Terrorism In Europe is Less Common and Less Deadly Than in the Recent Past -- And Doesn't Justify Ex

janklow Members, Moderators Posts: 8,613 Regulator
mainly for the included chart...

Terrorism In Europe is Less Common and Less Deadly Than in the Recent Past -- And Doesn't Justify Expanded Repressive Surveillance
The Paris terror attack that killed 129 and wounded over 300 in November was brought up three times during last night's Republican candidate debate, and obviously will continue to be used as a touchstone about an ongoing and unprecedented terror threat demanding firm actions.

The attack was certainly horrific and monstrous, as was the attack on Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine, that happened a year ago last week. And, as Reason editor-in-chief Matt Welch detailed last month, those attacks have indeed triggered immense civil liberties restrictions that the French political class seeks to make permanent.

But those atrocities were not, even within living memory, an unprecedented example of such chaotic evil in continental Europe that seem to demand an unprecedented response. Western Europe has faced, and survived, even more heinous and continuous patterns of multiple-casualty criminal terror attacks, most particularly in the 1970s.

This graph below, produced by Huffington Post UK shows an overall pattern in the 1970s of yearly terror deaths in Europe exceeding 2015's count, over 200 nearly every year. (The U.K., dealing with the now-defunct Irish Republican Army, always had the worst of it.)

The numbers revealed in that graph led Dr. Adrian Gallagher, associate professor in international security at Leeds University, to say that: "Western Europe is safer now than it has been for decades and is far safer than most other parts of the world."

Banks, train stations, public plazas, and airports and airplanes, were targeted in Italy in multiple-casualty attacks from the late '60s to early '80s, with the responsible parties including Palestinian and far-right groups.

While most individual terror incidents were not multiple casualty attacks in the Paris mode, Italy from 1968-82 suffered over 4,000 attacks on people and over 6,000 attacks on property by terrorist gangs.

France itself faced frequent terror attacks throughout the 1970s and 1980s as well. The overall casualty rate from such attacks was not staggeringly large in toto, though they included a 1982 grenade-and-gun attack on a restaurant that killed six and injured 22, and an attack on a popular retail store in 1986 that killed five and injured over 100. (The Paris attack in November was indeed the most murderous singular terror blow in modern French history.)

West Point's Combating Terrorist Center has a decent overview of the '80s terror threat in France, which came largely from Palestinian or Algerian related groups, and an assessment of that nation's counterterror tactics prior to this current wave of terror attacks.

Those French tactics include treating terrorists as criminals rather than enemy combatants, arresting or detaining on mere suspicion of association with groups thought to be planning terror attacks, agent provocateur infiltration and incitement to minor crime to speed up arrests of suspected troublemakers, and direct traditional "spying"—observing and recruiting/turning suspect individuals or groups. French intelligence agencies have almost zero public oversight or review on their actions.

Following is a quick reminder of some (this list is suggestive, not comprehensive) specific organized pre-ISIS terror threats Europe faced in that era, and a broadbrush look at how they were quelled. (For a more granular and wide-range look, Wikipedia has decent pages dedicated to French and German terror, to start.):


  • JokerzWyld
    JokerzWyld Members Posts: 5,483 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I remember reading about some of this in a few books I have. Many acts of terrorism happened during the cold war era. For example, in Italy the U.S. instituted a CIA program called operation gladio that targeted "communist" groups and sympathizers. These things happened all throughout Europe, but Italy is best known because there were so many formal inquiries on the matter. Agents and contacts blew up cars, communist headquarters, etc. This went on for decades.

    I also read about East/West Germany's conflicts. There many assassinations and acts of corporate and industrial sabotage. It was absolute madness.
  • janklow
    janklow Members, Moderators Posts: 8,613 Regulator
    mainly posted this up because do forget about all the international terrorism from the 1960s-1980s; obviously we're always focused on The Most Recent Things, but for some reason, people act like terrorism we had to give a ? about started on 9/11.