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Zakaria: Ten Years Later, Islamist Terrorism Isn’t the Threat It Used to Be



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This past weekend marked the 10th anniversary of the operation, code-named Neptune Spear, that killed Osama bin Laden. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the state of Islamist terrorism and radical Islam more generally. And the initial diagnosis is clear: The movement is in bad shape.

Total deaths caused by terrorism around the world have plummeted by 59 percent since their peak in 2014. In the West, the current threat is less from Islamist violence than far-right terrorism, which has surged by 250 percent in the same period, and now makes up 46 percent of attacks and 82 percent of deaths.

For America, there is one big lesson: Stay calm. In the months after 9/11, we panicked, sacrificing liberties at home and waging war abroad, terrified that we were going to be defeated by this new enemy. This is part of a worrying American tradition of exaggerating the threats we face, from the Soviet Union to Saddam Hussein. As we scour the world for new foes, let’s learn to right-size our adversaries and find a way to run fast but not run scared.

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