The Statistical Invisibility of Islamist 'Terrorism' in Europe

The following is from SpinWatch noting how small (statistically) Islamist terrorism is in Europe, despite prevailing views otherwise. You can see the original article at

The statistical invisibility of Islamist 'terrorism' in Europe

By David Miller


May 23, 2007

New figures from Europol, the European police agency, reveal that Islamist terror attacks in Europe constituted 0.2% or all 'terrorism' throughout the continent in 2006.* Unsurprisingly, there has been little in the media about this interesting figure in the month since it was published.

In their first report of this nature—European Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2007—Europol reports that across the EU there were 498 terrorist attacks in 2006. These include:

  • 424 ethno-nationalist and separatist (mostly in France and Spain)
  • 55 left-wing and anarchist (mainly Greece , Italy, Spain and Germany)
  • 1 failed Islamist terrorist attack (in Germany, plus two more attempts allegedly foiled in Denmark and the UK)
  • 1 right-wing terrorist attack (in Poland)

The figures appear to over report left and anarchist terror by categorising some political demonstrations which result in damage to property as terrorism. On Germany it reports that the G8 Summit 2007 that still has to be held has already been the target of left-wing and anarchist terrorists. The report also appears to under report right wing and neo-fascist violence since this is as the report states: mainly investigated as right-wing extremism and not as right-wing terrorism. The report only includes rightwing and animal rights political violence as terrorism if reported as such by member states.

The report does also note that the 0.2% of attacks undertaken by Islamists resulted in fully half the 706 arrests in the EU being of Muslims. The UK itself has seen hundreds of arrests on trumped up charges which are later shown to be false and often propagandist. Indeed one of the two alleged 'foiled' attacks in the figures is the much heralded transatlantic bomb plot in the UK which has certainly adversely affected millions of air passengers. However, it does appear that this plot existed much more in the minds of the security establishment than in reality.

I wondered how well the pattern of media reporting conformed to the pattern of offences or the pattern of arrests. In 2006 the National press in the UK carried 26, 577 reports which mentioned the word terrorist or terrorism.^ Of these 7,620 also referred to Islam, Islamist or Muslim. In other words the media reported Islamist violence out of all proportion to the number of attacks. This is hardly helpful to those trying the resist the wave of islamophobia emanating from sections of the police and from the intelligence agencies and politicians. Nor does it give much hope for muslims under attack throughout the UK.


*Thanks to Eric Herring for drawing these figures to my attention.

^Figures from searches conducted on Lexis-nexis press database.

Europol, 'First Terrorism Situation and Trend Report of Europol released' News Release, The Hague, 10 April 2007.

European Terrorism Situation and trend Report 2007

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