Posts filed under “War/Defense”

ISIL’s psychotic ambitions

Terrorist rings come and go throughout history, and Da’ish (ISIL) is the latest to spread horror and fear to a marred civilization.  The research here (assembling thousands of data points from regional news and government sources) shows that terrorism is on the rise, squeezed in one location(s) at times but sooner or later spread out in others.  The savage barbarism in Paris, on November 13, resulted in 137 deaths.  And yet it is but a passing thought to the group responsible (ISIL), who earlier this year, carried out 50 other attacks worldwide.  In this article we explore over 45 years of terrorism, a sick anti-freedom gospel that has resulted in over 140,000 attacks around the world.

Here is breakdown of those attacks (including credible foiled attacks), based on the death count within each attack:

1%   with >25 fatalities per attack
43% with <25 but at least 1 fatality per attack
50% with 0 fatalities per attack
6%   with unknown fatalities per attack

Our research here focuses on the top 1% attacks, each resulting in >25 deaths.  These sickening “mass terrorism” attacks resulted in the loss of 100,000 people (less than 10% of all terrorism related deaths, since most attacks per above result in a small number of deaths).

In the chart below we show the evolution of mass terrorism (the top 1% of all attacks) across time.  We can see ISIL initiating attacks in 2013, and making large headway in 2014.  The broader behaviours  of all terrorism attacks (all 100% of attacks either by count or by deaths) follow a similar pattern to what is shown below.

What makes ISIL disturbingly stand out, versus other terrorist groups, is in the speed with which they have been violent on a mass scale.  Generally terror networks from a prior generation took years to create mass violence.  But ISIL, in only its first full year, has committed more butcherings than any other terror outfits had during their peak year.

Some of this result is the macro evidence that terrorism has spread to all parts of the globe.  While in the U.S., the focus of terrorism is on the outrageous Al-Qa`ida attack on September 11, 2001 (9/11), we generally see that terrorism globally has increased and accelerated since 9/11.  And this is in both the number of incidents, and the fatalities per incident.
But the American-driven “War on Terror” is still a partial triumph, to the degree that the post-9/11 attacks are mostly only in the Middle East and in Africa.  Notwithstanding the Paris attacks recently, both of the terrorism statistics have come down considerably, in coalition countries all over the Americas and in Europe.  To illustrate this, the chart below shows the annualnumber of terrorism murders for a dozen years before 2001, followed by a dozen years subsequent to 2001.

Now we showed in the top charts above that ISIL is top of mind to many Americans and Europeans, while Boko Haram is also known, but to a smaller degree.  Has our media and knowledge been impacted by where and whom have been the victims of these terrorist attacks?  In the global map below, we show the location of where the ISIL and the Boko Haram attacks have been since the beginning of 2014 (through a week ago in November 2015).

It is without any doubt that these two super monsters have operated in different spheres.  The Western media obsesses over ISIL only because their targets are “closer” to home.  Boko Haram is however equally heinous in their mostly globally under-noticed, terrorism and rampage.

Focusing on ISIL for a moment, given the recent Paris attacks that have moved many, let’s see how their number of attacks has evolved since the start of 2014.  We pay particular attention to the movement of the attacks away from their core base of Iraq and Syria, and the overall level of and trend in the number of attacks.  And discarded from attention, in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, was that just days prior coalition drone strikes are believed to have killed their most recognizable mouthpiece, the shrouded Mohammed Jassim Akdulkarim Olayan al-Dharifi (known as “Jihadi John”).

We see more information in the chart above that substantiates the early charts above.  That terrorism is unfortunately moveable.  We can push it away, and forget about it.  And that this sort of ugly evil doesn’t seem to be taking a breather, and sometimes the terrorism -let loose- simply returns.

Category: Think Tank, War/Defense


“When you got nothing, You got nothing to lose” Like A Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan I’ve been a victim of internet hate. Sometimes private, sometime public. Sometimes e-mail, sometimes on Twitter and other social networks, as well as nooks and crannies all over the web. My crime? Having an opinion and a status those complaining do…Read More

Category: Think Tank, War/Defense

A Year of Islamic State Terror

Click to watch the animation. Source: Washington Post

Category: Digital Media, Politics, War/Defense

Allies and Enemies in Syria’s Civil War

How confusing are Syria’s internecine political battles ? Source: Quartz

Category: Politics, War/Defense

The Drone Papers

Click through to read the whole story. Source: The Intercept

Category: Politics, Technology, War/Defense

Drone Strikes and Terrorist Attacks in Pakistan

Source: The Economist

Category: Digital Media, Politics, Technology, War/Defense

9/11 Remembered

Each year, I do my best to avoid writing anything new about September 11th. Instead, I will just point you to my experiences that day (which I wrote up the evening of 9/11). I was the Market Strategist for a firm headquartered at 2 WTC, offices on the 29th floor. I was fortunate to be in…Read More

Category: Really, really bad calls, War/Defense

Piketty: New Thoughts on Capital in the 21st Century

French economist Thomas Piketty caused a sensation in early 2014 with his book on a simple, brutal formula explaining economic inequality: r > g (meaning that return on capital is generally higher than economic growth). Here, he talks through the massive data set that led him to conclude: Economic inequality is not new, but it is getting worse, with radical possible impacts.


Source: TED

Read More

Category: Video, War/Defense

U.S. Military Leaders Support Iran Deal

Scores of high-level American military leaders support the Iran deal.  For example, the following 35 military officials – from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps – signed a letter urging support for the deal: General James “Hoss” Cartwright, U.S. Marine Corps General Joseph P. Hoar, U.S. Marine Corps General Merrill “Tony” McPeak, U.S. Air Force…Read More

Category: Think Tank, War/Defense

MIB: Leslie Gelb on Europe’s Decline and Policy Errors

  This week we have a special foreign affairs edition of the Masters in Business radio podcast, speaking with Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. Gelb also worked for the Defense Department and the New York Times. The conversation ranged far and wide, and looked at (among other things) the decline of Europe…Read More

Category: Podcast, War/Defense