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Terrorism in the worst affected countries is on the decline ​

WGS001B14 Terrorism in the worst affected countries is on the decline Shutterstock 324965855
WGS001B14 Terrorism in the worst affected countries is on the decline Shutterstock 324965855

While headlines around the world might suggest that the risk of terrorism is forever on the rise, the reality is that fewer people are dying in terror-related incidents.

 

The latest Global Terrorism Index, produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace, reported 25,673 fatalities in 2016 - a 22 per cent fall since 2014.

 

The report says the figure marks a turning point in the fight against radical extremism with the 10 countries recording the largest drop in deaths suffered 7,348 fewer killings.

 

In Nigeria, terrorism deaths attributed to Boko Haram decreased by 80 per cent in 2016.

 

Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan also saw reductions. But these nations, with Iraq, still accounted for three-quarters of all deaths from terrorism.

 

Mixed report

 

Globally, the number of terrorism-related deaths attributed to Daesh, often described as “Islamic State”, increased by 49 per cent in 2016. Deaths in Iraq accounted for 40% of the increase.

 

And while overall there were fewer attacks, more countries had at least one death from terrorism, more than at any time in the past 17 years. Two out of every three countries in the index, 106 of 163 nations, had at least one terrorist attack.

 

North America was the only region to have experienced a reduced impact from terrorism since 2002, the report says.

 

This view is backed up by research in British newspaper The Guardian, which says: “It’s clear that most fatalities occur in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa…What’s unambiguous in the data is that deaths from terrorism remain rare in North America and Western Europe, compared with the rest of the world.”

 

Over the past 15 years, the Index says, South Asia experienced the most terrorist activity while Central and South America were least affected. The Middle East and North Africa had the sharpest increase in terrorism. Private citizens and property were the most frequent targets – attacks against civilians increased by 17% from 2015 to 2016.

 

However, in Central America and the Caribbean, government and journalists are at greater risk, while North American businesses and religious institutions are targeted as frequently as private citizens.

Source Shutterstock

Past crimes make up the numbers

 

In Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development nations, there were nearly 10,000 terrorist-linked deaths from between 1970 and 2016.  

 

But, while the media in western democracies is frequently focussed on the Daesh threat, the number of terrorism-linked deaths rose by just 0.1% between 2010 and 2016. More than half – 58% - of the terrorist-related fatalities occurred before 2000 and were linked to separatist struggles in Northern Ireland and Spain.

 

Daesh is still only the fourth most deadly group that has operated in the OCED states, accounting for 4.7% of terrorist deaths in OECD countries since 1970.

 

The IRA and ETA between them killed more than 2,450 people, 26% of total terrorist deaths in OECD members over the period.

 

Headline news?

 

Moreover, your chances of being killed are far higher in conflict-affected countries, with 2.4 fatalities per attack in 2016 compared with 1.3 elsewhere.

 

The Index results support the views of critics of western media who say news outlets are obsessed with terrorism at home, but do not widely report attacks elsewhere.

 

Additionally, the Global Index report states Daesh is nearing a complete military defeat in Iraq and Syria and its revenue is estimated to have fallen from US$81 million per month in 2015 to US$16 million per month in 2016.

 

The organisation has less capacity for launching attacks, but the Index notes there may be an increased risk to the home nations of Daesh fighters returning from conflict zones.

 

Cyber warning

 

The report contains a specific warning for global decision makers about threats technology now poses to our societies: “The nature of power, and who wields it, has shifted,” its authors say.

 

“Individuals, small countries and most recently terrorists and criminals, can now punch above their weight in cyberspace.”

 

It adds traditional checks and balances are being eroded: “The global human brain is being swayed by fake news, Twitter and social media, while real journalism and books are losing authority and power.”

 

This is a threat that particularly needs to be understood by younger generations: “As history is unfolding it is also becoming rudderless. No country or individual in global affairs is arousing enough political or moral authority to sway the new generation of Millennials who only believe 19% of people can be trusted.

 

“It is not surprising that extremists are gaining a foothold in a world with such

unprecedentedly low levels of social trust.”