Ter­ror­ism deaths de­cline world­wide, re­port says

Is­lamic State de­feats in Syria, Iraq drive de­crease

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS | OPINION - 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, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in Iraq and Syria and the Nige­rian gov­ern­ment “break­ing the back” of Boko Haram are the main rea­sons for the drop in deaths re­lated to ter­ror­ism, Kil­le­lea said.

Afghanistan recorded the high­est num­ber of ter­ror-re­lated deaths among all coun­tries.

Over­all, deaths at the hands of the Is­lamic State dropped by 52 per­cent in

2017, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. Kil­le­lea pre­dicted 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. “And that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of ter­ror­ism. Be­cause al-Qaida is still highly ac­tive.”

The re­port’s au­thors say that af­ter Is­lamic State col­lapses in Iraq and Syria, the ter­ror­ist 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 fluid,” Kil­le­lea said.

Ex­trem­ist groups splin­ter, merge and form off­shoots, based on dif­fer­ences in ide­ol­ogy or strat­egy and tac­tics, he said.

“And that’s very, very dif­fi­cult for in- tel­li­gence agen­cies to re­ally track and stay on top of it,” Kil­le­lea said.

More than 99 per­cent of all deaths from ter­ror­ism hap­pened in coun­tries mired in vi­o­lent con­flict or high lev­els of po­lit­i­cal ter­ror.

The re­port found that so­cial alien­ation, lack of eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity and in­volve­ment in an ex­ter­nal con­flict are ma­jor fac­tors be­hind ter­ror­ism in eco­nom­i­cally de­vel­oped ar­eas such as North Amer­ica and Western Europe, which have wit­nessed a rise in far-right ter­ror­ism.

From 2014 through 2017, far-right groups and in­di­vid­u­als were re­spon­si­ble for 66 deaths in Western Europe and North Amer­ica.

Last year saw 17. That same year, the USA 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 flows, which have been ap­pear- ing 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 take­aways from the Global Ter­ror­ism In­dex:

❚ Five coun­tries – Afghanistan, Iraq, Nige­ria, So­ma­lia and Syria – saw more than 1,000 deaths from ter­ror­ism. Nine­teen coun­tries saw more than 100 deaths.

❚ 67 coun­tries suf­fered at least one death from ter­ror­ism in 2017.

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

❚ To­tal year-to-year deaths fell by

75 per­cent in Europe, mak­ing for the big­gest rate of im­prove­ment.

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

SAID YUSUF WARSAME/EURO­PEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

A truck bomb ex­ploded out­side the Sa­fari Ho­tel in Mo­gadishu, So­ma­lia, in Oc­to­ber 2017.

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