Report: Iraq and Afghanistan account for 35% of last decade's terrorist attacks

The Global Terrorism Index, a report released today by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace, tracks terrorist attacks in 158 countries between 2002 and 2011 and paints and interesting and at times surprising picture of post-9/11 terrorism.

For instance, there's the dispiriting fact that the two countries where the United States launched wars in the name of fighting terrorism early in the last decade went on to account for more than one third of terrorist incidents during this period. More than a third of all victims between 2002 and 2011 were Iraqi and the biggest global rise in terrorism occurred between 2005 and 2007, which the authors attribute primarily to events in Iraq. 

While only 31 of the countries surveyed experience no terrorist attacks, violence was highly concentrated with just ten countries accounting for 87 percent of attacks:


North America was the region least likely to experience terrorism during this period -- Western Europe suffered 19 times more deaths -- and with notable exceptions like the 2009 Ft. Hood shooting, most U.S. terrorism is not tied to Islamic extremists or  international groups: 

"The attacks in the U.S. during the 2002-2011 period were predominately of a ‘domestic' nature and mainly committed by environmentalists, animal activists, racists, and anti-abortion activists."

As is usually the case with these reports, defining what counts as a terrorist attack or a terrorist fatality is a bit tricky -- and at times a little misleading. According to the report, the deadliest single terrorist attack in the last decade -- deadlier than Madrid, Beslan, Tal Afar, and Mumbai -- was a little-remembered attack by Maoist rebels on a Nepalese army barracks in 2004. The vast majority of the 518 fatalities in that attack were the rebels themselves.

The good news in the study is that the number of attacks seems to have leveled out since peaking in 2007. The bad news is that there were will still more than four times more attacks in 2011 than in the first full year of the war on terrorism.


Woodward strikes again

How does he do it? According to the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, Fox chairman Roger Ailes tried to get David Petraeus to run for president, via an intermediary. And somebody recorded it:

[I]n spring 2011, Ailes asked a Fox News analyst headed to Afghanistan to pass on his thoughts to Petraeus, who was then the commander of U.S. and coalition forces there. Petraeus, Ailes advised, should turn down an expected offer from President Obama to become CIA director and accept nothing less than the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military post. If Obama did not offer the Joint Chiefs post, Petraeus should resign from the military and run for president, Ailes suggested.

The Fox News chairman’s message was delivered to Petraeus by Kathleen T. McFarland, a Fox News national security analyst and former national security and Pentagon aide in three Republican administrations. She did so at the end of a 90-minute, unfiltered conversation with Petraeus that touched on the general’s future, his relationship with the media and his political aspirations — or lack thereof. The Washington Post has obtained a digital recording from the meeting, which took place in Petraeus’s office in Kabul.

For some reason, this bombshell story ran in the Style section. Why? More importantly, who leaked this story to Woodward? McFarland, after telling Petraeus, "I’m only reporting this back to Roger. And that’s our deal"? Someone looking to discredit Ailes? Petraeus, trying to make clear once and for all that he had no political aspirations? Somebody else who was in the room? Or did Woodward get wind of the outlines of the encounter, present it to Petraeus, and then encourage the former CIA director to set the record straight? Whatever the case, one thing is clear: Woodward has done it again.