The Statistical Chance of Being Blown Up by a Muslim (Cont'd)

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Goldblog reader David Barulich argues with my argument that a person's chances of being blown-up by a Muslim on an airplane flight are very slight:

First of all, your confidence in boarding your flight and chatting with Muslims is probably created by the pre-flight security check-in rather than by your statistical hypothesis.  But let me address your point more directly: A bit of a flaw in your reasoning about the odds of a Muslim being a terrorist on your flight.
 
First the relevant population you're sampling is not 1.3 billion Muslims, but the number of Muslims who are likely to fly on airplane flights with 99% non-Muslim passengers, and primarily from Western nations.  That's a much smaller number.  After all, no right-minded jihadi wants to blow up a jet with 200 Muslims on board.
 
Also, the most likely terrorist demographic are males between the age of 18 to 45.  We're not interested in 60 yr. females wearing the hijab.  So the population from which you're sample is drawn falls further.
 
Now you say the number directly involved in terrorist activities is tens of thousands at most.  I'd say that the odds now rise to a much higher level.  Maybe not enough to make you worried, but certainly higher than 1 in a 1,000.  Many Muslim terrorists board planes all the time, but don't carry out any successful terrorist acts.  They may be engaged in activities to test the reaction and detection acumen of security forces.
 
However, we do know that Muslims acting on their belief in Islam are responsible for nearly every terrorist attack upon the US and Western nations during the past 10 years.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/10/the-statistical-chance-of-being-blown-up-by-a-muslim-contd/65076/