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"Yes, the ISIS threat to America is very real."
"ISIS video threatens to attack New York City."
"Face up to reality of ISIS' expanding threat."
"Former CIA director: ISIS will strike America."
These headlines rightly reflect a world shocked by recent events.
The series of terror attacks in Paris that left at least 129 people dead was devastating. It hit many Westerners in a way that similar attacks in other parts of the world just don't, attacks like the Beirut bombing that occurred a day before the Paris massacres, killing up to 43. Like 9/11 before it, the Paris attacks sewed both heartbreak and terror into the hearts of Europeans, North Americans and Australians. As we go about our daily lives, enjoying concerts, eating out, attending sports matches, walking home from work, shopping for a favorite meal to prepare for our partner, we may be killed by terrorists.
It's hard to see the Paris attacks as anything other than a series of events that changed the world forever, that will come to define what happens over the coming months and years. ISIS, it's clear, isn't done yet. The Islamic terror group that has managed to seize a frighteningly large amount of territory won't be satisfied until the rest of us, all who stand for a different way of life, are dead or half-frightened to death.
How Frightened Should We Really Be, Though?
The Global Terrorism Index 2015 shows that the number of people who lost their lives to terrorism reached a new height in 2014, with a record 32,600 people being killed — an increase of 80 percent compared to 2013. The Global Terrorism Index reveals a clear upward trend in deaths from terrorism ever since 9/11, but it also reveals that the vast majority of those deaths occurred in only five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria.
ISIS and Boko Haram, the Nigerian terror group that pledged allegiance to Islamic State, were jointly responsible for 51 percent of all deaths caused by terrorism in 2014.
Paris will change the figures for 2015, but the overall picture still remains the same. While the risk is real, we live in a world where any number of other things are much more likely to cost you your life than Islamic State.
On a worldwide scale, an estimated 1 in 20,000,000 people are killed by terrorist attacks a year. You are 80 times as likely to lose your life in a meteor impact, 147 times more likely to be killed being struck by lightening, 167 times more likely to die in an Earthquake, and 250 times more likely to die during or from the consequences of a volcanic eruption. You are also 1,000 times more likely to die in a plane crash, 66,666 times more likely to die from a non-terrorist gunshot, and 200,000 times more likely to perish in a car accident. A recent report even indicated that US citizens are 55 times more likely to die at the hands of a US police officer than from a terrorist attack!