World Terrorism Deaths Spiked Last Year - but Only in Five Countries. Why?

By LaFranchi, Howard | The Christian Science Monitor, November 19, 2014 | Go to article overview

World Terrorism Deaths Spiked Last Year - but Only in Five Countries. Why?


LaFranchi, Howard, The Christian Science Monitor


Terrorism is up - but concentrated in a handful of countries where an even smaller number of terror groups are carrying out the bulk of attacks.

No one will be surprised to hear that terrorism deaths are up in Iraq and Syria largely as a result of the rise of the violence- preaching Islamic State, and in Nigeria where Boko Haram continues to mount high-casualty attacks.

But here's something else to know about terrorism: At the end of the day, it doesn't work. Since the 1960s, only a very few terrorist organizations have achieved their goals through violence.

Nor does a military response alone serve to end terrorism. More effective, recent decades suggest, is a combination of improved community-based policing to boost public buy-in with governments, and a political process to address underlying grievances.

These are some of the findings of the 2014 Global Terrorism Index issued this week by the London-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

Many of the headline-catching numbers in the index are not encouraging. The study of terrorist acts in 162 countries covering more than 99 percent of global population finds that deaths from terrorism jumped 60 percent in 2013 over the previous year, while the number of countries experiencing 50 or more deaths as a result of terrorist acts also rose about 60 percent, to 24 from 15.

But the index also finds that more than 80 percent of the almost 18,000 terrorism-attributed deaths in 2013 occurred in five countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Syria.

Indeed, Iraq accounted for more than one-third of the deaths the organization tallied. At more than 6,300, Iraq's staggering toll represented a 164 percent increase over 2012.

If it weren't for the five top countries for terrorist attacks, the global tally of terrorist acts, although up last year, would stand broadly where it was in 2000, the index finds.

The IEP study assigns two-thirds of the global toll to just four groups: the Islamic State (also known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL), Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban. What that tally underscores is the link over the past decade between rising global terrorism and the rise and spreading of extremist Islamist groups. …

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