in the world.
If you’re wondering how it’s possible that so many people have been murdered without the world making a fuss about it, the answer is that most of the victims were from only five countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan.
In Iraq alone, ISIS has murdered almost 10,000 people, and close to 8,000 Nigerians have been killed by Boko Haram. And the world remains silent.
The 2014 Institute for Economics and Peace GTI report compares murder rates with data from 2013, and the results show that there was a 60% increase. The 2014 rate was also a record high. For more than two years now, ISIS and Boko Haram have been responsible for the majority of murders due to terrorism, and the world is still silent.
Statistics from 2015 have not yet been calculated, but according to estimates, the numbers will be even higher than in 2014, and will therefore set a new record. And the world remains silent.
According to the report, the damage caused to the global economy in 2014 as a result of these murders is estimated at $53 billion, or 10 times the sum measured in 2000.
In other words, this number has been growing each year, and still the world remains silent.
Another fact that is relevant to this topic is that the number of refugees in a specific country is directly related to the number of murders linked to terrorism. This means that in countries with a large number of refugees, the number of terrorist attacks was also larger.
But the Europeans apparently did not read this report, and instead have continued absorbing more refugees and remaining silent.
One more interesting statistic I gleaned from the GTI index is that 30,000 people from the Middle East have gone to Iraq to join ISIS, and this number is increasing every year.
Most of the people who’ve joined ISIS hail from extremely poor countries, but even those from Western European countries mostly lived in poor neighborhoods with high levels of social and economic distress.
In these ghettos, Muslim extremist tendencies have grown strong, and over the years people living there have developed an intense hatred of the West, leading many young people in these neighborhoods to join ISIS.
According to the GTI Index, more than one-third of the terrorism murder victims in the world are Muslim. Most terrorist attacks are carried out in Muslim countries, and those in the rest of the world are mostly in Southeast Asia and South America. There is little room for doubt that when the 2015 report comes out it will show a huge increase in the number of terrorism-related deaths in Europe.
But instead of taking these mind-boggling statistics, from which we can gain an enormous amount of insight, and making the world a better and safer place to live in, people prefer to ignore these astronomical numbers and instead hope for a miracle or a magical solution that of course will never actually come.
Western countries, led by the US and its president Barack Obama, have been deluding themselves into thinking that Islamic terrorism and ISIS and Boko Haram’s armed gangs are problems that belong solely to the Middle East and Africa. They hope with all their might that the craziness will stay contained in the Middle East and Africa. They haven’t learned the lessons of the past or internalized the fact that if we don’t take the time to deal with terrorist cells, they will multiply and spread like a cancer.
What began in one spot in the Middle East has metastasized and spread to every part of the world.
The Americans experienced this firsthand on September 11, 2001, but they seem to have already forgotten it. The French, Germans and Belgians experienced this a year ago, but ignored the feelings it gave them and are now paying the price for sweeping their problems under the rug.
Western countries – including Israel – must realize that we need to stop ignoring the terrorist activity that is taking place right under our noses. Instead, we must combat it forcefully, with determination and courage everywhere it rears its ugly head. We must pass legislation that will enable us to use the tools that will help us fight against terrorism and to communicate with the terrorists in the only language they speak: force. Empty threats made at press conferences, talk about humanism, and dropping bombs from airplanes are all futile actions.
It’s time to dig in, get dirty and fight back.The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a division head in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
Translated by Hannah Hochner.