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21 November, 2015

The numbers of terror

IEP 2015 report

Key findings:

  • Terrorist activity increased by 80 per cent in 2014 to its highest recorded level. The largest ever year-on-year increase in deaths from terrorism was recorded in 2014, rising from 18,111 in 2013 to 32,685 in 2014. The number of people who have died from terrorist activity has increased nine-fold since the year 2000.

  • Boko Haram overtakes ISIL to become the most deadly terrorist group in the world. Deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 317 per cent in 2014 to 6,644. ISIL was responsible for 6,073 terrorist deaths. Fifty-one per cent of terrorist deaths that are attributed to a terrorist group were by Boko Haram and ISIL.

  • Terrorist activity is highly concentrated — five countries accounted for 78 per cent of deaths. Fifty-seven per cent of all attacks and 78 per cent of all deaths occurred in only five countries; Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.

  • Ninety-three countries experienced a terrorist incident in 2014, up from 88 in 2013.

  • More countries than ever have high levels of terrorism. Countries suffering from more than 500 deaths increased by 120 per cent. In 2014, 11 countries had over 500 deaths while in 2013 only five did.

  • Private citizens are increasingly the targets of terrorist attacks. Deaths of private citizens increased by 172 per cent between 2013 and 2014 compared to the total number of deaths which rose 80 per cent.

  • Terrorist attacks on religious targets resulted in 11 per cent fewer deaths in 2014. Whilst there are many active religious terrorist groups, attacks involving religious figures and institutions accounted for fewer deaths in 2014. 
  • Nigeria has experienced the largest increase in deaths from terrorism in 2014. There were 7,512 fatalities from terrorist attacks in 2014, an increase of over 300 per cent. The country houses two of the five most deadly terrorist groups in 2014; Boko Haram and the Fulani militants.

  • The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria continued in 2014 and 2015. Between 25,000 and 30,000 foreign fighters have arrived in Syria and Iraq since 2011, 7,000 in the first six months of 2015
  • Excluding Turkey, Europe accounted for 21 per cent of all foreign fighters in 2014. Half of the foreign fighters are from neighbouring Middle-East and North Africa (MENA) countries and an additional four per cent are from Turkey.

  • The majority of deaths from terrorism do not occur in the West. Excluding the September 11 attack, only 0.5 per cent of deaths from terrorism have occurred in the West since 2000. Including September 11, the percentage reaches 2.6
  • Lone wolf attackers are the main perpetrators of terrorist activity in the West. Seventy per cent of all deaths from terrorism in the West since 2006 were by lone wolf terrorists with the rest being unknown or group attacks by more than three attackers.

  • Islamic fundamentalism was not the main cause of terrorism in the West over the last nine years. Eighty per cent of deaths by lone wolf terrorists in the West were driven by right wing extremism, nationalism, anti-government sentiment and political extremism and other forms of supremacy
  • Terrorist activity is a significant driver of refugee activity and internal displacement. The countries which are the greatest source of refugees and internally displaced people also suffer the most deaths from terrorism. Ten of the 11 countries that had more than 500 deaths from terrorism in 2014 had the highest levels of refugees and IDPs in the world.

  • Terrorist activity is correlated with political violence. The research found that 92 per cent of all terrorist attacks between 1989 and 2014 occurred in countries where political violence by the government was widespread.

  • Terrorism is also intrinsically linked to a country’s safety and security environment. In the last 25 years, 88 per cent of all terrorist attacks occurred in countries that were experiencing or involved in violent conflicts. Less than 0.6 per cent of all terrorist attacks occurred in countries without any ongoing conflict and any form of political terror.

  • Lack of respect for human rights and for international organisations also correlates with terrorism. Other important correlates aside from political terror and ongoing conflict include lower respect for human rights, the existence of policies targeting religious freedoms, group grievances, political instability and lower respect for the UN or the EU.

  • There are different drivers of terrorism in wealthier countries than in poorer countries. In OECD countries socio-economic factors such as youth unemployment, confidence in the press, faith in democracy, drug crime and attitudes towards immigration correlate significantly. In non-OECD countries factors such as a history of armed conflict, ongoing conflict within the country, corruption and a weak business environment are more strongly correlated.

Full report:

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