Seumas Milne’s extraordinary duplicity on the nature of terrorist threats in Europe

You’d be hard pressed to find a  more perfect illustration of ideologically driven obfuscation regarding the threat posed by Islamist inspired terrorism – even at the Guardian – than Associate Editor Seumas Milne’s latest piece.

In, “In his rage against Muslims, Norway’s killer was no loner.“, July 28, Seumas asserts “the continuum between the poisonous nonsense commonplace in the mainstream media in recent years, the street slogans of groups like the EDL, [the rise of right wing parties in Europe] and Breivik’s outpourings is unmistakable.”

Milne then claims:

“In reality, as Europol figures demonstrate, the overwhelming majority of terror attacks in Europe in recent years have been carried out by non-Muslims.”

Interestingly, Milne’s link goes to an opinion piece in Al-Jazeera titled “Nationalists pose bigger threat than al-Qaeda“, which quotes Mehdi Hasan – who advocated for the end of Jewish state in a 2009 CiF piece – characterizing the EU figures in an essay in The New Statesmen. 

However, according to the official EU Law Enforcement Agency report he alludes to, during 2008, “359 individuals were tried on terrorism charges in EU member states in a total of 187 proceedings. Of 384 [terrorism related] verdicts which were pronounced in 2008, 50 percent were related to Islamist terrorism,” a staggering percentage when you consider how relatively small the percentage of Muslims are to the total population in most European states.

Indeed, the EU report notes that “states continue to face a high level threat from Islamists” – terrorists, the report notes, who “aim at causing indiscriminate mass casualties.” Further, it states that “the number of persons associated with ‘home-grown’ Islamist terrorist groups is rising in the EU.”

To provide some sense of proportion, the report shows that, between 2006 and 2008, the number of Islamists arrested on terror related charges was 645, while Right Wing Extremists arrested for terror charges was 59.

In the U.S. the disproportionate number of terror attacks or plots motivated by radical Islam is even more stark. (See here and here).

Moreover, according to the FBI, out of nearly 15,000 people killed worldwide by terrorist attacks in 2009, over 60% of the perpetrators were Islamic extremists.

Milne also warns of the “the rise of Islamophobia in Europe and the US”, while the data completely contradicts this.

In the US, Jews remain six times more likely than Muslims to be the target of hate crimes, figures consistent with a recent report (covering the last eight years) dispelling the myth of “increasing Islamophobia” in the U.S. 

While in Europe, a Pew Global Survey demonstrated that the percentage of Europeans holding positive views towards Muslims has actually risen over the last five years.

Of course, Islamism doesn’t represent the only terrorist threat in Europe, but to deny that attacks inspired by Islamist ideology represents a disproportionate element of that threat is to engage in rank dishonesty.

It’s not surprising that an extremist like Milne – who has glorified terrorist movements in Kabul, Baghdad, and “Palestine”, referring to them as “anti-imperialists” and “resistance movements” – would engage in such polemical malfeasance.

But, it’s scary to ponder how many Guardian readers will no doubt meekly accept his profound distortions regarding the genuine dangers, to the democratic West, posed by Islamist-inspired terrorism. 

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