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"The Enemy", wear thin?
February 8, 2012 6:44 AM   Subscribe

"Muslim-American Terrorism in the Decade Since 9/11" (PDF) is a report by Professor Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina, published by the Triangle Center for Terrorism and Homeland Security. The TCFTHS is a collection of experts in the "Research Triangle" of North Carolina, associated with Duke, UNC and NC State and RTI, the independent research institute dedicated to aggregating and marketing the research resources of these three institutions.

The report finds that 20 Muslim-Americans committed or were arrested for terrorist crimes in 2011, making it roughly average in relation to the 193 arrests or convictions in the 10 years since 9/11. However, not one of the 14,000 murders reported in the US in 2011 were attributable to Islamic extremism, according to Kurzman. This also represents a second consecutive annual drop in convictions and arrests. Only one arrest involved accusations of executing a terrorist attack.

Eight Muslim-Americans were charged with non-violent support for terrorism in 2011, down from 27 in 2010. The four cases involving financial support all involved less than $100,000 in funds.

Although many of the numbers in the report show consistent trends (a 70/30 citizen/non-citizen split, and an ethnically diverse group, with 30% Arab, 25% white and 15% African-American), some statistical anomalies were reported. 25% of the 2011 perpetrator group had military experience. The number of identifiable tips to law-enforcement from Muslim-Americans (2 out of 14) is out of proportion to the approximately 0.6% representation of Muslims in the population of the US, although consistent with earlier years.

David Schanzer, Director of the Triangle Center, said of the report:
While homegrown radicalization is still a problem, the offenders from 2011 were less skilled and less connected with international terrorist organizations than the offenders in the prior two years. Hopefully, the seriousness of this threat will continue to decline in the future.
(NYT article)
posted by running order squabble fest (23 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
All I can think of when I see something about a report on "Muslim-American Terrorism" is, "Wow, if that's an honest paper, it's probably really short."
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:47 AM on February 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Finally, some common sense in print.

Aside from what is noted above, at least read page 8 of the PDF. It pretty much sums up both links quite well.
posted by lampshade at 6:55 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


While homegrown radicalization is still a problem, the offenders from 2011 were less skilled and less connected with international terrorist organizations than the offenders in the prior two years. Hopefully, the seriousness of this threat will continue to decline in the future.

I don't know what skill or connection to international orgs has to do with the seriousness of homegrown radicalization. Oh wait, they are only talking about MUSLIM terrorism, not Christian.
posted by DU at 6:55 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know what skill or connection to international orgs has to do with the seriousness of homegrown radicalization. Oh wait, they are only talking about MUSLIM terrorism, not Christian.

Well obviously, that's why the report is called "Muslim-American Terrorism in the Decade Since 9/11."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:01 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Surely one does not need a collection of experts to tell us that "terror" is no longer in style. It's pretty obvious that OBL and the boys were one hit wonders and the genre didn't really develop stateside. Yeah, there has been some limited success overseas but being big in some backwater country isn't really enough to keep you on the scene.

Nowadays no one's rapping about "terror" and all the hippest fear-mongers are way into Iran big time.
posted by three blind mice at 7:03 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Atlantic touches on the possible repercussions on domestic terrorism of an attack on Iran in this response - its argument is a hypothetical based on the possibility of a retaliatory terror attack, heightened tensions and discrimination and the subsequent radicalization of young Muslim-Americans.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:12 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked Iran's early stuff from the '80s, before they sold out. People say trench warfare is obsolete, but I just think that it gives you much richer level of human suffering then you can get with this modern digital warfare.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:17 AM on February 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I liked Iran's early stuff from the '80s, before they sold out. People say trench warfare is obsolete, but I just think that it gives you much richer level of human suffering then you can get with this modern digital warfare.

Basra was a gas, man.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:29 AM on February 8, 2012


"The report finds that 20 Muslim-Americans committed or were arrested for terrorist crimes in 2011, making it" useless for statistical analysis.

Seriously, with only 20 data points we're gonna do some serious, in-depth analysis and formulate a conclusion while still maintaining scientific credibility?

Wha?!?
posted by Blue_Villain at 7:57 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seriously, with only 20 data points we're gonna do some serious, in-depth analysis and formulate a conclusion while still maintaining scientific credibility?

My first thought, too.
posted by tippiedog at 8:04 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously, with only 20 data points we're gonna do some serious, in-depth analysis and formulate a conclusion while still maintaining scientific credibility?

I think the conclusion more or less is that there are only 20 data points.
posted by Legomancer at 8:10 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of course this is going to be spun two completely separate ways: one, stating that this means the whole Homeland Security apparatus is unnecessary and an infringement on our freedoms, and alternatively, that this proves that the Homeland Security program is an outstanding success in deterring terrorism and defending our nation.

