Refugees and Terrorism (Some Numbers)

Via The Economist

Of the 745,000 refugees resettled since September 11th, only two Iraqis in Kentucky have been arrested on terrorist charges, for aiding al-Qaeda in Iraq.

(The whole piece is worth a read).

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, US Politics, , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Mark Ivey says:

    2 out of 745,000?

    Breitbart comments say the other 744,998 should be rounded up and deported..

  2. bookdragon says:

    Excellent point.

    The reactions against refugees has been making my stomach turn. I’ve lived in Detroit and Toledo, both cities with significant Muslim populations. In both college and my first job, I lived near and worked with many of them: Fine, decent, peaceful people who are as American as I am.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    On the other hand of the 200 Chechen immigrants in the United States two perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombing.

    My point is not that we should ban refugees. It’s that we need to think about risk mitigation and that’s more complicated than a few raw numbers. Banning refugees is an extreme and probably unnecessary form of risk mitigation.

    I don’t claim to have the answer. I think the ultimate formula may end up being at odds with what we like to think of as our values. We’ve done it before (e.g. internment of the Japanese during WWII).

    I think my present position is that we should accept 100% of the refugees who apply for admission but, as has been the case in the past, not all of those who apply for refugee status are actually refugees. Distinguishing between those who are and those who aren’t is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.

  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    If memory serves, the Tsarnev brothers came over with their family around 2007. That would’ve made them, what, 11 or 12?

    I would think that that indicates they were radicalized after moving here; they didn’t bring radical Islam with them.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    Have you heard any interviews with their mother?

  6. Bill Lefrak says:

    Numbers are sort of interesting when in the hands of dopey academics. The irony is lost on them and the ripple effects of their using numbers in connection with their emoting are not grasped.

    Of all the guns in the U.S. what percentage are used in mass shootings? A thousandth of one percent? Less? Is that an argument against gun control?

    Of all the death row inmates what percentage actually are innocent in fact? What number of them factually are innocent? Two? One? Is that an argument in favor of the death penalty?

    So on, so forth.

  7. @Bill Lefrak: If the only way for a policy to be a good idea is for it to be 100% perfect and safe beyond all measure, then I guess we had best park all of our cars now and never drive again.

    (And I have no idea what irony and ripple effects have to do with any of this, but I suppose one’s mileage may vary).

  8. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Apparently Bill chose not to listen to the dopey academics when they tried to explain to him what words meant.

  9. robz says:


    He’s been distracted by his wet pants for some time now.

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Bill Lefrak: From memory, there are about 300 million guns in the US. About 250,000 people get shot one way or another every year in the US (30,000 killed, 200,000 plus wounded). So .0833% of guns shoot someone in a year. Not a big number, right? But that’s EVERY YEAR. What’s the average life of a gun? They’re durable, say 40 years? So roughly 3% of guns end up shooting someone before they’re scrapped.

    In the 40 year life of an average gun 10 MILLION people get shot in this country. (I suspect usually a family member of a Responsible Gun Owner ™.)