Or to put it another way, the equivalent of every single living human in the entire city of New York.
Terrorism works. Now more than ever. That's right: I'm David Wong, and I'm here to endorse the effectiveness of terrorism. Buy my book.
And however effective terrorism might have been in the past, holy fuck does it work in the era of mass communication -- the World Trade Center attacks didn't happen once, they happened millions of times, as the news replayed the terrible orange/black blooms of impact over, and over, and over, and over. Amplifying the trauma, reverberating through the culture until every nerve was rubbed raw, creating what would come to be called the "Post-9/11 World." The sheer existence of that as an everyday term says it all:
Keep in mind, a tsunami killed a quarter-million people in 2004, and another one killed 16,000 people in 2011, but neither caused us to refer to a "post-tsunami world." Only terrorism can utterly dominate our thinking that way.
And as a result, a bad guy can now make the whole world stop dead in its goddamned tracks with nothing more than a device built with about a hundred bucks' worth of shit he got at Walmart. If you pick up a gun and shoot six people at your office over a change in dress code, you'll be gone from the front page of CNN by the next day. But build a crude bomb and kill three people in the name of jihad while cameras are rolling? You'll cause an entire city to go on lockdown, utterly dominate the consciousness of a nation for months, and create scenes like this: