Global Terrorism Index finds attacks down, but becoming more lethal

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The Institute for Economics & Peace’s (IEP) latest Global Terrorism Index (GTI) has found that last year, terrorism resulted in 6 701 deaths – 38% lower than at their peak in 2015 – but the lethality of attacks increased dramatically.

Although the overall death toll from terrorism dropped by 9% in 2022, it is significant to emphasize that this decrease is entirely attributable to the Taliban’s transformation in Afghanistan from a terrorist organization to a state actor. Beyond Afghanistan, terrorism-related fatalities increased by 4%, highlighting the ongoing worldwide problem.

The GTI’s most startling finding is the 26% increase in the deadly nature of terrorist assaults – the first rise in lethality in five years. This emphasizes how terrorist organizations’ strategies have evolved, with ever-worse results. Indeed, the lethality rate of the two deadliest terrorist groups is increasing. Islamic State (IS), the deadliest, saw an increase of 12% to 2.9 deaths per attack, while al-Shabaab’s lethality rate is at its highest level since 2017, increasing by 32% to 2.5 persons per attack.

Islamic State and its affiliates carried out assaults in 21 different nations in 2022, demonstrating the resilience and global reach of these organizations.

The 2023 edition of the GTI covers 163 nations and approximately 99.7% of the world’s population. Amongst its findings is that deaths have dropped since 2014 and the number of people killed as a result of terrorism has noticeably decreased over time, with Iraq, Syria, and Nigeria recording the largest drops. This decrease illustrates the persistent difficulties in these areas while also showing success in the fight against terrorism.

Fewer countries are losing citizens to terrorism: the number of nations suffering such incidents has decreased as a result of the decline in terrorism-related fatalities. Only 63 nations reported at least one death connected to terrorism in 2019, the lowest number since 2013.

Regional Differences

The effects of terrorism have varied regionally, with some communities seeing improvements and others suffering. Contrasting tendencies have been observed in South Asia, Central America, and the Caribbean, highlighting the complexity of terrorism’s development.

There have been major advancements in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region recently, with an 87% drop in deaths connected to terrorism since 2016. Afghanistan, previously the nation most severely affected by terrorism, now serves as a symbol of these constructive changes.

Terrorist activity has shifted its focus in recent years to South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2018, these areas have reported more fatalities from terrorism than MENA, reflecting the evolving dynamics of international terrorism.

With 43% of all terrorist deaths worldwide, up 7% from the previous year, the Sahel region remains the global terrorist hotspot. Some of the deadliest and fastest-growing terrorist organizations in the world are based in this region. Many unidentified jihadists are operating in the Sahel – the GTI report found the rise in strikes by unidentified jihadists—whose deaths have increased eightfold since 2017—is a worrying phenomenon. These unidentified terrorists are responsible for 18 times more terrorism-related deaths in the Sahel region.

Climate and ecological factors

The GTI 2023 also emphasizes a connection between terrorism and environmental elements, particularly shocks brought on by climate disasters. The fact that terrorism seems to thrive in nations with deplorable ecological circumstances highlights the intricate relationship between environmental issues and security.

Use of new technology

A serious security issue is posed by the rapid development of drone technology and the use of it by terrorist organizations like IS, Boko Haram, and the Houthis. These organizations are increasingly using drones for a variety of operations, including attacks and surveillance.

The latest Global Terrorism Index, in addition to quantifying the effects of terrorism, offers important insights into the shifting strategies, trends, and difficulties that many countries face internationally. The GTI continues to be an essential tool for policymakers, security specialists, and researchers in the ongoing battle against this danger as terrorism continues to adapt and alter.