Terrorists Expanded Reach, Killed Fewer Last Year, Study Finds


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A record 23 countries suffered the most deadly terrorist attacks ever last year, despite a 10-percent decrease in global terrorism-related deaths recorded in 2015, according to a new study on international terrorism.

Positive trends being overshadowed by negative ones was a pattern in findings published in the 2016 Global Terrorism Index (GTI). For example, although military actions resulted in a 32-percent reduction in the amount of deadly terrorism in Iraq by ISIS and in Nigeria by Boko Haram, both groups have expanded their reach into other countries, contributing to the overall rise in attacks.

“While on the one hand the reduction in deaths is positive, the continued intensification of terrorism in some countries and its spread to new ones is a cause for serious concern and underscores the fluid nature of modern terrorist activity,” said Steve Killelea, Executive Chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace, which released the report Nov. 16. "The attacks in the heartland of western democracies underscore the need for fast paced and tailored responses to the evolution of these organisations."

ISIS surpassed Boko Haram as the deadliest terrorist group in the world last year, killing 6,141 in attacks across 252 cities. Rounding out the top four most brutal groups are al-Qa'ida and the Taliban, which counted 2015 as its deadliest yet. Together, the four groups responsible for 74 percent of the 29,376 terrorism-related deaths last year, 72 percent of which were concentrated in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq, where ISIS’ slaughter of 300 civilians in the city of Qaim ranked as having the highest terror-related death toll of ‘15.

As for good news, the overall decline in terrorism deaths reversed a four-year upward trend. There was also less terrorism reported in Pakistan, India and Thailand as well as progress in countering terrorist groups through international coalitions in Africa. The authors of the report also noted that the terror attack death toll still pales in comparison to that of armed conflicts or homicide, which is 15 times the rate of terrorism.

Timothy Bolger's picture
Timothy Bolger