Risk of being killed by a terrorist=1/2,000,000, by the driver of a car=1/15,000
Can’t we learn to live with the fear of being killed by a terrorist, as with the risk of being killed by a car?
Lets be rational: the risk of being killed by a terrorist in Belgium is about 1/2,000,000/year. We all live very relaxed and without fear under the continuous 1/15,000/year threat of being killed by a car. Couldn’t we do the same with the 1/2,000,000/year odds of being killed by a terrorist?
What happened in Paris is a horrible mass-murder, a tragedy. Here in Brussels, the days after the Paris attacks were rather surrealistic than anything else, with the sensation seeking, international media and some politicians, fully falling in the trap of the terrorists, doing their very best to intensify the atmosphere of terror as much as possible. I guess it was way beyond the wildest dreams of IS.
The only goal of terrorists is creating terror. We must not allow self-serving media and politicians to so massively support these terrorists by stirring up our fear out of all proportions. By going along with the war rhetoric of ISIS, and responding in kind, politicians might win votes and the media might win a few readers, but they knowingly support ISIS very much because fear mongering is on the top of ISIS’ priorities.
Let’s be sensible. When you leave your home, the risk of being killed by a car driver is hundreds of times higher than being killed by a terrorist. Does this knowledge keep you from taking to the streets, from going to the theatre, from driving a car, from travelling to Belgium or Brussels? Should we declare war on all those life-endangering, distracted, phoning, texting, slightly intoxicated, and speeding drivers?
· In 2014, in the Netherlands zero people were killed by terrorist, 137 were murdered, 600 were killed by cars
· In Belgium 4 killed by terrorists, 190 murdered, 700 killed by cars. Death caused by a terrorist attack is not even in the top 50 of leading causes of death.
· In France 1 killed by terrorists (In 2015: 152), 770 murdered, 3,500 killed by cars.
· In the USA between 16 and 20 killed by terrorists, about 12,000 murdered and 32,000 killed by cars.
The reaction of some media and politicians was totally hysterical and self-serving, when you compare the odds of being killed by a terrorist (1/2,000,000/year) with the hundreds of times higher risk of being murdered in Belgium (1/50,000),in the EU (1/38,000) or in the US (1/17,000).
Even if we learn all the lessons we can learn from the tragedies in Paris, nobody, no nation, can guarantee the personal safety of every citizen, even in a perfectly organized country. Every criminal fanatic can find a war grade assault weapon (in the USA even legally!) and start shooting around, or can blow himself up killing as many people as possible with a homemade bomb. Remember the bombers in Boston — 3 killed, 264 wounded- and Oklahoma -170 killed, 680 wounded- , Anders Behring Breivik on the island of Utøya -77 killed, 219 injured- and Roseburg -9 killed and 9 injured-.
Our security is not perfect, but the media-hunt (and politicians-hunt) for a culprit when something goes wrong is a huge disservice to the public. There is never one culprit, but always a combination of many causes in a very complex and totally unpredictable situation. Blaming and looking for a culprit prevents us from fully learning from our mistakes.
“War on terror” is a statement made for nothing but political reasons, to increase the citizens’ fear. In Syria and Iraq its war, here it isn’t. Here it’s a huge challenge for our intelligence people, security people and our police, where necessary supported by the army. Their work can be improved, certainly in this complicated, chaotic country with its 6 parliaments and with 19 boroughs and 6 police sectors in Brussels. However, even with a perfect organization of security and police we can only reduce these kinds of attacks, not eliminate them, even if we were to put a policeman next to every suspected person. In reality we need at least ten of them if we want to follow one suspect night and day. With 400 suspects this is not realistic, the more since the chance of a citizen being killed by a terrorist is only 1/2.000.000/year.
It is also important that we do not turn against the whole muslim community. They also suffer from this terror, even more than any other community. ISIS murdered thousands of times more muslims than non-muslims. Even in our western countries muslims suffer more than non-muslims, if we do not distinguish between them and the small minority of terrorist delinquent thugs and radicals. Right now, more than ever, we need to embrace and support the muslim community who practice their faith within the limits of, and in line with, our democratic values. An important part of the solution will come from them, unless we alienate them.
We should not forget that Western countries played a major supportive role in the creation of ISIS. They co-created ISIS. First of all by supporting Saudi Arabia all those years while the Saudis were spending billions of petro-dollars (that we paid them) to export the most radical and cruel version of Islam to thousands of Mosques all over the world.
Secondly by invading Iraq, based on falsified intelligence or plain lies and against all warnings. Do you remember “freedom fries” and “if you are not with us, you are against us”? It is the US that put the well-organized Iraqi army and security on the streets, losing their pride, jobs and income, to become the perfectly organized and well armed back-bone of ISIS.
The 1/2.000.000 chance of of being killed by a terrorist is certainly no reason to massively overinvest in security, to the detriment of so many other lifesaving needs of our citizens. Especially in preventive health care, the same amount of investment would save the lives of thousands of times more people than ISIS will ever kill here.
Last but not the least, the 1/2.000.000 chance of of being killed by a terrorist is certainly no reason at all to change our lifestyle, to act against our own values or to limit some of our own democratic civil rights and liberties.