J. Grant Swank on the MichNews.com website published an article entitled Muslim Timeline for World Rule[1] which is an abbreviated version of a longer timeline published on the Obsession website entitled Timeline of Islamist Linked Terror.[2] These do appear to be timelines of terrorist acts that may be linked to Muslims, but where the timeline for world rule comes in I was unable to ascertain.

The first item on these timelines is the 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy by Sirhan Sirhan. How Sirhan who was (and is) a Christian could be part of a list of "Islamist linked terror" it is difficult to understand.

After just glancing down this list it was obvious that a box should have been at the top of the list saying "Readers Beware: We have an axe to grind!" as this was obviously based on selective manipulation and inclusion and exclusion of facts to prove a point. The point seems to be "Beware of Muslims" . Like my Grandpa used to say "figures don't lie, but liars can figure".

Both the shorter and longer lists on these sites did identify their agenda in the titles themelves. They were attempting to identify only acts of terror linked to "Islamists".

I was curious about the "facts" presented and went to the the U.S. Dept. of State website where I found a chronology of significant terrorist incidents, 1961-2003[3] This site had a disclaimer stating that the list was incomplete, which would at least warn a careful reader that it is not a complete list of all terrorist incidents. What isn't said is that someone (an individual or a committee) made choices as to what would and would not be included and these choices affect the overall perception of reality that the reader takes away. Even the decision to begin the list at the arbitrary date of 1961 needs explanation.

Between 1961 and 1999 there are a total of 129 incidents listed -- of these 45 were carried out by individuals or groups who were either Muslim or Arab. This would be 34% if this were the total of all such incidents and not just a sample. From 2000 to 2003 - 117 incidents are listed of which 101 were either Muslim or Arab. This would be a dramatic increase not only in incidents but in incidents involving Muslims and Arabs 86% if this list was complete. However, in just a cursory look at the list I found a number of significant incidents that were not listed. In fact this list is very limited as in 1990 there were 162 incidents[4] in South America alone.

Some attacks on churches were listed but none on mosques. Some assassinations were listed, but not others (e.g. the assassination of Lord Mountbatten by the IRA is not listed), in fact almost no political assassinations are listed. Civil rights murders by white supremacists were not listed. The attack on the USS Cole was listed, but not the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. Very few JDL and IRA attacks were listed. Some terrorist acts in which a particular group is only "suspected" are listed while others are not. There are no listings for terrorist acts against Muslims in China, Serbia, Russia, Burma, India, Thailand, etc. Almost every attack by a Palestinian on an Israeli is listed, but only one attack by an Israeli on Palestinians. Surprisingly, not even the 1996 Olympic Village bombing is listed. A few incidents that were not listed are given below.

Some of the other nationalities and religions involved in the crimes that were listed were: Puerto Rican, Israeli, Guatemalan, Japanese, Brazilian, German, American, Uruguayan, Irish, Mexican, Greek, Chilean, Italian, El Salvadoran, Colombian, North Korean, Japanese, Indian, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist.

The only conclusion to be drawn from this is that all of us need to be very careful in looking at any statistics or lists not to form hasty opinions based on partial or misleading information.

There is a wealth of information available to us today but it requires thoughtful analysis to make good use of that information.

It is obvious that terrorism is increasing[5] worldwide particularly since the start of the War on Terror.[6] Some have even pointed to Iraq as the new breeding ground[7] for terrorists. Suicide terrorism[8] is increasing and may be the only form of terrorism more common among Muslims which is vey surprising since both suicide and terrorism (hirabah) are forbidden by Islam. Terrorism is increasing and the War on Terror is expanding[9] and being called into [question.[10]

Attempts to sway public opinion by giving distorted statistics to create fear and hatred towards a particular group are pointless and a form of intellectual terrorism. This list on the MichNews site attempts to portray the villain as "the Muslims", other sites with other ideologies attempt to paint the villain as "the Christians", or "the Jews", or Israel, or the U.S., or colonialism, or ... It goes on and on and gets us nowhere.

The bottom line is that terrorism is always wrong. There can be no provocation to justify attacks on innocent civilians. Retaliation, revenge, or pre-emption are not legitimate excuses. Who carried out the first act is not important. Most often the religious affiliation of the perpetrator is not important except in their own warped minds.

We can continue trying to put the blame on "them" and exonerate "us" but it is not only a waste of time, but an evil distraction keeping us from getting at the root of the problem.

"Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." - US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Even according to this definition we must at least question the actions of many individuals, organizations, and governments, including the U.S. Government, under that definition.

Terrorism cannot stop terrorism. Only justice and spiritual solutions have any hope of decreasing the current world crisis. We can continue to look for ways to place the blame for what is happening on some mythical villain. The truth is that there is a dark side to human nature that we must confront.

Some terrorist events not listed on the Dept. of State website

Notes:

[1]. http://www.michnews.com/artman/publish/article_9990.shtml

[2]. http://www.honestreporting.com/obsession/timeline.htm

[3]. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/pubs/fs/5902.htm

[4]. http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/terror_90/latin.html

[5]. http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/0784F7E4- 0361-4D6E-BF42-240F7CD3C751.htm

[6]. http://baltimorechronicle.com/042605IvanEland.shtml

[7]. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/
A7460-2005Jan13.html

[8]. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/07/ 0729_050729_suicide.html

[9]. http://www.cato.org/dailys/02-08-02.html

[10]. http://www.motherjones.com/news/dailymojo/2004/09/09_410.html