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Islamic State Terrorism Is Serious But We've Faced Even Deadlier Threats In The Past

29/11/2015 09:26 | Updated 29 November 2015

Since the horrific terror attacks in Paris earlier this month much has been made of the threat the UK faces from Islamic State.

A total of 130 people died in the French capital killed by people not afraid to die in the name of their beliefs.

While IS's methods and doctrine unnerve their enemies, Western Europe's bloody and violent recent history of terrorism shows its streets are actually safer now than they have been for decades.

terrorism Click here for a zoomable version of this graph, produced for HuffPost UK by Statista

Dr. Adrian Gallagher, Associate Professor in International Security at Leeds University, said: "The reality is... Western Europe is safer now than it has been for decades and is far safer than most other parts of the world.

"At the broader level, the data supports the idea that we are now living in the most peaceful period of human history.

"These graphs support the idea that Western Europe is perhaps more peaceful now than at any point in modern human history."

An examination of global data lays stark the reality of terrorism worldwide and shows the level of the terrorist threat outside of Western Europe.

terrorism Click here for a zoomable version of this graph, produced for HuffPost UK by Statista

None of this should suggest the threat from IS is not real - the group's methods and ideology have been taken seriously enough to prompt David Cameron to recruit an extra 1,900 spies to help combat them.

Raffaello Pantucci, Director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute, said: "If you look back at historical attacks, there was always a plan to get away.

"They would shoot, blow things up but they would not plan to die. Nowadays you are dealing with people who are willing to die in pursuit of the action and that makes it much harder to protect people from them."

The death toll alone can never show the full picture of the threat from Islamic State.

Dr. Gallagher said: "Of course, we should never be complacent. One thing the graphs do not show us is how many terrorist attacks were stopped prior to them being carried out."

Here's a look at some of the most notable terrorist organisations who have perpetrated attacks in Western Europe since the 1970s...

