Chances of being Killed in a Jihad Attack

The Cato Institute has presented helpful data estimating the annual chance of being killed by jihadists in Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom, as compared to in the United States. Though I think these analysts are a bit blasé about Islamic terrorism being a “manageable threat”, I agree that it’s important to keep perspective. Even in the highest-risk country (the UK), according to this analysis, your annual chances of being killed by a jihadist are woefully slim.

Over a year ago I explained the opposite problem, how the media downplays the jihad threat by misusing statistics and making pseudo-comparisons to other forms of terrorism to create a false impression that there is some ideological movement and threat equivalent to that of Islamic jihad. In fact there is no global “right-wing extremist,” “white male Christian”, or such equivalent threat in the same numbers or backed by a mainstream ideology. The reason why there are so many jihad terrorists is because their activities are required by Islamic law which derives in turn from very plausible readings of the Qur’an, Sira, and Hadith. And yet for all the routinely active jihadists, we should take some consolation from the following statistics from Cato, and not fall into fear-mongering.


Table 1: Fatalities and Annual Chance of Dying in a Terrorist Attack, 1975–June 20th, 2017


Annual Chance of Dying

United Kingdom


1 in 964,531



1 in 6,936,545



1 in 4,984,301



1 in 19,001,835



1 in 23,234,378

United States


1 in 3,241,363


Table 2: Annual Chance of Dying in a Terrorist Attack by Period

Annual Chance of Dying in a Terrorist Attack



United States

1 in 19,767,153

1 in 1,602,021


1 in 6,059,061

1 in 4,006,878


1 in 9,611,873

1 in 4,373,511

United Kingdom

1 in 590,389

1 in 8,796,562


1 in 22,145,655

1 in 15,858,016

United States (exc. 9/11)

1 in 19,767,153

1 in 19,772,468


1 in 17,338,091

1 in 47,429,484

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