The number of lives lost to terrorist attacks increased by 61% in a single year, according to the second edition of the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), rising from 11,133 in 2012 to 17,958 in 2013. The index also recorded a 44% increase in the number of terrorist incidents, rising from 6,825 in 2012 to 9,814 in 2013. Explosives accounted for the majority of these attacks, while suicide bombings accounted for less than 5%.
First launched by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) in 2012, the GTI ranks countries by the impact of terrorist activities as well as analysing the economic and social dimensions associated with terrorism. The index scores 162 countries, covering 99.6% of the world's population, and examines trends from 2000 to 2013. The indicators used include the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities, injuries and property damage.
Over 80% of the deaths from terrorist attacks in 2013 were in just five countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. Iraq continues to be the country most impacted by terrorism with 2,492 attacks killing 6,362 people, which represents a 164% increase from 2012. ISIL was responsible for most of the deaths in the country.
Terrorism has also grown significantly in intensity and breadth outside of these five countries. In 2013 there were 3,721 attacks recorded in the rest of the world killing 3,236 people, an increase of over 50% YOY. A total of 60 countries recorded deaths from terrorist attacks in 2013.
Steve Killelea, Executive Chairman of IEP, said, "Terrorism doesn't arise on its own; by identifying the factors associated with it, policies can be implemented to improve the underlying environment that nurtures terrorism. The most significant actions that can be taken are to reduce state-sponsored violence such as extra-judicial killings, reduce group grievances and hostilities, and improve effective and community-supported policing."
There are three statistically significant factors associated with terrorism: state sponsored violence, group grievances and high levels of criminality. Interestingly, poverty rates, levels of school attendance and most economic factors have no association with terrorism. The strong relationship between terrorism and other forms of violence underlines how the persistent targeting of police forces and the instability generated by terrorist activity can undermine the rule of law.
Steve Killelea commented, "Since we first launched the GTI in 2012, we've seen a significant and worrying increase in worldwide incidences of terrorism. Over the last decade the increase in terrorism has been linked to radical Islamic groups whose violent theologies have been broadly taught. To counter-act these influences, moderate forms of Sunnis theologies need to be championed by Sunni Muslim nations. Given the theological nature of the problem it is difficult for outside actors to be influential."
The report also sources both high and low estimates of foreign fighters who are actively fighting in Syria, utilizing the best available data. The low estimations for number of fighters from Europe are 396, with the high estimates at 1,846, while the low estimate for the MENA is 1,930 and the high estimate is 6,664.
The two most successful strategies for ending terrorist groups since the late 1960s have been either policing or the initiation of a political process; 80% of organisations that ceased operations ended this way. Only 10% of terrorist organisations ended due to having achieved their goals while 7% were eliminated by full military engagement.
The GTI also provides guidance for assessing the risk of the potential of future attacks in countries where there are currently low levels of activity. Based on measuring various political, violence and group relationship indicators, countries at risk of substantial increases in terrorism have been identified. At least 13 countries are facing a greater risk of substantial terrorist activity: Angola, Bangladesh, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Iran, Israel, Mali, Mexico, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Uganda.
Since 2000, around 7% of all terrorist incidents and 5% of all fatalities have occurred in OECD countries resulting in 4,861 deaths from 3,151 attacks. OECD-based terrorism in 2013 was slightly down from 130 deaths and 333 incidents in 2012 to 113 deaths and 311 incidents in 2013.
Many more people die in homicides than in terrorist attacks, with an individual being 40 times more likely to be a victim of homicide than be killed by terrorism. In the UK an individual is 188 times more likely to be victim of a homicide, and in US 64 times more likely.
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