Case Studies

Terror index

by Mark Rowe

The number of terrorist attacks around the world has increased dramatically. More than four-fifths of all terrorism occurs in only five countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. Last year terrorism was dominated by four groups: the Taliban, Boko Haram, ISIL, and al Qa’ida. This is according to the latest Global Terrorism Index, by the Institute for Economics & Peace.

Steve Killelea of the institute says: “Terrorism doesn’t arise on its own; by identifying the factors associated with it, long term 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, reduce group grievances and hostilities, and improve effective and community-supported policing.” Visit

For the full 91-page report click here.

The most common context for the onset of terrorist violence is within an ongoing conflict. According to the report there were around 40,000 terrorist attacks in which at least one person was killed between 1970 and 2013. This number spans 178 countries. Of these 40,000 terrorist attacks, around 70 per cent occurred in countries that were at the time already immersed in serious political, civil, ethnic or international conflicts.

Since 2000 there has been over a five-fold increase in the number of deaths from terrorism, rising from 3,361 in 2000 to 17,958 in 2013. However for four years, starting in 2007, there had been modest decreases in terrorist deaths and also a slight decrease in the number of countries experiencing greater than 50 deaths from terrorism per annum. The latest jump in terrorist activity coincided with the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

Besides covering trends and risks, the report goes into the economic costs of terrorism – which go further than the destruction of property and the loss of life, it is suggested. The increased costs of security, military expenditure and insurance often outweigh the original attack. Further, terrorist activities increase uncertainty in the market, decrease foreign investment, alter trade and change consumption and savings behaviour.

Religion as a driving ideology for terrorism has dramatically increased since 2000. Prior to 2000 nationalist separatist agendas were the biggest drivers of terrorist organisations. Some 87 countries experienced a terrorist incident in 2013, slightly up from 81 in 2012. Countries named as at risk of more terrorism judging by current trends are Angola, Bangladesh, Burundi, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Iran, Israel, Mali, Mexico, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Uganda. Besides the five countries seeing most terrorism, the report also named Somalia, India, Thailand, Yemen and the Philippines.

As for ending terrorist groups, the report says that the two most successful strategies since the late 1960s have been policing, or the initiation of a political process. These strategies were the main reason for the ending of over 80 per cent of terrorist organisations that ceased operation. Only ten per cent of terrorist groups could be said to have achieved their goals and only seven per cent were eliminated by full military engagement.

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