Terrorism In the West Has Been On a Steady Decline—Until Last Year

Over at the Upshot, Margot Sanger-Katz shows us where terrorist attacks are a big problem:

Attacks on targets in the West are close to zero. So let’s zoom in 100x or so:

Terrorist fatalities went up substantially in 2015, and probably in 2016 as well. But generally speaking, the trend has been downward over the past 40 years.

This will come as a surprise to some, but al-Qaeda and ISIS are not the first terrorist organizations in history. The 70s saw a huge outbreak of leftist terrorism in Europe, and the 80s suffered through an outbreak of terrorism from groups associated with Palestinians. It was bad enough that it became a minor staple in science fiction. I remember that future worlds in which terrorism was widespread became a common trope in the late 70s and early 80s. But terrorist attacks slowly faded away and continued to decline in the aughts with the obvious exception of 9/11.

So are we now entering a third wave of modern-era terrorism that claims a large number of victims in Europe and North America? Maybe. One or two years is not a trend, but they might be the beginning of one.