TerrorismTerrorism: Numbers, trends, outlook

Published 29 December 2017

This is the end of 2017, but the complete, authoritative numbers relating to terrorism in 2016 are finally in. These numbers show that for the second year in a row, the total number of deaths caused by terrorism has declined. The reduction in deaths is encouraging, but despite this 2016 was the third deadliest year since 2000. While the intensity of terrorism in many countries has decreased, it continues to spread to an increasing number of countries.

The Institute of Economics & Peace (IEP) and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) a few weeks ago have issued the fifth release of the Global Terrorism Index, which provides a comprehensive summary of global trends in terrorism covering the last seventeen years. This year, the average country score within the index deteriorated by 4 percent and reflects the increasing spread of terrorism. There were 77 countries that experienced deaths from terrorism, which is an increase from 65 the year before. Two thirds of all countries experienced a terrorist attack in 2016.

The most affected countries improve
IEP notes that despite this, there are positive trends. Since 2014 there has been a 22 percent reduction in deaths from terrorism compared to the peak of terror activity in 2014, with 6,827 fewer people killed. Terrorism has fallen significantly in Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. Nigeria recorded the biggest decrease in terrorism, with 3,100 fewer people killed compared to the previous year. This reflects both the success of the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram as well as fractures within the group.

Afghanistan also improved, with 14 percent fewer deaths compared to the previous year. This decline in deaths from terrorism reflects the Taliban’s engagement in more traditional conflict activities against the Afghan National Guard, focused on territorial gains rather than terrorist activity. Syria has seen the most dramatic increase in terrorism over the last decade with the increase coinciding with the start of the conflict in 2011. However, in 2016 it recorded the first reduction since 2011, with deaths from terrorism decreasing 24 percent from the previous year to 2,102.

Pakistan also recorded a decrease in the number of people killed by terrorism with a 12 percent reduction to 956 deaths. This is the lowest number of deaths since 2006, and reflects a slight decrease in the activity of Sindh in southeast Pakistan. The Khorasan Chapter of the Islamic State and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan placed greater focus on Afghanistan.