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numbers can lie

Reader comment on item: Lessons from the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist List

Submitted by Diane (United States), May 1, 2013 at 11:51

Usually I think very highly of Mr. Pipes' analyses, but in this case he is engaging in numerical sleight of hand unworthy of him. Firstly, 31 names is not a large enough population to be meaningful in demographic terms.

Secondly, there's a simple explanation for the absence of non-Muslim terrorists from the FBI most wanted list: perhaps they have already been apprehended. Obviously domestic terrorists like Ted Kaczynsk, Timothy McVeigh or Christopher Dorner -- as well as Muslim ones like the Tsarnaev brothers or Nidal Hassan – are easier for the FBI to capture than foreign ones hiding out in failed or enemy states. It would be more meaningful to look at the number of terrorists killed, captured or still at large, rather than only those still on the wanted list. It is out of character for Mr. Pipes to invite his readers to engage in racial or religious stereotyping, but for him to do so based on partial data is especially troubling.

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Daniel Pipes replies:

The FBI listing is flawed, I myself pointed that out and your point about the skewing of arrests is also valid.

But the 31 out of 32 pretty accurately reflects the fact that something like 97 percent of the terrorist problem comes from Islamists.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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