Terror attacks, and how we Americans approach them

A Syrian refugee who was reportedly denied asylum and was about to be deported detonated a backpack bomb outside of a crowded festival in Ansbach, Germany, yesterday evening. Fortunately it appears that only the terrorist was killed, but 15 others were reportedly injured in the blast–he was apparently denied entry into the festival before he blew himself up, so this could have been much worse. Video found on the bomber’s cell phone shows him making a pledge to ISIS, so unlike the as-yet unproven motives behind the Munich shooter, this guy’s motives seem pretty clear. It’s possible that the decision to deny him asylum, which happened a year ago, contributed to his radicalization, but it’s equally possible that the decision to deny him asylum was made because he’d already been radicalized–although it’s hard to figure out why he’d been allowed to stay in the country for another year if that’s why his request was denied. German authorities say that he’s been in and out of psychiatric care and had tried twice before to kill himself, but frankly I think you can start to parse these things too finely. The guy pledged himself to ISIS before he tried to explode a bomb inside a venue packed with other human beings. He’s a terrorist.

Also, in Baghdad, an ISIS suicide bombing on Sunday killed at least 21 people and injured another 35 in the predominantly Shiʿa neighborhood of Kazimiyah (often–and incorrectly in my opinion–transliterated as “Kadhimiya”). And this morning, another ISIS suicide bombing in the town of Khalis (about 80 km north of Baghdad) killed at least 16 people. Khalis is located in Diyala province, which is shifting demographically but is still mixed confessionally, and the target per ISIS’s announcement was military, though women and children were among the victims. ISIS’s continued ability to strike inside territory controlled by the Iraqi government, particularly its ability to continue striking Baghdad despite having lost its nearby staging area in Fallujah, is troubling enough that the government of Haider al-Abadi might be well-advised to put a hold on its plans to keep advancing towards Mosul and put some additional resources into cleaning up its own backyard.

Also also, in Afghanistan, a new report released today found that levels of violence there continue to climb: <!–more–>

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan hit a record high in the first half of 2016, the UN has said, with a particular surge in the number of children killed or wounded.

The report, released by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Monday, said there were 5,166 documented civilian casualties in the first half of 2016, an increase of four percent in total civilian casualties as compared to the first six months of 2015.

One-third of casualties between January and June were children, with 388 killed and 1,121 wounded, 18 percent more than in the first half of 2015, a figure the UN described as “alarming and shameful”.

The number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan keeps trending in the wrong direction:

Source: UNAMA

None of these stories has managed to break through the “RUSSIA HACKED THE DNC” story that’s currently dominating the day’s news, but of the three I probably don’t have to tell you which one has gotten the most coverage in the US. This is a phenomenon to which I keep coming back here, but this time, via LobeLog, you can read FAIR’s Adam Johnson discussing it instead, and with actual facts to boot:

A survey conducted by FAIR of US media coverage of ISIS or ISIS-inspired attacks in Europe and the Middle East reveals a disparity of coverage, showing that European deaths are roughly 1,800 percent more newsworthy than deaths in the Middle East.

For the purposes of this survey, both articles and video reports were included. We chose the three most-circulated “traditional media” newspapers and Buzzfeed, one of the most popular newsites for “Millennials,” to get another perspective. The list was compiled using a combination of the Nexis news database and Google.

Building on a survey of media mentions from March (AlterNet, 3/31/16) of mass attacks on civilians that are either connected to or perceived to be connected to ISIS (note: The Nice attack has yet to be confirmed as an ISIS-inspired attack), one finds that a death in Europe, broadly speaking, is seen as 19 times more newsworthy as one in the Middle East. Setting aside Baghdad, which one could categorize as a “war zone” (unlike Turkey or Lebanon), deaths in non-Western attacks are nine times less likely to garner news coverage.


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