TerrorismMore than 5,000 killed in Jihadist violence in November

Published 11 December 2014

Jihadist groups killed more than 5,000 people in November, with Iraq topping the death league table, followed by Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Syria. In 664 incidents recorded in November by the BBC World Service and researched jointly with the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence at King’s College London, the overall death toll was 5,042, or an average of 168 deaths per day. After Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Syria, Yemen was fifth in the number of deaths, tying with Somalia, with 37 incidents each.

The International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR) and the BBC have just released the results of a global survey of jihadist violence.

Titled The New Jihadism: A Global Snapshot, the study aims to offer a global snapshot of deaths caused by jihadist groups during the month of November 2014.

An ICSR release reports that the findings are both important and disturbing:

  • Over the course of just one month, jihadists carried out 664 attacks, killing 5,042 people — the equivalent of three attacks per day on the scale of the London bombings in July 2005.
  • The overall picture is that of an increasingly ambitious, complex, sophisticated and far-reaching movement — one that seems to be in the middle of a transformation:
    • Geography: Though Islamic State is the most deadly group and the conflict in Syria and Iraq the “battle zone” with the largest number of recorded fatalities, jihadist groups carried out attacks in thirteen other countries. In just one month, they were responsible for nearly 800 deaths each in Nigeria and Afghanistan, as well as hundreds in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan.
    • Victims: Excluding incidents of jihadist infighting, 51 percent of jihadist fatalities were civilian. If government officials, policemen and other non-combatants are included, the figure rises to 57 percent. Based on context and location, the vast majority of victims are Muslim.
    • Tactics: While jihadist violence used to be associated with mass casualty bombings — such as the ones in New York, Madrid and London — today’s jihadists employ a much greater variety of tactics, ranging from classical terrorism to more or less conventional operations. In our data, “bombings” were outnumbered by shootings, ambushes, and shelling, reflecting the increased emphasis on holding territory and confronting conventional forces.
    • Groups: More than 60 percent of the jihadist deaths were caused by groups that have no formal relationship with al Qaeda. Though al Qaeda and its affiliates — especially Jabhat al Nusra in Syria and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — still play an important role, the data shows that treating ‘jihadism’ and al Qaeda as one and the same is less true than ever.
  • The scale of jihadist activity that is captured in this report reminds us to be cautious in our judgment of historical trends. Less than four years ago, jihadism — then predominantly in the form of al Qaeda – was widely believed to be dead or dying.
  • The report demonstrates that there can be no quick fixes for what is a generational challenge that needs to be countered not just through military means but political will, economic resources, and a readiness to challenge the ideas and beliefs that are driving its expansion.

Reports on the study will run on BBC World Service radio and BBC World News Television today and tomorrow (11-12 December).

— Read more in Peter R. Neumann, in collaboration with the BBC World Service and BBC Monitoring, The New Jihadism: A Global Snapshot (ICSR, December 2014)