  • Provisional IRA
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Active from: 1969 until 2005
    Motivation: The ending of British rule in Northern Ireland and the creation of a united Ireland
    Tactics: Bombings, shootings mortar attacks.
    Operated in: UK
    Killed in Western Europe: 621 to 644 civilians (1,840 civilians are thought to have died altogether during 'The Troubles'
    Notable attacks: 1996 Manchester bombing
    In this picture, trainee members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) practice guerilla warfare tactics at a secret location in the countryside outside the town of Donegal in the Irish Republic, 21st August 1986
  • Black September
  • Active from: 1970 - 1973
    Motivation: Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation
    Tactics: Kidnapping
    Operated in: Germany
    Killed in Western Europe: 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team
    Notable attacks: Munich
    In this picture taken on September 5, 1972 shows a Palestinian guerilla member (C) appearing on the balcony of the Israeli house watching an official (L) at the Munich Olympic village. As German magazine 'Der Spiegel' reports in its edition from June 18, 2012, German neo-Nazis supported the Palestinean assassins of the 1972 Olympic Games. A group of 'Black September' Palestinian guerrillas broke into the Israeli building in the Olypmpic village near Munich where 10,000 athletes were staying 05 September. Eleven Israeli hostages were killed in the attack.
  • Ordine Nuovo
    Keystone via Getty Images
  • Active from: 1969 - 1974
    Motivation: Far-right neo-facist group
    Tactics: Bombings, shootings
    Operated in: Italy
    Killed in Western Europe: 38
    Notable attacks: The Italicus Express massacre in 1974 in which 12 people were killed and 48 wounded
    In this picture, Public Prosecutor Vittorio Occurso (1928-1976) slumps in his car after having been assassinated as he left home in Rome by the Neo Fascist group.
  • Charles Martel Group
    Google Maps
  • Active from: 1973 - 1987
    Motivation: French far-right anti-Arab terrorist group
    Tactics: Bombings, kidnappings
    Operated in: France
    Killed in Western Europe: 4
    Notable attacks: Bombed the Algerian consulate offices in Marseilles in 1974
  • The Baader Meinhof gang
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Active from: 1970–1998
    Motivation: Far-left militant group in "anti-imperialistic struggle" with West German government
    Tactics: Bombings, shootings, assassinations, kidnappings, bank robberies
    Operated in: Germany, Sweden
    Killed in Western Europe: 34
    Notable attacks: The West German Embassy siege in Stockholm
    In this Oct. 31, 1968 file picture, Andreas Baader, left, is seen together with Gudrun Ensslin during the proclamation of their sentence in their department store arson trial in Frankfurt/Main, West Germany.
  • Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia
    NABIL ISMAIL via Getty Images
  • Active from: 1975–1988
    Motivation: "To compel the Turkish Government to acknowledge publicly its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide in 1915, pay reparations, and cede territory for an Armenian homeland."
    Tactics: Bombing, shootings
    Operated in: France, Italy
    Killed in Western Europe: 38
    Notable attacks: The 1981 Turkish consulate attack
    In this picture, Vahran Vahranian, Mihran Mihranian and Murad, respectively spokesman and members of political committee of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), during a press conference 15 October 1986 in Beirut. ASALA, one of the Lebanese-based extremist groups, claiming co-responsibility for a wave of terror bomb attacks in France, was demanding the release from prison in France of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, presumed leader of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction, Anis Naccache, convicted assassin of former Iranian Premier Shapur Bakhtiar, and ASALA militant Varadjian Garabidjian, jailed for a 1983 bombing of a Turkish airline counter at Orly airport near Paris. ASALA, the Marxist-Leninist terrorist group was formed in 1975 with the stated aim of forcing Turkey to acknowledge responsibility for the deaths of 1,5 million Armenians in 1915, to force Ankara to pay reparation and cede territory for an Armenian homeland. ASALA also conducted an armed campaign mainly against Turkish targets in the world.
  • Carlos the Jackal
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Active from: 1973 - 1994 (arrested)
    Motivation: Left-wing political terrorist and member of the PLFP
    Tactics: Bombing, assassination
    Operated in: France
    Killed in Western Europe: 11
    Notable attacks: The OPEC siege in which three people died.
    Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, also known as " Carlos The Jackal, " is pictured in an undated photo. Venezuelan-born Carlos, the world's most elusive terrorist. He went on trial in Paris on December 12, 1997, for the 1974 killings of two French counterintelligence agents. He was also been charged in the 1974 attack at a noted Paris cafe that killed two people and wounded 34.
  • Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari
    AFP via Getty Images
  • Active from: 1987 - 1981
    Motivation: Italian neofascist group
    Operated in: Italy
    Tactics: Bombing
    Killed in Western Europe: 85
    Notable attacks: The Bologna massacre
    General view of Bologna Central station and of wagons of the Ancona-Chiasso train pictured on August 02, 1980 in Bologna after a terrorist bombing which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200. At 10:25 am., August 02, a timed improvised explosive device (IED) contained in an unattended suitcase detonated inside an air-conditioned waiting room, which, the month being August (and with air conditioning being uncommon in Italy at the time), was crammed full of people. The IED was made of TNT, T4 and a 'Compound B', also known as Composition B.
  • Libya?
    Martin Cleaver/AP
  • Motivation: Military confrontations with US military
    Tactics: Bombing
    Deaths: 270
    Notable attacks: Lockerbie
    In this December 1988 file photo wrecked houses and a deep gash in the ground in the village of Lockerbie, Scotland, that was caused by the crash of Pan Am Flight 103. Although the now-deceased Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi accepted responsibility in 2003, doubts remain about the truth behind the disaster.
  • ETA
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Active from: 1959 - 2014
    Motivation: Basque separatism
    Tactics: Bombing, kidnapping, shooting
    Killed in Western Europe: 829 (343 civilians)
    Notable attacks: The 1987 Hipercor bombing
    In this picture, masked members of the Basque militant group ETA hold up their fists in unison following a news conference at an unknown location. A Commission overseeing the Basque group ETA's cease fire has verified on Friday Feb. 21, 2014 that ETA has sealed and put beyond operational use a specified quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives.
  • Al-Qaeda
  • Active from: 1988 - Present
    Motivation: Militant Islamist
    Tactics: Bombing, shooting
    Operated in: Spain, UK
    Killed in Western Europe: 255
    Notable attacks: 7/7 Bombings
  • Anders Breivik
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Active from: 2002 - 2011 (from planning to execution of attacks)
    Motivation: Far-right and anti-Muslim extremist
    Tactics: Bombing, shooting
    Operated in: Norway
    Killed in Western Europe: 77
    Notable attacks: 2011 Norway attacks
    In this Aug. 24, 2012 file photo, mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, makes a salute after arriving in the court room at a courthouse in Oslo. Breivik, who admitted killing 77 people in Norway in 2011, was declared sane and sentenced to prison for bomb and gun attacks. Convicted mass killer Anders Behring Breivik has applied for admission to the University of Oslo, testing the limits of Norway's commitment to rehabilitate criminals rather than punish them. Breivik wants to study political science, and prison and university officials say he could conduct self-studies in his cell if admitted to the school. University rector Ole Petter Ottersen told The Associated Press on Thursday Aug. 1, 2013 that inmates are judged by the same criteria as other applicants.
  • Islamic State
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Active from: 1999 - Present
    Motivation: The establishment of an Islamic Caliphate
    Tactics: Bombing, shooting, kidnapping
    Operated in: France
    Killed in Western Europe: 130
    Notable attacks: Paris Attacks
    In this photo, a man lights a candle which forms a peace sign during a candlelight vigil for the Paris attacks in the town square of Molenbeek, Belgium on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015

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