Report: Al Qaida kills eight times more Muslims than non-Muslims

A recently released and unreported report from West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center has some fuel for the struggle of minds and wills. Deadly Vanguards: A Study of al-Qa’ida’s Violence Against Muslims (PDF, 875kb) is a survey of attacks carried out by Al Qaeda that should be part of a counter-narrative to Al Qaeda’s broadly accepted proposal that they are the champions of Muslims. For too long we have accepted the propaganda of the enemy, allowing him to set the time, place, and vocabulary, all to his advantage. He declared the war was between us and them and we agreed. It wasn’t and it isn’t.

From the report:

The results show that non‐Westerners are much more likely to be killed in an al‐Qa’ida attack. From 2004 to 2008, only 15% percent of the 3,010 victims were Western. During the most recent period studied the numbers skew even further. From 2006 to 2008, only 2% (12 of 661 victims) are from the West, and the remaining 98% are inhabitants of countries with Muslim majorities. During this period, a person of non‐Western origin was 54 times more likely to die in an al‐Qa’ida attack than an individual from the West. The overwhelming majority of al‐Qa’ida victims are Muslims living in Muslim countries, and many are citizens of Iraq, which suffered more al‐Qa’ida attacks than any other country courtesy of the al‐Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) affiliate.

It is interesting to note that the percentage of non‐Western victims increased in the more recent period at the same time that extremist scholars, pundits, and supporters are questioning the indiscriminate use of violence and the targeting of Muslims. Al‐Qa’ida leaders stress that these individuals are not formal members of the organization, but recognizes their legitimacy as scholars and intellectual contributions to the movement nonetheless.

It is a short and required read. Supporting data fills most of the report’s 56 pages. See Deadly Vanguards: A Study of al-Qa’ida’s Violence Against Muslims.

3 Replies to “Report: Al Qaida kills eight times more Muslims than non-Muslims”

  1. My guess is that Muslims living in Muslim countries, especially Iraq and other hot spots, know this without having a study to prove it. So the interesting question is: Why doesn’t this engender more opposition to AQ than it seems to? Or does it create opposition that doesn’t voice itself because people are afraid of being next? Either way this makes me question the potential this has as a strategic counternarrative.

  2. Saddam, for one, created a culture of people spying on one and other for monetary gain and the ability to rise in a Baathist society. Neighbors turned on neighbors and only family could be trusted, perpetuating a tribal environment to some degree. In ’03 all the Iraqis wanted of us was liberation and a quick exit. We failed to listen and continue with our exploitations making ourselves targets of the so-called AQ. If a foreign force did the same in the U.S., but using the previously established Iraqi culture, would you care about the violence inflicted against the occupier or would you seek to protect those closest to you? It should also be kept in mind the “level of support” the U.S. provided in the last Shia uprising against Saddam in southern Iraq after the first Gulf War. Who do you trust when natural resources are the focus of wars?

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