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
“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)
Decisions around terrorism – everything from counter terrorism strategies, anti-terrorism legislation, travel advisories, security recommendations, etc. are more often made on whims and special interests than they are research. The news and analysis, from organizations like the U of M’s Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism Global Terrorism Database are used to put forth the view that terrorism is a growing concern, while other empirical data shows that it is a relative small player in the overall misery on Earth. The Anthony Biglan looked at some of the peer reviewed research around terrorism to see how many studies have been conducted, the type of study designs and research methodologies that were used, and the preventative measures that may have been recommended. Terrorism related research seems scant at best even as governments are putting funds in place to better study and hopefully find ways to prevent terror attacks in the future.
“Jon Baron, who leads the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, which advocates for the use of randomized trials to evaluate government programs, reports that his organization has been able to identify only two experimental evaluations of antiterrorism strategies. One of them, a field experiment reported in a paper from a World Bank office in 2012, randomly assigned 500 Afghan villages to receive a development aid program either in 2007 or after 2011. The aid program had significant positive effects on economic outcomes, villagers’ attitudes toward the government and villagers’ perceptions of security. The aid program also reduced the number of security incidents, though that effect was not maintained after the program ended and was observed only in villages that were relatively secure before the program began.
Thus the study found an unequivocal but limited benefit of an aid program in reducing insurgent violence. I say “unequivocal” because randomizing villages to receive or not receive the aid made it extremely unlikely that differences in attitudes and security resulted from anything other than the aid program itself.” (New York Times)
Commentary on the (lack of) scientific research and studies on terrorism
The Economist magazine is by far one of the most influential global establishment publications. Its editorials should be considered a good representation of what is on the mind of the powers that be (or at least what can be divulged). They recently chimed in on the subject of “counter terrorism” as the attacks in Paris were sweeping through the policy circles across Europe and several other parts of the world. The future security policies, updated laws, changes to personal freedoms, wars, etc. may be driven by the views presented here. How will our world deal with security versus freedom? Can we fix this problem by spying on everyone? Carrot or stick? Time will tell but the Economist’s views and opinions on this matter should be of some concern to the average citizen and worth keeping track.
Economist magazine editorial on dealing with terrorism
“This week, the head of the European police agency estimated that up to 5,000 European Union citizens had joined the jihadists’ ranks, many of whom would return home as hardened fighters. Furthermore, the ascendancy of IS has presented a challenge to al-Qaeda. The brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo murders appear to have been operating under orders from the Yemen branch of the terrorist network, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, well-known for wanting to take the fight to the “far enemy” in the West.
The second is that commando-style assaults, such as the one in Paris, are easy to plan and thus hard to disrupt. They may not kill as many people as blowing up an aircraft, but the “propaganda of the deed” is achieved by paralysing ordinary life in a big city and dominating 24-hour news channels. Third, Western spooks say they are losing the technological edge that has enabled them to monitor the communications of potential terrorists.” (The Economist)
The last three days have been chaotic, dramatic and deadly for France. It started on Wednesday morning when two masked gunmen forced their way into the offices of the weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo and massacred 12 people, including one policeman and injured numerous others. In a related incident another policewoman was killed on Thursday and then today, four innocent shoppers and three (of the four) perpetrators were also killed. All in all, a low point in recent French history as the “homegrown Islamic terrorist” struck at the heart of France. Cherif and Said Kouachi were the Charlie Hebdo murderers and were killed north-east of Paris. Amedy Coulibaly is suspected of killing the policewoman on Thursday and killed four shoppers at Hyper Cacher, a kosher (Jewish) grocery store in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris. Initial reports were that he had an accomplice, Hayat Boumeddiene but there is no information on whether she was killed or escaped or even part of the supermarket murders.
For now, this ended today. There will be a lot of analysis of this tragedy, some blow-back in France, a lot of condemnation from around the world – but the question of how to tackle Islamic terrorism within free, liberal democracies will continue to prevail. The radical Islamists tend to use liberal laws that will extend their agendas, while preaching preaching that their religion supersedes all other rules and laws of their countries. France has a lot of “baggage” when it comes to its former colonies, especially Algeria and with it Islam, that will make things harder in the wake of these deadly terrorist attacks.
The 72 hour terror siege of France
“By attacking the freedom of expression, the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo killings – and, separately, the murderers of a young policewoman – struck a raw nerve that brought the people, this time united, into the streets with the sympathies of the rest of the world firmly behind them in support.” (Euronews)