The State of Terrorism in the 21st Century

Since June began, Wikipedia has documented that 119 terrorist attacks have happened globally. Only 8 occured in the Western world – three in London, two in France and, two in the U.S and another in Melbourne, Australia.

The Global Terrorism Index recorded almost 32,685 people were killed in terrorist attacks in 2014, a jump of about 80% over 2013. The majority of these took place over 5 countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Syria.

It seems as though every time we turn on the news, there is some new terrorist attack destroying lives and society as a whole.

This video of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop sums up the world’s feelings – when will it all end

The West – particularly Australia – is relatively untouched by terrorism. As explained before, only eight of 119 attacks this month have taken place in the West. In Australia, terrorism has only taken 4 lives in two decades, not including Australians who were victims overseas.

Yet according to an ANU poll, more than half of Australian adults are concerned about a terrorist attack at home – and it was found that consistent public debate on the issue circulating at the time the poll was taken.

Greg Austin, Professor of Australian Centre for Cyber Security at UNSW, argues in The Conversation, argues that, “Public opinion in Australia has an exaggerated view of the terrorist threat inside the country… The anxiety is often unnecessarily fuelled by politicians and journalists… But the over-anxiety about terrorist attacks in Australia conforms to a more longstanding phenomenon of Australian insecurity and exaggeration of international threats in almost all quarters. It also comes from the exaggerated fear of becoming a victim of domestic crime.”

However, that doesn’t mean the West is untouchable. On our very own shores, Yacqub Khayre lured a woman to a hotel in Brighton, Melbourne. He shot dead a man who worked there, identified as Kai Hao, a 36 year old Chinese-Australian national who had recently married. Khayre then held the woman hostage. He shot three police officers before being stopped. It’s been investigated as a terrorist attack after a Channel 7 reporter got a phone call from a woman claiming to be “the Brighton hostage”.

A man then got on the phone and said, “this is for IS, this is for al-Qa’ida.”

This man was on parole, and whilst acquitted of terror crimes in 2009, he was known to have links of a Somali-based Islamic State terror group who planned an attack on the Holsworthy army barracks.

Investigators believe this was all done in order to kill anti-terror police.

The woman held hostage will never be the same. Neither will Kai Hao’s family, or the officers on scene. The effects of terrorism can be devastating, and it is horrific to think that there are people out there who wish to do the world harm.

One of the worst terrorist attacks of the month occurred in three different cities in Pakistan. According to the LA Times, on the eve of Eid, a suicide bomber in Quetta killed 12. Twin blasts in the market city of Parachinar led to a death toll of 67. Gunmen in Karachi attacked police, killing four of them.

Amid Ali was near the market place attack. He said, “Everyone was screaming as if it was doomsday.”

This was a devastating attack, yet it was hardly reported on by Western media. Should terrorism around the world not gain equal coverage? We are so focused on what happens to us, but what about the rest of the world? So often we talk about lives having equal value, but how little do we show it?

We in the West live in constant fear of terrorism – but it is a reality for people living in the Middle East. Yet, what happens to them is often overlooked by the Western world. What happens goes unreported or under reported, depending on the size of the death toll.

And this is what baffles me so completely. With the increasing power of the Islamic State, and many associating them with terror in the West, Islam has risen to the forefront of political debate. However, much of the population of the Middle East is Muslim. With the majority of the attacks taking place in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Syria – how can anyone say that terrorism has a religion? These people who commit these atrocities do it for themselves – not in the name of anyone else. They attack people of all religions, sexual orientations, race and age. They kill senselessly, just to kill,

The impact of terrorism runs so deep, that it is idiotic to categorise it. Terrorism affects us all – and mourning for those who have been lost seems to never end, but just to ease our own pain, doesn’t mean we should ignore the pain of those in our immediate sphere.

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