Peter Bergen: The White House's list of 78 terror attacks is devoid of evidence for President Trump's immigration order
Few who made attacks came from those countries; French, US citizens were responsible for more attacks, list shows
Editor’s Note: Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. He is the author of “United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists.”
The White House’s list of 78 “major terrorist attacks targeting the West” is strikingly devoid of evidence to support President Trump’s halt to immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations.
Conspicuous by their absence on the White House list of terrorists carrying out major attacks against Western targets were Iraqis, Somalis, Sudanese and Yemenis, who are from four of the seven Muslim countries that the Trump administration is seeking to suspend travel from. (Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said there were no Libyans on the White House list of attackers. This article has been updated to reflect the omission.)
Instead, the incidents listed on the White House terrorism list identified France, the United States and Belgium as the countries supplying the most anti-Western terrorists.
With great fanfare on Monday the White House released a list of 78 terrorist attacks since September 2014. A White House official described them as “major terrorist attacks targeting the West.”
The list was released after President Trump’s claim that the media is under-covering terrorist attacks, a contention that is not borne out by the evidence.
The White House’s own terrorism list underlines the arbitrary nature of the travel ban because, by the White House’s own account, the countries that are generating the most significant number of terrorists threatening the West are in the West.
The list also underlines the fact that it is American citizens who largely foment terrorism in the United States. This is also the case in countries such as France and Belgium, where it is French and Belgian citizens who are often the ones conducting significant acts of terrorism.
Of the total of 90 terrorists on the White House list, at most nine are from travel ban countries.
Indeed, 50 of the terrorists — more than half – are from Christian-majority countries in the West.
On the list, which includes the identities of attackers where they are known, France leads the way with 16 French terrorists, followed by the United States with 13 American terrorists, 11 of whom are US citizens and two of whom are legal permanent residents.
Of these 29 American and French terrorists, only two even have family origins in travel ban countries and they are both from Somalia.
Belgium comes in third place with seven terrorists.
In descending order after that are:
–Libyans and Bengalis are tied with 5,
–Syrians, Algerians and Indonesians are tied with 3 each;
–Afghans, Australians, Bosnians, Canadians, Danes, Germans, Russians and Turks are tied with two each and
–One each from Chad, Egypt, the Emirates, Iran, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Pakistan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
These findings may cause a problem for the White House as it makes the argument that citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen are particularly likely to foment anti-Western terrorism, when the White House’s own terrorism list demonstrates that this is not the case.
For example, an unspecified number of Filipinos participated in a botched attempt to blow up a bomb outside the US embassy in Manila last year.
In 15 of the 78 attacks the perpetrators have not been identified.
I took the White House terrorism list and grouped it by nationalities below. The countries with the largest number of identified terrorists are at the beginning, while attacks where the perpetrator was not identified are listed at the end. The wording added by me is in boldface.
TARGET: Three police officers wounded in knife attack
ATTACKER: Bertrand Nzohabonayo (French citizen, convert from Burundi)
TARGET: One police officer and four hostages killed in shooting at a kosher supermarket
ATTACKER: Amedy Coulibaly (French citizen born in France, family from Mali)
TARGET: Two French soldiers wounded in knife attack outside a Jewish community center
ATTACKER: Moussa Coulibaly (French originally from Mali)
TARGET: One civilian killed in beheading and explosion at a chemical plant
ATTACKER: Yasin Salhi (French of Moroccan-Algerian descent)
TARGET: One police officer and one civilian killed in knife attack
ATTACKER: Larossi Abballa (French, born in France, family origin not clear)
TARGET: One priest killed in knife attack
ATTACKERS: Adel Kermiche (French-Algerian) and Abdel Malik Nabil Petitjean (French, from eastern France)
TARGET: One police officer wounded in raid after VBIED failed to detonate at Notre Dame Cathedral
ATTACKERS: Sarah Hervouet, Ines Madani, and Amel Sakaou (French, family origins French or unclear. )
TARGET: Two killed and one wounded in knife attack at a hostel frequented by Westerners
ATTACKER: Smail Ayad (French, family origin unclear)
TARGET: At least 129 killed and approximately 400 wounded in series of shootings and IED attacks
ATTACKERS: Brahim Abdelslam, (French, Moroccan-Algerian family) Saleh Abdeslam, (French, Moroccan descent) Ismail Mostefai, (French, family origin not clear) Bilal Hadfi, (French, Moroccan descent) Samy Amimour, (French, Algerian descent) Foued Mohamed Aggad, (French, Algerian-Moroccan descent)
NEW YORK CITY, NY, USA
TARGET: Two police officers wounded in knife attack
ATTACKER: US person (American citizen, African-American)
GARLAND, TX, USA
TARGET: One security guard wounded in shooting at the Prophet Muhammad cartoon event
ATTACKERS: Two US persons (Americans, one had a father from Pakistan, the other was African-American)
BOSTON, MA, USA
TARGET: No casualties; one police officer attacked with knife
ATTACKER: US person (American, African-American)
MERCED, CA, US
TARGET: Four wounded in knife attack on a college campus
ATTACKER: US person (American, family originally from Pakistan)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA
TARGET: 14 killed and 21 wounded in coordinated firearms attack
ATTACKERS: Two US persons (American citizen whose family emigrated from Pakistan and legal permanent resident, originally from Pakistan.)