As to which viewpoint is correct? Who knows at this point? In my view the battle lines on Homeland Security shall be drawn on issues completely tangential to whether it's a success or how many terrorists it captures.
posted by happyroach at 8:35 AM on February 8, 2012


Seriously, with only 20 data points we're gonna do some serious, in-depth analysis and formulate a conclusion while still maintaining scientific credibility?


Social scientific credibility, to be exact - Kurzman is in the Department of Sociology.

There are some quite large datasets available: most obviously, the 14,000 reported homicides in the US in 2011. Casting the net wider, there have been approximately 140,000 homicides in the US since 9/11, about 36 of which (By Kurzman's analysis) can be confidently attributed to Islamic extremism. There is a sample set of 0 in the first statistic, which is prone to significant internal variation, but is of interest in itself. If that number were 1, it wouldn't be safe to extrapolate that all Muslim extremist-linked homicides in America would be committed by somebody with that one data point's hair colour or name, but the shift within the data set of 14,000 would be minimal. It's worth looking at the negative space.

Of course, the small number of data points within the data set of 20 arrests leads to statistical peculiarities. For example, that you are statistically at the greatest risk of Muslim terror from former or current members of the US military, and the most statistically implacable foes of Muslim terror in the US, comparing number of reported informants to population size, are Muslims.

Clearly, a small sample set is going to make single exceptions statistically significant - around a third of those approximately 36 deaths in the last 10 years can be attributed to one person - Nidal Malik Hasan. If one looked only at 2009, when this atrocity took place, one would see far more than the average number of homicides attributable to Muslim extremism in the US, along with a spike in the number or arrests, driven by the arrest of 18 Somali-Americans. 2008, conversely, was unusually quiet. Analysis within those sets would come with that proviso, and analysis within this set should of course do likewise.

Of course this is going to be spun two completely separate ways: one, stating that this means the whole Homeland Security apparatus is unnecessary and an infringement on our freedoms, and alternatively, that this proves that the Homeland Security program is an outstanding success in deterring terrorism and defending our nation.

In Kurzman's book, The Missing Martyrs, he brings in global statistics, which are presumably massively harder to source and verify. His claim there is that of 150,000 deaths each day around 50 are directly connectable to Islamic extremist terrorism, and around 40 of those take place inside three nations - Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

(I haven't read the book.)

That said, it's likely that the less developed a nation's security apparatus, the less accurate its law enforcement statistics are likely to be. But it does seem to suggest that a similar pattern of rarity might be seen in a number of countries with a range of approaches.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:42 AM on February 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Hey, does this mean we get our civil liberties back? No? Okay...
posted by deanklear at 8:55 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


@running order squabble fest--thanks for the thoughtful post
posted by rmhsinc at 9:41 AM on February 8, 2012


Excellent post, thanks for this.
posted by Daddy-O at 10:09 AM on February 8, 2012


I'll just point out that the chance of any profiling that comes back with "watch out for white male veterans," has zero chance of ever being acted on, and leave you to ponder why.
posted by mobunited at 11:36 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am going to use this paper as an example of a shockingly misleading reliance on graphs. When you have zero to FOUR on your vertical axis, you don't report the fucking information as a fucking bar graph. Littering this paper with superfluous and misleading bar graphs might lend to science-y-ness, but it's just academic malpractice to present the "data" this way.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 11:43 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Document shows NYPD sought to spy on Shiites, based on shared religion with Iranian terrorists

Muslims petition attorney general for NYPD probe
posted by homunculus at 1:23 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


"As in previous years, non-Muslims were also
involved in domestic terrorism, proving once
again that Muslims do not have a monopoly
on violence. This study has not attempted to
analyze those cases."

Others, however, have.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 3:09 PM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seriously, with only 20 data points we're gonna do some serious, in-depth analysis and formulate a conclusion while still maintaining scientific credibility?

I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that using all 20 of the data points is insufficient to extrapolate to the 20 point data set? There is no inference here. They have all the data. This isn't sampling and extrapolating to a larger unobtainable data set. This is it. They have all the data. No inference. Just description.

I don't know your background but if you, or anybody reading this, are a university undergraduate take this bit of free advice: When you are asked to critique a research paper don't ever mention sample size unless you have a very convincing statistical argument to back it up. Why? Because you will always be wrong and among my social circle that is the equivalent of starting an essay with "Since the dawn of time..". Instant fail. (Also avoid saying the researcher should examin gender or populations other than undergraduates unless you have actual theoretical reasons for bringing it up).
posted by srboisvert at 3:52 PM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is an obvious bullshit paper, because everyone on MeFi knows that each and every single killing of an American on and after 9/11 has been performed by the US Government. I know this is true because I read it on the internet.
posted by CountSpatula at 4:14 PM on February 8, 2012


Arrest Reported in Suicide-Bomb Plot: "The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday arrested a man who allegedly was headed to the United States Capitol for what he thought would be a suicide bombing, authorities said. The man had been under surveillance for some time, an agency spokesman said, and was never a danger to the public."
posted by homunculus at 2:04 PM on February 17, 2012


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