Monday, October 29, 2018

IPT exposes how false reporting is used by Left to diminish threat from Islamic Terrorism

International Project on Terrorism dissects 'Global Terrorism Database Study, reaffirms threat of Islamic Jihad in America.

SPLC-Touted Terrorism Study Casts a Wide Net to Downplay Islamic Extremism

by Benjamin Baird, Special to IPT News, October 26, 2018

Looking to "blow off steam," a pair of teenagers broke into the Ohio Chapel United Methodist Church near Columbus, Ind. last year to steal propane tanks. The vandals turned crosses upside down, smashed windows, and even torched a pew stored in the basement.

Non-lethal incidents like church vandalism are a far cry from the bloodshed that occurred in the shadow of the rebuilt World Trade Center on Oct. 31, 2017, when ISIS-aligned Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Saipov drove a rented pickup truck down a crowded bicycle path, killing eight people and wounding 12. Yet, a Quartz report published Sept. 11 reviewing terrorist attacks in 2017 compares numerous low-level acts of vandalism to less frequent — but far more lethal — jihadist violence, to argue that most terrorist acts in the United States are motivated by right-wing extremism.

Analyzing data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), an open-source dataset maintained by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland, Quartz reporter Luiz Romero concluded that "almost two-thirds of terror attacks in the US last year" were perpetrated by right-wing extremists.

The left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which collects and distributes its own "Terror from the Right" statistics, was happy to run with Romero's findings. But a case-by-case review of the 2017 raw data finds that Quartz's study is incredibly flawed and misleading.

For starters, the conclusion that "nearly two-thirds" of 2017 domestic terrorism was right-wing driven is exaggerated. "Nearly" implies a rounding of a percentage point or two. But the actual figure of cases Quartz labeled right wing is 57 percent. That's still a significant number that shouldn't need padding.

But the biggest flaw is that the GTD isn't a very precise repository for terrorist incidents, conflating casualty-free violence with devastating, mass-casualty attacks. Between 1970 and 2016, 91 percent of GTD cases were non-lethal.

Of the 65 terrorist acts identified in the START data, 30 were arsons or property crimes. Muslim extremists did not commit any of them. They're still horrible crimes, and those carried out with the intent to frighten or intimidate a community are even more abhorrent.

But by counting these crimes equally with attempts at mass murder in a grand tally of terrorist attacks, Romero significantly dilutes the influence of Islamic extremism.

For example, he includes four attacks in the GTD database that were carried out with BB or pellet guns, including three "anti-Muslim" attacks executed over several days by an unidentified shooter who took pot shots at the Masjid Ebun Abass mosque in the Bronx. The suspect broke several windows, struck a worshiper in the neck and hit another man in the foot. There were no reports anyone required medical treatment.

In another case included as a terrorist attack, a "small-caliber bullet" consistent with a pellet gun or air rifle was used to shoot out the windows of the Lexington-Herald Leader in Kentucky. The rooms targeted were empty at the time of the shooting, and nobody was hurt. Law enforcement investigated the incident as "criminal mischief," and GTD researchers expressed doubt that it qualified as terrorism since "it is unclear whether the building was specifically or randomly targeted."

Quartz's conclusions are heavily skewed by arson-related incidents, which comprise 37 percent of the total terrorism cases. Half of all the attacks attributed to "anti-Muslim extremists," and half of the "anti-LGBT" incidents it includes involved fires. Thirteen of these arsons remain unsolved.

For instance, two months after a fire destroyed the Islamic Center of Lake Travis, Texas, Fire Marshal Tony Callaway admitted that investigators may never know what caused the blaze. Although Callaway pointed to local trash fires as a potential cause, the incident was still reported as coming from "anti-Muslim extremists."

Similarly, vandals spray painted "KKK" on the doors of a car before lighting it on fire in the small California town of Vacaville. "Anything's possible, it could be a case of mistaken identity, it could be targeted," Vacaville police Lt. Matt Lydon said. GTD analysts still labeled it a "suspected" Klu Klux Klan" attack.

This destruction of an empty car counts exactly the same in the Quartz report as Saipov's mass murder in New York.

The proliferation of offenses causing minor property damage within the database is "an effort to claim racially motivated (read: right-wing) violence," said David Firester, founder and CEO of TRAC Intelligence, who has criticized the GTD. This creates a false impression "that there are fewer instances of Islamist violence, or planned violence, than other sorts of terrorism, or suspected terrorism."

Although Romero doesn't provide a breakdown showing how he arrived at 37 right-wing attacks, he does share some clues. Filtering the database by motivation or extremist affiliation, Romero identified "right-leaning" cases as those "tied to racist, anti-Muslim, homophobic, anti-Semitic, fascist, anti-government, or xenophobic motivations." Conversely, he established that "left-leaning" attacks were "pro-LGBT, environmentalism, and anti-Republican."

Read the full article, with much more...