TARGET: One police officer wounded in shooting
ATTACKER: US person (American, African-American)
COLUMBUS, OH, US
TARGET: Four civilians wounded in machete attack at a restaurant
ATTACKER: US person (American, originally from Guinea)
ORLANDO, FL, US
TARGET: 49 killed and 53 wounded in shooting at a nightclub
ATTACKER: US person (American, family originally from Afghanistan.)
ST. CLOUD, MN, US
TARGET: 10 wounded in knife attack in a mall
ATTACKER: Dahir Ahmed Adan (American, family originally from Somalia.)
NEW YORK, NY; SEASIDE PARK AND ELIZABETH, NJ, US
TARGET: 31 wounded in bombing in New York City; several explosive devices found in New York and New Jersey; one exploded without casualty at race in New Jersey; one police officer wounded in shootout
ATTACKER: Ahmad Khan Rahami (American citizen, born in Afghanistan.)
COLUMBUS, OH, US
TARGET: 14 wounded by individuals who drove a vehicle into a group of pedestrians and attacked them with a knife
ATTACKER: US person (American legal resident, originally from Somalia.)
These Belgians were both involved in the Paris attacks in November 2015
Chakib Ahrouh, (Belgian-Moroccan)
and Abdelhamid Abaaoud (Belgian-Moroccan)
TARGET: At least 31 killed and 270 wounded in coordinated bombings at Zaventem Airport and on a subway train
ATTACKERS: Khalid el-Bakraoui, (Belgian) Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, (Belgian) Najim Laachraoui (Belgian-Moroccan), Mohammed Abrini (Belgian)
TARGET: Two police officers wounded in stabbing
ATTACKER Belgian national
TARGET: 84 civilians killed and 308 wounded by an individual who drove a truck into a crowd
ATTACKER: Mohamed Bouhlel (Tunisian)
TARGET: 38 killed and 39 wounded in shooting at a beach frequented by westerners
ATTACKERS: Seifeddine Rezgui (Tunisian)
TARGET: No casualties; attacker killed after attempted knife attack on Paris police station
ATTACKER: Tarek Belgacem (Tunisian)
TARGET: 21 tourists killed, including 16 westerners, and 55 wounded in shooting at the Bardo Museum
ATTACKERS: Two ISIL-aligned extremists (Tunisians)
TARGET: 12 killed and 48 wounded by individual who drove truck into a crowded market
ATTACKER: Anis Amri (Tunisian)
TARGET: Ten killed, including one US citizen, and five wounded in bombing and shooting at a hotel frequented by westerners
ATTACKERS: As many as five ISIL-Libya members (Libyans)
TARGET: 22 killed, including one American and 50 wounded after hours-long siege using machetes and firearms at holy Artisan Bakery
ATTACKERS: Nibras Islam, Rohan Imtiaz, Meer Saameh Mubasheer, Khairul Islam Paye, and Shafiqul Islam Uzzal (Bengalis)
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA