Putting the Orlando Massacre Into Perspective

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Tevin Eugene Crosby, one of the victims of the shooting massacre at the Pulse nightclub of Orlando, Florida, on June 12. Micah Zenko writes that the U.S. has avoided mass-fatality attacks since 9/11 through new laws, more funding and a massive expansion of homeland security and intelligence capabilities. Facebook/reuters

This article first appeared on the Council on Foreign Relations site.

A brief note to place Sunday morning's horrific massacre in Orlando, Florida, within the broader global context of terrorism.

In 2014, the last year for which there is complete data, there were 82 terror attacks around the world that killed more than 50 people—28 of them killed over 100 people. This is according to the Global Terrorism Database, which is maintained by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

The country and number of attacks with more than 50 fatalities is listed below.

Nigeria: 37

Iraq: 17

South Sudan: 7

Syria: 7

Cameroon: 3

Ukraine: 3

Central African Republic: 2

Afghanistan: 2

Pakistan: 2

Somalia: 1

Sudan: 1

The United States has fortunately avoided being the location of such mass-fatality attacks since 9/11 through new laws, vastly more funding and a massive expansion of homeland security and intelligence capabilities.

Indeed, before the attack against the Pulse night club, 45 Americans had been killed within the United States by "violent jihadist attacks," according to the New America Foundation.

Not only was the crime perpetrated in Orlando the deadliest shooting within the United States since 9/11, it was deadlier than every other jihadist attack combined since then.

In countries where large and highly capable militant armies exist, governments lack the homeland security and law enforcement infrastructure needed to prevent mass-fatality attacks as successfully as been the case for the United States.

The innocent victims of terrorism within these countries suffer so greatly, because they try to create a life among ongoing insurgencies and civil wars, cannot rely upon the state to protect them and then are killed by terrorists searching for the least well-defended populations, in order to spread fear and elicit recruits.

Few of these 82 attacks were covered by Western media, and even those (like myself) who try to understand terrorism probably knew of only a dozen of them.

Though we do not know their individual stories, we should recognize that they too are the tragic victims of the scourge of terrorism, which overwhelmingly has devastated those living within conflict-prone Middle Eastern and African countries.

Micah Zenko is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.