Ter­ror-re­lated deaths fell in 2017

ISIS de­feats in Syria, Iraq drive 44 per­cent de­crease

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - Hasan Du­dar

WASH­ING­TON – Ter­ror-re­lated deaths have fallen for the third con­sec­u­tive year around the globe, while farright po­lit­i­cal ter­ror­ism is on the rise in North Amer­ica and Western Europe, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased Wed­nes­day.

Af­ter peak­ing at about 34,000 deaths in 2014, ter­ror­ism-re­lated deaths fell by 44 per­cent last year to 18,800, ac­cord­ing to Steve Kil­le­lea, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of the Lon­don-based In­sti­tute of Eco­nom­ics & Peace, which pub­lishes the an­nual Global Ter­ror­ism In­dex.

Mil­i­tary de­feats of the Is­lamic State, or ISIS, in Iraq and Syria, and the Nige­rian gov­ern­ment “break­ing the back” of Boko Haram are seen as the main rea­sons for the sig­nificant drop in deaths re­lated to ter­ror­ism, Kil­le­lea said. Afghanistan recorded the most ter­ror-re­lated deaths among all coun­tries.

Iraq, where ISIS first emerged, saw a 56 per­cent de­cline in ter­ror-re­lated deaths from 7,368 to 3,554, the largest year-to-year re­duc­tion of a sin­gle coun­try and the low­est num­ber of deaths from ter­ror­ism in Iraq since 2012.

Over­all, deaths at the hands of ISIS dropped by 52 per­cent in 2017, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. Kil­le­lea pre­dicts that the group will no longer rank as the dead­li­est ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion in 2018.

“I think if there’s one thing which I’d have peo­ple to take away from the study, it would be sim­ply that the back of ISIL is bro­ken,” Kil­le­lea said, us­ing an­other com­mon ab­bre­vi­a­tion for ISIS. “And that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of ter­ror­ism. Be­cause al-Qaida is still highly ac­tive.”

With ISIS col­laps­ing in Iraq and Syria, say the re­port’s au­thors, the group is mov­ing to coun­tries in the Maghreb and Sa­hel re­gions of Africa, such as Libya, Niger and Mali, and to South­east Asia.

Is­lamic ter­ror­ism is “in­cred­i­bly fluid,” Kil­le­lea said, not­ing that groups splin­ter, merge, and form new groups, based on differ­ences in ide­ol­ogy or differ­ences in strat­egy and tac­tics.

“And that’s very, very difficult for in­tel­li­gence agen­cies to re­ally track and stay on top of it,” Kil­le­lea said.

While more than 99 per­cent of all deaths from ter­ror­ism hap­pened in coun­tries mired in vi­o­lent conflict or high lev­els of po­lit­i­cal ter­ror, the re­port found that so­cial alien­ation, lack of eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity and in­volve­ment in an external conflict are ma­jor fac­tors be­hind ter­ror­ism in eco­nom­i­cally de­vel­oped ar­eas like North Amer­ica and Western Europe, which have wit­nessed a rise in far-right ter­ror­ism.

Be­tween 2013 and 2017, far-right groups and in­di­vid­u­als were re­spon­si­ble for 66 deaths in Western Europe and North Amer­ica. There were none in 2013 and 17 last year. That same year, the United States had 30 at­tacks re­sult­ing in 16 deaths.

The re­port’s au­thors found that lone ac­tors with white na­tion­al­ist, far-right, or anti-Mus­lim be­liefs were re­spon­si­ble for the ma­jor­ity of at­tacks in North Amer­ica and Western Europe.

“Part of it is a re­ac­tion to the im­mi­gra­tion flows, which have been ap­pear­ing in Europe, with the re­sult of the wars in the Mid­dle East,” Kil­le­lea said. “And also it’s a re­ac­tion against the ter­ror­ist at­tacks, which have oc­curred back in the U.S. and in Europe by vi­o­lent ji­hadist or vi­o­lent ex­trem­ists, vi­o­lent Mus­lim ex­trem­ists.”

Other key take­aways from the re­port:

Afghanistan, Iraq, Nige­ria, Somalia and Syria saw more than 1,000 deaths from deaths from ter­ror­ism. And 19 coun­tries had more than 100 deaths.

46 coun­tries saw lower scores and 96 coun­tries im­proved – the high­est num­ber to re­port a year-to-year im­prove­ment since 2004.

The big­gest jumps in deaths from ter­ror­ism were in Egypt and Somalia, which saw 123 per­cent and 93 per­cent in­creases, re­spec­tively.

The dead­li­est at­tacks in 2017 oc­curred in Somalia, where al-Shabab ter­ror­ists killed 587 peo­ple, and Egypt, where the Is­lamic State-Si­nai Prov­ince killed 311.

EURO­PEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

A truck bomb ex­plo­sion in Mo­gadishu, Somalia, killed more than 275 peo­ple on Oct. 1, 2017.

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