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September 14, 2001

Facts and Figures About Terrorism

By

The numbers coming out of what happened in New York and Washington last Tuesday are almost too big to comprehend: Thousands believed dead. Millions of pounds of rubble where the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon stood. Billions of dollars expected to be sent to New York as aid.

That's why Heritage Foundation analysts are trying to give these numbers some context. Below is a quick reference guide from Heritage's Center for Data Analysis (CDA) that includes figures and facts about:

The number of hijacking incidents from 1975 to 2000.

American casualties caused by terrorist attacks from (1995-2000)

Total anti-U.S. attacks in 2000.

The volume of domestic air traffic in 2000.

Casualty figures from U.S. wars and battles.

We hope you find this useful as you pursue different angles to a story that will go on for months.

However, if you need other data or need someone to answer a specific statistical question not included here, please call Dexter Ingram, Threat Assesment Specialist, at  (202) 608-6227. The Heritage Foundation has access to several government databases from agencies such as the Census Bureau, the State Department and the Department of Transportation-and can help you out in a hurry.


Number of Air Hijacking Incidents

Year

U.S. registered Aircraft

Foreign-registered Aircraft

1975

6

13

1976

2

14

1977

5

26

1978

7

17

1979

11

13

1980

21

18

1981

7

23

1982

9

22

1983

17

15

1984

5

21

1985

4

22

1986

2

5

1987

3

5

1988

1

10

1989

1

14

1990

1

39

1991

1

23

1992

0

12

1993

0

31

1994

0

23

1995

0

9

1996

0

14

1997

0

10

1998

0

9

1999

0

11

2000

0

20

Note: This does not include commandeering or bombings of airplanes. The difference between commandeering and hijacking is that a hijacking is defined as a case where a passenger takes over a plane or attempts to take over a plane after the doors are closed (even if the plane is still on the ground). 

Number of International Terrorist Attacks

From 1981 to 2000, there were a total of 9,179 international terrorist attacks (excluding intra-Palestinian violence), averaging at 459 attacks a year.

The number of terrorism attacks was at its highest in mid-1980s. The average number of annual attacks between 1985 and 1988 numbered about 630.

Terrorism declined in the mid-1990s and was at its lowest in 1998, when only 274 attacks were recorded. It increased in 1999 to 392 attacks, and 423 attacks in 2000.

Facilities Struck By Terrorist Attacks, 1995-2000

Businesses are the target of choice of international terrorists. From 1995 to 2000, an average of 67 percent of international terrorists targeted businesses. That's compared to only 7 percent aimed at diplomats and 3.5 percent at government facilities.

A total of 1,842 businesses were attacked abroad by international terrorists-compared to 200 diplomatic posts and 97 government facilities.

Only 48 military facilities, or less than 2 percent of the total number of attacks, were hit by international terrorists.

Of the roughly 2,850 attacks launched, 571 were aimed at other establishments.

American Casualties Caused by Attacks, 1995-2000

From 1995 to 2000, 77 Americans died as a result of international terrorist attacks. That's an average of 13 per year.

During the same period, 651 Americans were wounded by international terrorists, or an average of 109 per year.

Total Terrorist Attacks By Region, 1995-2000

From 1995 to 2000, Latin America experienced the most international terrorist attacks with 729. That's an average of 122 attacks per year. The year 2000 saw the most attacks in Latin America, when 193 were recorded.

Western Europe is second with 608 attacks, an average of 101 per year. The overall number of terrorist attacks there, however, has been decreasing from a high of 272 in 1995 to a low of 30 in 2000.

Asia has been seeing a rise in terrorist attacks, from 16 in 1995 to a high of 98 in 2000, for a total of 267 for the 6-year period.

North America has had the lowest concentration of international terrorist attacks. Only 15 were recorded from 1995 to 2000.

Total Terrorist Deaths from Attacks by Region, 1995-2000

Asia suffered the most deaths as a result of terrorist attacks; a total of 9,713 perished there from 1995 to 2000. Africa follows with 5,762 deaths for the 6-year period. The Middle East comes next with 2,190, and Western Europe with1,212. North America had the least number of dead, with only seven during that period.

