The deadly rise of terrorism in the 21st century

Photo: Abid Katib/ Getty .

Last year, the total number of deaths from terrorist atrocities increased 80% from the 2013 figure.

This is the largest yearly increase in deaths from terrorism ever recorded.

It’s part of a long-term trend: since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been over a nine-fold increase in the number of deaths from terrorism, with the number of fatalities rising from 3,329 in 2000 to 32,658 in 2014.

Most of it, as you might expect, driven by the rise of the extremely violent Islamic fundamentalist movements – Islamic State, which was responsible for last Friday’s attacks in Paris which killed more than 130 people, and the affiliated Boko Haram, which has been active in Africa.

According to The 2015 Global Terrorism Index from the Institute for Economics & Peace, Boko Haram and ISIL between them were responsible for 51% of all claimed global fatalities caused by terrorism in 2014.

In March Boko Haram pledged its allegiance to ISIL as the Islamic State’s West Africa Province. Making it the world’s deadliest terrorist group, causing 6,644 deaths. ISIL was responsible for 6,073.

The increased terrorist activity however was not widespread with five countries – Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria – accounting for 78% of deaths.

Meanwhile in the West, lone wolf attackers are the main perpetrators of terrorist activity, causing 70% of all deaths over the past 10 years. And 80% of lone wolf deaths were by political extremists, nationalists, racial and religious supremacists, rather than Islamic extremists.

According to the report the economic cost of terrorism also reached its highest ever level in 2014 at US$52.9 billion, an increase of 61% from the previous year’s total of US$32.9 billion, and a tenfold increase since 2000.

Here are the key findings from the report.

Two countries, Iraq and Nigeria, account for 53% of all deaths from terrorism in 2014. The levels in Iraq are the highest ever recorded in a single country with 9,929 deaths, an increase of 55% from 2013. There were three times as many terrorist deaths in Iraq in 2014 than in the entire world in the year 2000.

Deaths from terrorism have increased dramatically over the last 15 years. The number of people who have died from terrorist activity has increased ninefold since the year 2000.

Boko Haram overtook ISIL to become the most deadly terrorist group in the world. Deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 317% in 2014 to 6,644. ISIL was responsible for 6,073 terrorist deaths.

The economic cost of terrorism increased by 61% in 2014 to reach its highest ever level at US$52.9 billion. However, costs from terrorism are lower than other forms of violence. The losses from violent crime and homicide globally were 32 times greater than losses from terrorism.

This year’s report highlights a sharp increase in the number of countries experiencing major terrorist activity. There was a 120% increase in the number of countries that suffered more than 500 deaths — 11 countries in 2014, up from five countries in 2013.

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