Islamic State is no longer the deadliest terrorist group in the world having held the title since 2014, but there has been a “worrying surge” in attacks from far right groups, the latest edition of the Global Terrorism Index shows. The index, which is compiled by the Institute for Economics & Peace, analyses key global trends in terrorism over the last 50 years. Its 2019 edition has found that total deaths from terrorism are down over 52 per cent from their peak in 2014.
The fall in the total number of deaths from terrorism was mirrored by a reduction in the impact of terrorism globally, as 98 countries recorded an improvement compared to 40 that recorded a deterioration. Although the intensity of terrorism has diminished, its breadth has not, as 103 countries recorded at least one terrorist incident in 2018 – the second worst year on record – and 71 countries suffered at least one fatality in the same year.
Deaths from terrorism fell for the fourth consecutive year with the total number falling by 15.2 per cent between 2017 and 2018 to 15,952. The index pointed to military successes against Islamic State (also known as Isis) and Boko Haram as the driver for the reduction. The largest fall occurred in Iraq, which recorded 3,217 fewer deaths from terrorism in 2018, a 75 per cent decrease from the prior year. For the first time since 2003, Iraq was no longer the country most impacted by terrorism.
Deaths attributed to ISIS declined 69 per cent, with attacks declining 63 per cent in 2018. Isis now has an estimated 18,000 fighters left in Iraq and Syria, down from over 70,000 in 2014. The deadliest attack attributed to Isis in 2018 was in Deir ez-Zor, Syria, where at least 10 suicide bombers with four explosive-laden vehicles attacked and killed at least 51 people.
The collapse of ISIS was also reflected in Europe, with no deaths attributed to the group in 2018, although 16 deaths were attributed to “jihadi-inspired extremists”. Europe and the Middle East-North Africa were the two regions that recorded the biggest improvement in the impact of terrorism, with the number of deaths falling by 70 per cent and 65 per cent respectively.
In Europe, the number of deaths from terrorism fell for the second successive year, from more than 200 in 2017 to 62 in 2018. Only two attacks killed five or more people, compared with 11 in 2015. However, the index said that “one of the more worrying trends” was the “surge in far-right political terrorism” over the past five years, although the absolute number of far-right attacks remains low when compared to other forms of terrorism.
In North America, western Europe, and Oceania, far-right attacks increased by 320 per cent over the past five years. This trend has continued into 2019, with 77 deaths attributed to far-right terrorists to September 2019. The number of arrests linked to right-wing terrorism in Europe in 2019 increased for the third year in a row.
The 10 countries most impacted by terrorism in 2018:
(The list is based on a composite score of a range of factors determined by the index and is not based exclusively on fatalities)
Most deadly group: Taliban
Most deadly group: ISIS
Most deadly group: Boko Haram
Most deadly group: Isis
Most deadly group: Khorasan Chapter of ISIS
Most deadly group: Al-Shabaab
Most deadly group: Maoists
Most deadly group: Houthi extremists (Ansar Allah)
Most deadly group: New People’s Army
10. Democratic Republic of Congo
Most deadly group: Allied Democratic Forces