What is becoming clear, however, is the economic cost of terrorism. Beyond the destruction of property and the incalculable value of the hundreds of thousands of lost lives, data show that the economic and military costs are far out of proportion to the amount spent by the terrorists to wreak havoc.
For instance, a report on the broader impact of terrorism on financial stability by the Coordinator of the United Nations Taliban and Al-Qaida Monitoring Team, Richard Barrett, notes that the British Government estimates that the July 2005 attack on the London transport which killed 52 cost the terrorists around $15,000 compared with an estimated $750,000,000 loss in tourist revenues.
A similar gap is seen in the broader war on terror. In 2011, the New York Times surveyed various cost estimates and concluded that the U.S. war response to the approximately half a million dollars spent by Al Qaeda to attack New York and Washington added up to some $3.3 trillion, or about $7 million for every dollar spent by Al Qaeda.
A new study by the Cost of War Project at Brown University* estimates that the US federal price tag for the Iraq war — including an estimate for veterans' medical and disability costs into the future — is about $4.4 trillion dollars. The study argues that many of the wars’ costs are not readily apparent, spread across various budgets, and therefore have not been fully counted or assessed. For example, while most people think the Pentagon war appropriations are equivalent to the wars’ budgetary costs, the study estimates that the true numbers are twice that, and the full economic cost of the wars much larger yet (see chart below).