Terrorism does increase with immigration — but only homegrown, right-wing terrorism

Terrorism does increase with immigration — but only homegrown, right-wing terrorism

Originally published by The Washington Post

Last month, Walter Lübcke, a conservative German politician who supported Angela Merkel’s pro-refugee policy, was fatally shot in the head by a far-right terrorist. The suspect has ties to neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists, and in 1992, he nearly stabbed an immigrant to death. Lübcke was probably targeted for his support of refugees; he received a barrage of right-wing criticism online.

Many people think that more immigration into Western countries leads to more terrorism, because immigrants from non-Western cultures are more likely to be terrorists. My research finds a very different kind of relationship. Immigrants aren’t committing terrorism in Western Europe. Rather, native citizens appear to be committing terrorism because of their hostility to immigrants.

Immigration drives right-wing terrorism

My study, published in the Journal of Global Security Studies, argues that grievances toward immigrants plausibly drive right-wing attacks. I began investigating this issue by studying the relationship between immigration and terrorism over the past couple decades in eight Western European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. I quickly found a strong pattern: When immigration levels to a country increase, the total number of terrorist attacks increased in that country as well.

At first glance, this might suggest that immigrants are committing the terrorist attacks. Determining whether that is true required digging into the data. Fortunately, the available data on terrorist attacks usually includes some information on the group or individual responsible for the act. The data set used for the main analysis is the Terrorism in Western Europe: Event Data (TWEED) data set, which uses newspaper reporting to create a list of terrorist attacks in Western Europe for five decades. This enabled me to see whether there was a relationship between immigration and all forms of terrorism, or if the ideology of the terrorist mattered. I use TWEED’s definition of terrorism as politically motivated violence against civilians.

After a closer examination of the data, I found this association is only present when looking at terrorist attacks by right-wing groups and individuals. There is no association between immigration and other forms of terrorism, including left-wing terrorism and terrorism by separatist groups, such as the IRA or ETA, the Basque separatist group. I found a similar relationship when using other data sets and measures of right-wing terrorism.

At first glance, this might suggest that immigrants are committing the terrorist attacks. Determining whether that is true required digging into the data. Fortunately, the available data on terrorist attacks usually includes some information on the group or individual responsible for the act. The data set used for the main analysis is the Terrorism in Western Europe: Event Data (TWEED) data set, which uses newspaper reporting to create a list of terrorist attacks in Western Europe for five decades. This enabled me to see whether there was a relationship between immigration and all forms of terrorism, or if the ideology of the terrorist mattered. I use TWEED’s definition of terrorism as politically motivated violence against civilians.

After a closer examination of the data, I found this association is only present when looking at terrorist attacks by right-wing groups and individuals. There is no association between immigration and other forms of terrorism, including left-wing terrorism and terrorism by separatist groups, such as the IRA or ETA, the Basque separatist group. I found a similar relationship when using other data sets and measures of right-wing terrorism.

At first glance, this might suggest that immigrants are committing the terrorist attacks. Determining whether that is true required digging into the data. Fortunately, the available data on terrorist attacks usually includes some information on the group or individual responsible for the act. The data set used for the main analysis is the Terrorism in Western Europe: Event Data (TWEED) data set, which uses newspaper reporting to create a list of terrorist attacks in Western Europe for five decades. This enabled me to see whether there was a relationship between immigration and all forms of terrorism, or if the ideology of the terrorist mattered. I use TWEED’s definition of terrorism as politically motivated violence against civilians.

After a closer examination of the data, I found this association is only present when looking at terrorist attacks by right-wing groups and individuals. There is no association between immigration and other forms of terrorism, including left-wing terrorism and terrorism by separatist groups, such as the IRA or ETA, the Basque separatist group. I found a similar relationship when using other data sets and measures of right-wing terrorism.

At first glance, this might suggest that immigrants are committing the terrorist attacks. Determining whether that is true required digging into the data. Fortunately, the available data on terrorist attacks usually includes some information on the group or individual responsible for the act. The data set used for the main analysis is the Terrorism in Western Europe: Event Data (TWEED) data set, which uses newspaper reporting to create a list of terrorist attacks in Western Europe for five decades. This enabled me to see whether there was a relationship between immigration and all forms of terrorism, or if the ideology of the terrorist mattered. I use TWEED’s definition of terrorism as politically motivated violence against civilians.

After a closer examination of the data, I found this association is only present when looking at terrorist attacks by right-wing groups and individuals. There is no association between immigration and other forms of terrorism, including left-wing terrorism and terrorism by separatist groups, such as the IRA or ETA, the Basque separatist group. I found a similar relationship when using other data sets and measures of right-wing terrorism.

This matters. There is little evidence to support the common claim that letting in more immigrants means letting in more terrorists. Furthermore, political rhetoric condemning immigrants may potentially stoke violence. Before Lübcke’s assassination, the far right launched a torrent of online abuse and death threats, including one by Lübcke’s assassin in a YouTube comment attacking Lübcke’s pro-refugee policy.

Immigrants don’t pose a security risk. Rather, right-wing extremists who hate immigrants increase the threat of terrorism.

Read more:https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/19/immigration-does-lead-more-terrorism-by-far-right-killers-who-oppose-immigration/?utm_term=.97311f443f98

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