According to a new study from the Institute for Economics & Peace, 2013 saw a 60% rise in the number of people killed in terrorist-related incidents from the year before. Nearly 18,000 people were killed by terrorists last year, a five-fold increase from 2000. If there was ever any doubt that Islamic extremism was stronger than ever, this report should put those doubts to bed. A full two-thirds of the deaths came at the hands of just four terror groups: ISIS, al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and the Taliban. 80 percent of the deaths were limited to five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
The report comes just as Israeli officials are busy cleaning up the aftermath of a brutal synagogue attack that left five dead and seven others wounded. Though a small attack in the grand scheme of terror, it nevertheless shocked officials in both Jerusalem and the United States in its sheer audacity. Many experts say the attack, which was carried out by a couple of Palestinian cousins, is another sign that terrorism is beginning to take a new form. Lone wolves, not officially connected to any particular cell, may be the West’s most pressing problem when it comes to Islamic violence.
Part of the problem is that Western governments are fighting this war with at least one hand tied behind their backs. Our commitment to fighting ISIS using only airstrikes is one example of this. But the things we hear from this administration are just as dangerous. When Western leaders like Obama spend much of their efforts denouncing these terrorists as “radicals” that have no connection to “real Islam,” we lose sight of the facts. These terrorist organizations are most certainly based in Islam, regardless of how many people say otherwise. They may interpret the Quran differently than many of the world’s Muslims, but they are working from the same verses.
If we do not confront this enemy with the full resources available to us, we risk dragging the war out beyond any of our lifetimes. And the longer it goes, the more entrenched the next generation of Muslims will be. Every year the United States, Britain, Israel, and other Western governments fail to slam the lid on this evil ideology, the stronger it grows. And the problem is not limited to ISIS and other officially-labeled terrorist organizations. Not by a long shot.
It’s time to launch a war on fundamentalist Islam itself. That extends well beyond the Taliban. It includes the Royal government of Saudi Arabia (recently implicated by Zacarias Moussaoui as having financed aspects of the 9/11 attacks), Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, and other countries where Islamic rule has proven to be a breeding ground for terrorists. These countries, of course, are near the top of the list when it comes to human rights violations as well.
We must treat this ideology as the disease that it is. The more we appease and coax and do battle only when there is no other choice, the more ground we lose. When it comes to attacks on American soil, we’ve been very fortunate in the years since 9/11. I’m afraid that if we continue this path of “there must be a middle ground” pacification, our luck will soon run out.