CAIR Symposium: Statistics find no connection between suicide attacks and Islam

Editorial by Douglas J. Hagmann, Director

“Definition of Statistics: The science of producing unreliable facts from reliable figures.”  -American humorist Evan Esar

1 July 2007: In high-profile trials where money is not a problem for defendants, their attorneys are able to “buy experts” to counter almost any accusation presented by the prosecution. Frequently in such cases, a reasonable jury sees through the thin veneer of a desperate defense and uses their collective good sense to discount the testimony of these legal prostitutes. This was not the case at a symposium held in south Florida yesterday, where the politics and policies of the U.S. were blamed for all Muslim sponsored terrorist attacks over the last few decades, amid additional claims that “Islamophobia” is on the rise.

At a symposium on “Islamophobia” sponsored by the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the International Muslim Association at Nova Southeastern University yesterday, an American political scientist known for his work on international security affairs declared that it is politics, not Islam that is the underlying cause of Muslim suicide attacks. Robert Anthony PAPE, director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism spoke to an audience of about 150 people and stated that “the main cause of suicide terrorism is the presence of U.S. and Western combat forces on the Arabian Peninsula.”

According to PAPE, al Qaeda will likely continue to recruit suicide attackers as long as U.S. forces remain in Iraq and maintain a presence on the Arabian Peninsula. “Since 9-11, the pattern of attacks shows that victims are consistently Western civilians that have forces in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he stated.

Citing statistics from a database that he and other researchers created that tracks suicide attacks as they relate to geopolitical developments, PAPE noted that just three suicide attacks occurred each year during the 1980s. Those attacks rose over the next two decades, coinciding with the deployment of U.S. and other Western military forces to the Middle East and jumped to about 50 annually by 2002. He also compared the discrimination reportedly experienced by some American Muslims to the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II, but failed to substantiate these accusations.

Meanwhile, CAIR research director from Washington, D.C., Mohamed NIMER declared that “Islamophobia” is on the rise and Aisha MUSA, an assistant professor of Islamic Studies at Florida International University’s religious studies department, blamed the media for fueling misconceptions about Islam.

Unsurprisingly, no one at the CAIR sponsored conference blamed the suicide attackers themselves, or the Islamic ideology as their driving force.