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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Trump's travel ban 'does not match the evidence', says global terror monitor

The ban doesn’t block immigrants from countries with the highest levels of terrorism and doesn’t address the fact that 93% of terrorist attacks in the U.S. have been committed by home-grown terrorists

Ms Breslauer says Mr Trump’s comments about what he describes as the threat of ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ are “not helpful”.  EPA/JIM LO SCALZO
Ms Breslauer says Mr Trump’s comments about what he describes as the threat of ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ are “not helpful”. EPA/JIM LO SCALZO

Donald Trump’s anti-terror policies behind the travel ban “do not match the evidence”, according one of the experts behind the Global Terrorism Index.

Speaking after the US Supreme Court announced it will let the President’s travel ban on six mainly Muslim countries can go into full effect, pending legal challenges, Michelle Breslauer, director of the Americas Program for the Institute for Economics and Peace, said, “The policies behind the proposed travel ban do not match the evidence presented in the latest Global Terrorism Index.”

“The ban doesn’t block immigrants from countries with the highest levels of terrorism and doesn’t address the fact that 93% of terrorist attacks in the U.S. have been committed by home-grown terrorists, with the majority carried out by U.S. citizens or permanent residents,” she added.

The news came days after Mr Trump posted a number of anti-Muslim posts on his Twitter account.

The Institute’s annual report, which measures and offers analysis of terrorism, undermines the US President’s statements which sought to identify Muslim migrants as the source of violence and extremism in Western countries.

Ms Breslauer says Mr Trump’s comments about what he describes as the threat of ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ are “not helpful”.

Use the Global Terror Index map to see terrorism rates across the world

“What we’ve seen when we analysed the environments that lead to higher levels of terrorism is that we really have to pay attention to governments, to equality, to acceptance of the lives of others. When we have rhetoric that’s alienating that can also be at its worst damaging and dangerous but it’s certainly not helpful,”

She said it was too early to see any direct link between Mr Trump’s comments from last week with any acts of anti-Muslim hate, but said, “we do really need to consider the role in the United States in Western Europe played by social alienation and distrust in our political system and how that plays in to wider issues of violence”.

The 2017 Global Terrorism Index shows that since 1970, 93% of U.S. terrorist attacks have been committed by homegrown terrorists, with the majority being carried out by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Terrorism has risen 60% in the U.S. in the past year, despite an overall decrease in terrorism deaths globally.

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UK prime minister Theresa May criticised Mr Trump’s inflammatory online comments, to which the US leader responded by telling her to “focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom” rather than on him.

Ms Breslauer said that it was important to recognise the different and changing contexts of terrorism in the modern age.

The recently released Global Terrorism Index focuses mostly on data through to 2016 and shows that the terrorist activity in the US and UK are dissimilar.

“In the United States is we’ve seen terrorism increasing driven by lone actors. The United States has experienced 64 deaths in 2016 and when we look at the motivation of these attacks over the past decade in the US - even if we bring it up to the middle of this year - 47% of attacks had political or white supremacist motivations in the United States. 17% were related to radical Islamist terrorism,” Ms Breslauer explains.

“In the United Kingdom however there is a bit of a different story. Nine people were killed in terrorist attacks in 2016 and none of those attacks were directly linked to ISIS or ISIS inspired attacks. However in 2017 we’ve started to see a different story. Deaths increased to 42 in the UK and they were mainly ISIS inspired,” she adds.

The expert believes the US president’s comments “are really not capturing the complexity of this picture” and do not reflect that “the terrorism threat is multidimensional, it’s complex and it changes based on the dynamics of the country. In these broad statements are not all applicable”.