As Aleppo lies a scene of devastation with Syrian forces putting all their might to wrest the control of the city from Islamic fundamentalist forces, the recently released Global Terrorism Index 2016 (GTI) says the scenario has deteriorated by 6% with many moderately affected countries experiencing record levels of terrorism. However, 76 countries improved their GTI scores compared to 53 countries that worsened.
The Global Terrorism Index is produced by the Institute of Economics and Peace, which has been producing a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism over the past 16 years.
The fourth edition of the Global Terrorism Index provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism over the last 16 years, covering the period from the beginning of 2000 to the end of 2015. The index is based on data from the Global Terrorism Database which is collected and collated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Centre of Excellence led by the University of Maryland. The Global Terrorism Database is considered to be the most comprehensive dataset on terrorist activity globally and has now codified over 150,000 terrorist incidents.
While the two deadliest terrorist groups — ISIS and Boko Haram — have been considerably weakened in their respective areas of operations in Iraq/Syria and Nigeria, this positive change was neutralized by two key negative trends which have driven up terrorism in the rest of the world. The primary negative was ISIS’s tactical shift in making its operations transnational, not just to other parts of the Middle East but to Europe as well. Half of all terror plots with an ISIS connection have been conducted by people who have had no direct contact with ISIS. The countries particularly affected are: France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Tunisia and Burundi. The second is Boko Haram’s extension into neighbouring West African countries, thus pushing up Cameroon and Niger to 13th and 16th in the index.
The Global Terrorism Index 2016 reinforces the fact that terrorism is a highly concentrated form of violence, mostly committed in a small number of countries and by a small number of groups. The five countries suffering the highest impact from terrorism are Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, which together accounted for 72% of all deaths from terrorism in 2015.
The others on the top 10 list are Yemen (6), India (7), Somalia (8), Egypt (9) and Libya (10). The OECD suffered a 650% increase in deaths as a result of terrorism in 2015, rising to 577 deaths, from 77 in 2014. Turkey and were being particularly affected. In 2015 Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden and Turkey recorded the most deaths from terrorism in a single year since 2000.
Only four groups were responsible for 74% of all these deaths; ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban and al-Qa’ida.
This is the fourth edition of the Global Terrorism Index which provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism over the last 16 years, covering the period from the beginning of 2000 to the end of 2015.
Iraq is suffering the highest levels of terrorism. ISIS is the deadliest terrorist group, followed by al-Qa’ida. However, the full scale of devastation unleashed by these two groups are not known as nearly two thirds of deaths in Iraq from terrorism in the last 13 years have not been claimed by any group. What is little known is that there are two other terrorist groups active in Iraq — al-Naqshabandiya Army, a Sufi group, and the Mukhtar Army, a Shi’a militia group. In 2015 there was a 30% yearly reduction in deaths from terrorism in Iraq, which could be attributed to reduced influence of ISIS.
Afghanistan suffered the worst year in 2015 from Taliban-inflicted violence. Deaths from terrorism and conflict have steadily increased for the past five years in the country, with Taliban being responsible for the majority of terrorist attacks. The majority of attacks are along the Af-Pak border. There are four other groups active in Afghanistan, the most active being the Khorasan Chapter of the Islamic State.
Nigeria experienced a 34% decline in the number of deaths from terrorism following the continuous offense launched by a military coalition of the Nigerian, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. However, this also saw the Boko Haram violence spilling into Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Boko Haram has been one of the deadliest terrorist groups in history. Even though the first recorded terrorist death by Boko Haram was only in 2009, the group has the second highest death toll out of all terrorist groups since 2000. Only the Taliban has killed more people than Boko Haram.
Even though Pakistan has recorded a substantial drop in terrorism-related attacks and deaths, extremism in Pakistan is spreading. It has spread from the border region with Afghanistan to many interior parts of the country, especially in the Punjab province in the east which is the most populated area of Pakistan.
With the bloody civil war raging, Syria’s relatively low position on the list may come as a surprise, but the majority of deaths in Syria are classified as a result of warfare rather than acts of terrorism. In 2015 there was a 63% increase in the number of recorded deaths. It is very much possible the number of deaths is actually much higher, but due to the intensity of the civil war and ISIS’s territorial control, the information is incomplete. Although there were 17 groups that committed terrorist attacks in 2015, just two groups were responsible for three quarters of all deaths: ISIS and the al-Nusra front.