Terrorism risk – from the underwriter’s perspective

We have presented analysis and studies in the past which showed that as long as you don’t live in a handful of countries, the true threat or risk of terrorism is not quite as high as it may be perceived by the average man or woman on the street. But it seems that the real world underwriters of risk in our society – insurance companies – are of a different opinion in that they see the risk of terrorism increasing in the West (one should probably expect higher rates in future insurance policies). AON does seem to combine terrorism with political violence which may be civil disobedience or domestic protests which could be significant if there are any overbearing economic or social factors.

Increased terrorism risk in Canada

Increased terrorism risk in Canada

“Although the map shows a net reduction on country risk ratings worldwide – the risk rating was reduced in 21 countries and increased in 13 – Aon reports that political violence and terrorism risks is concentrating and intensifying around a smaller number of countries.

  • the 13 countries at increased risk from terrorism and political violence are Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Lesotho, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and Ukraine (Russia’s military manoeuvres and increase in military spending mean the potential for further armed conflict in the area – Ukraine and Estonia – is no longer unthinkable, yet the overall outlook in the rest of the region is moderately positive); and

  • the 21 countries at reduced risk are Albania, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Brazil, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Egypt, Fiji, Guyana, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Panama, Tunisia and Uzbekistan (South America sees the most positive results, with the risk level falling in seven countries across the region, while no countries in Latin America are rated at increased risk in 2015, highlighting the potential for business investment across the continent).” (CanaianUnderwriter.ca)



ISIS owns up to Texas cartoon exhibition attack

Garland, Texas hosted an exhibition on May 3rd where caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad were on display. Two heavily armed men attempted to attack the Curtis Culwell community center but were killed by a police officer guarding the perimeter of the location. The two terrorist roommates were from Phoenix, Arizona – American Muslim convert Elton Simpson and Pakistani-American Nadir Soofi – and proclaimed loyalty to the Islamic State (IS/ISIS). The fact that two heavily armed terrorists were brought down by a pistol toting Texas cop is either extremely good luck or a testament to law enforcement training. These two terrorists have since been embraced by ISIS as “soldiers of the caliphate” and the terrorist group has promised worse attacks to come.

Two terrorist were killed after trying to attack an exhibition organized by Pamela Geller

Two terrorist were killed after trying to attack an exhibition organized by Pamela Geller

Authorities said roommates Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi of Phoenix were fatally shot by a police officer when they opened fire with assault rifles in a parking lot outside the cartoon exhibit and contest. An unarmed security guard suffered a minor wound.

Court documents showed Simpson had been under federal surveillance since 2006 and was convicted in 2011 of lying to FBI agents about his desire to join violent jihad in Somalia. “I believe that perhaps he might have just snapped when he heard about the cartoon contest,” Kristina Sitton, a Phoenix attorney who defended him in the case, told CNN. Sitton said Simpson had never shown any desire to join violent jihad.

Soofi was a popular student at an elite school in Pakistan but struggled to adjust to life after moving to the United States as a teen, friends said on Tuesday. Soofi’s story appeared to trace a familiar arc for some Western Islamists – disappointment, alienation, and a search for belonging that ended with the embrace of militancy.

The shooting in Garland, an ethnic melting pot in a city of about a quarter million people, was an echo of attacks or threats in other Western countries against images depicting the Prophet Mohammad. (Reuters)


Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush takes position on terror

The 2016 American Presidential “sweepstakes” are already starting to take shape as the Democrat and Republican party candidates are starting to state their positions on domestic and foreign policy issues. Hilary Clinton is well on her way to be the Democrat party frontrunner but the Republicans are likely to have a few more in the running. Chief among them is former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. He was recently speaking to the the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting and told reporters that the current policy of isolationism with respect to Islamic terror has not worked. He believes that America needs to be more engaged and prepared for a longer term commitment – which may bring back memories of the regime of his brother, George W. Bush.

Republican hopeful Jeb Bush speaking at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce

Republican hopeful Jeb Bush speaking at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce

“It’s not some isolated thing. It is a threat on Western civilization, and take them at their word — they want to destroy Western civilization,” he told the Tribune-Review in an interview before his speech to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting.

Under Obama, Bush said, America’s strategy is “to isolate and not be fully engaged, because of the fatigue Americans legitimately feel about long-term engagements, in the Middle East particularly.”

“One of the first things we have to do is to get back into the game and develop coalitions to take these terrorist groups out,” he said.

Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf countries “are hugely important” as U.S. allies, Bush said, “with Egypt being perhaps the most important relationship that we have fractured.”

The United States should make clear that “we are going to be their partner for the long haul and not going to cut-and-run,” he said. (TRIBLive)


Cuba comes off the terrorist list

In a sign of the quickly warming relations between the United States and Cuba, American President Barack Obama has removed Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. This move comes on the heels of a historic weekend meeting between President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas which was held in Panama. The change in designation did not require any action from the United States Congress and was driven by the President, based on recommendations from the US State Department. The two American political parties tend to be divided on this issue with the Democrats in favour while a lot of Republicans would prefer a continuation of the hard line against the communist Cuban regime. So this change in designation will be used for domestic political purposes. It is unclear what recent terrorism activities have been supported by Cuba but the long standing sanctions, embargoes and this designation have been in place for decades (terrorist sponsor designation was put in place in 1982 at the height of the Cold War).

US - Cuba relations continue to improve

US – Cuba relations continue to improve

“Our hemisphere, and the world, look very different today than they did 33 years ago,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said in a statement.

While problems including corruption, violence and drug trafficking remain, every country in Latin America — except for Cuba — has a democratically elected government, and the violent leftist revolutions that once racked the region have long since petered out.

Cuba’s removal would leave only three countries on the list: Iran, Sudan and Syria.

In a brief statement issued late Tuesday, Josefina Vidal, the director of U.S. relations at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, offered guarded praise for the move. “The government of Cuba recognizes the just decision made by the President of the United States to remove Cuba from a list on which it never deserved to belong,” she said.

“As the Cuban government has reiterated on multiple occasions, Cuba rejects and condemns all acts of terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, as well as any act whose objective is to encourage, support, finance or give shelter to terrorists,” the statement read. (Washington Post)


Female terrorism

At least within modern history, the face of terrorism has been dominated by males. Women have been part of terrorist organizations, often in supporting roles and sometimes as direct actors when tactically prudent but the perpetrators have almost always been men (though their victims have spanned the sexes and various age groups). But the face of terrorism is changing as more women are making it to the ranks of terrorists. This has become more apparent with the tactics and success of ISIS/ISIL in bringing Muslim men and women from across the world over to the Middle East to fight in their jihad. While the profile of the typical terrorist remains the same, the question of why more women are joining terror organizations was recently tackled by Professor Mia Bloom of the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

The evolution of female terrorism

The evolution of female terrorism

“Recently, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria published videos depicting women with guns on social media. According to Bloom, this is a tactic that ISIS used to goad men into joining the fight. Women who join the fight are usually forced to go into relationships with the males.

There has been examples of using women as suicide bombers or fighters and posting videos and pictures in social media outlets. However, historically women have been a part of terrorist organizations dating back to the Irish Republican Armies and al Qaeda, according to Bloom. Terrorist organizations commit rape against women to have them join the fight because they feel they are damaged goods and they join a terrorist organization to make themselves useful.” (Cerritos College Talon Marks)