I have seen many articles in favor of the idea that Islamic terrorism is not that dangerous compared to other types, like separatism. Like this. Many mention an FBI study which shows data only until 2005.

But my question is not about the number of acts of terrorism carried out. It is about how many people each type of separatism kills or injures. I could not find any detailed overviews that show comparisons of how many people were victims to islamic bombing, separatist attacks, etc. Globally, or in USA, or in EU. How many people die worldwide and in developed countries from islamic acts of terrorism compared to non-islamic one?

I'm asking this because many people say: "yes, only 6% of terrorist attacks are Muslim and religiously motivated. But these attacks take many lives at once, while all these 94% of other attacks barely leave any victims. Therefore, islamic terrorism is more dangerous than acts of terrorism carried out by Jewish groups or separatists." Is there any comprehensive proof to debunk this myth, provided it is indeed a myth?

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    This is also a tricky issue since "terrorism" is subject to interpretation. Apr 19, 2016 at 20:45
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    Related to subjectivity, you should note that ISIS calls itself a state, which would make their acts war crimes, not terrorism (since most define terrorism as acts perpetrated by non-state actors). I'm not saying that I promote that interpretation, just that it is a matter of interpretation. Apr 19, 2016 at 20:52
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    Framing is absolutely the problem, as very often the definition is color coded -- White/christian? "Disturbed loner" / "Mentally ill" / "isolated incident". Black? "Thug". Brown? "ISLAMIC TERRORISM!" Apr 19, 2016 at 21:54
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    @DJClayworth That's the point. I haven't found anyone saying that islamic terrorism takes only 6% of victims. And that causes an opinion that, even though only 6% of terrorist attacks are islamic-radicalist, the majority of victims (compared to other types of terrorism) are caused by these acts of terrorism, because "each islamic bombing or shooting takes hundreds of lives, while other acts of terrorism kill maybe one or two or none". This is what I want to put to test.
    – Highstaker
    Apr 20, 2016 at 6:51
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    Are all people equal, or do you only care about people that are like yourself? Most terrorism does not get reported unless a "western" person is effected. Apr 20, 2016 at 11:42

1 Answer 1


A World of Terror by Periscopic provides some good visualizations of the data from the Global Terrorism Database.

I cannot conduct a full-fledged research at this point, but using the "most victims" view, showing the 25 groups causing the most casualties (which account for 56% of all terrorist casualties), I count:

  • for ISIS, Taliban, TTP, Al-Qa'ida, Boko Haram, AQAP: 31,547 killed.
  • for the other groups listed among the top 25 (nationalist, seperatist etc.): 52,349 killed.

Note that this might be skewed big time as 44% of all casualties are not accounted for, but I could not find out how to query the GTD for absolute numbers.

These are numbers for the time range 1970-2013.

  • You should also note that ISIS's numbers have gone up in the past few years. Apr 20, 2016 at 15:43
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    @called2voyage: I deliberately left any conclusions out of it. I just linked to numbers.
    – DevSolar
    Apr 20, 2016 at 16:19
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    I'm not talking about conclusions. I'm talking about numbers. Since 2013 ISIS's victim count has climbed considerably. Apr 20, 2016 at 16:20
  • @called2voyage: Which is not covered by the numbers I linked.
    – DevSolar
    Apr 20, 2016 at 16:21
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    "top 25%" should be "top 25".
    – Tgr
    Mar 27, 2017 at 7:03

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