The number of lives lost to terrorist attacks worldwide increased by 61% in a single year according to the just published second edition of the Global Terrorism Index (GTI).
The index, compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), points out 17 958 people were killed in terrorist attacks in 2013 compared to 11 133 the previous year.
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 five percent.
The GTI was launched in 2012 and ranks countries by the impact of terrorist activities as well as analysing the social and economic dimensions associated with terrorism.
Over 80% of deaths from terrorist attacks in 2013 were in 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. This is a 164% increase over 2012. Islamic State was responsible for most of the deaths, IEP said.
Terrorism has also grown significantly in intensity and breadth outside of these five countries. In 2013 there were 3 721attacks recorded in the rest of the world killing 3 236 people, an increase of over 50% year on year. A total of 60 countries recorded deaths from terrorist attacks in 2013.
“Terrorism doesn’t arise by itself; 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,” Killelea said.
There are three statistically significant factors associated with terrorism: state-sponsored violence, group grievances and high levels of criminality. Poverty rates, levels of school attendance and most economic factors have no association with terrorism according to IEP’s GTI.
The strong relationship between terrorism and other forms of violence underlines how persistent targeting of police forces and instability generated by terrorist activity can undermine the rule of law.
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 seven percent 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. These are Angola, Bangladesh, Burundi, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Iran, Israel, Mali, Mexico, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Uganda.
IEP is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to promoting a better understanding of the social and economic factors that develop a more peaceful society.
It has offices in Sydney, New York, Mexico City and Oxford and was established in 2008 to study the relationship between business, peace and economic development. It grew out of the finding of the Global Peace Index, first published in 2007, that there is a significant relationship between peacefulness and national wealth. IEP was founded by Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist Steve Killelea, who provided initial funding to establish and operate the Institute.
The index scores 162 countries, covering more than 99% 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.