Asia has the highest number of deaths in a single year for any region, with 5,639 dead in 1995. This is followed by Africa with 5,379 deaths in 1998.

 

Total Anti-U.S. Attacks in 2000

In 2000, 86 percent of anti-U.S. attacks occurred in Latin America. The rest of the anti-U.S. attacks came in Asia (4.5 percent), Western Europe (3.5 percent), Africa (3 percent), Eurasia (2 percent) and the Middle East (1 percent). This includes attacks against U.S. facilities and attacks in which American citizens suffered casualties.

A majority of the attacks were in the form of bombings (90 percent). Other methods used were: kidnapping (6 percent), armed attack (2 percent), arson (1 percent), firebombing (1 percent), and other methods (2 percent).

Businesses were the common target for nearly 87 percent of these attacks. Only about 3 percent of the attacks were directed at military establishments and facilities. Diplomatic establishments were next (1.5 percent) followed by government facilities that were neither military nor diplomatic. (less than 1 percent).

Domestic Air Traffic in 2000

U.S.-based airplanes-from commuter planes to jumbo jets-took off more than 8.8 million times last year, or 24,100 flights per day.

More than 80 air carriers, including freight, commuter, charter and major commercial transporters, departed from 565 regional and major American airports every day.

Major domestic passenger airline statistics:

American:       743,000+ departures

Continental:    397,000+ departures

Delta:              900,000+ departures

Northwest:      563,000+ departures

TWA:              274,000+ departures

United:            750,000+ departures

U.S. Airways   736,000+ departures

Airplane Accidents in the United States

There were 47 accidents involving airplanes last year, or less than one per week.

Only 21 of them were considered "serious" accidents, producing some kind of injury.

Only three led to a loss of life.

Most of the "serious" accidents occurred when individuals (usually flight attendants) were hurt due to moderate or severe air turbulence.

Arrests at U.S. Airports From Airline Passenger Screening, 1980-1998

Persons Arrested

Year

Passengers Screened (Millions)

Carrying firearms/explosives

Giving False Info

1980

585

1,031

32

1981

599

1,187

49

1982

630

1,314

27

1983

709

1,282

34

1984

776

1,285

27

1985

993

1,310

42

1986

1,055

1,415

89

1987

1,096

1,581

81

1988

1,055

1,493

222

1989

1,113

1,436

83

1990

1,145

1,336

18

1991

1,015

893

28

1992

1,111

1,282

13

1993

1,150

1,354

31

1994

1,261

1,433

35

1995

1,263

1,194

68

1996

1,497

999

131

1997

1,660

924

72

1998

1,903

660

86

Use of Airplanes for Long Trips (100+ miles), 1995 (most recent date available)

There were 1 billion person-trips* over 100 miles taken in 1995

Almost 16 percent of those were on airplanes.

Of those airplane flights, about 43 percent were for business purposes.

Those who are 65+ years old took only 8.3 percent of all airplane flights.

The majority of air passengers (65 percent) have household incomes greater than $50,000.

* A person-trip is one person travelling to a destination. For example, if a family of three flies from Albuquerque to San Jose, that is considered three person-trips.

Deaths from U.S. Wars and Battles

American Revolution (April 19, 1775-Oct. 18, 1781): 4,435

War of 1812 (June 18, 1812 - February 17, 1815): 2,260

Antietam (Sept. 17, 1862): 5,425

Pearl Harbor (Dec. 6, 1941): 2,388

D-Day (June 6, 1944): 4,900             

Iwo Jima (Feb. 19-March 25, 1945): 6,503

Inchon Landing (Sept. 15-22, 1950): 670

Tet Offensive (Jan. 27-June 1, 1968): 7,040

ALL STATISTICS IN THIS REPORT COMPILED BY THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION

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The Center for Data Analysisis the statistical department of The Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org), a Washington-based public policy institute.

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