Large-scale terrorist attacks have entered the World Economic Forum’s list of the top five global risks in terms of likelihood for this year.
This is the first time it has entered this table since the annual “Global Risks” report was launched just over a decade ago:
WEF characterises large-scale terrorist attacks as “individuals or non-state groups with political or religious goals that successfully inflict large-scale human or material damage.”
The group note what role technology plays in large-scale terrorist events and how it impacts society (emphasis ours):
“Technological advances have expanded civic space by providing citizens and organisations with new opportunities to make their voices heard, express their grievances and demand their rights, and innovative ways to hold decision-makers to account. They offer virtual platforms for citizens to engage and mobilize on issues they care about.
“At the same time, ICT and other technological tools benefit individuals or groups seeking to leverage technology for the spreading of hate, misinformation and extremism, and present challenges for law enforcement and other governmental authorities attempting to monitor terrorist activity. Technological tools are also being used to increase surveillance and control over citizens, whether for legitimate security concerns or in an attempt to eradicate criticism and opposition.
“Restricting new opportunities for democratic expression and mobilization,19 and by consequence the digitally enabled array of civil, political and economic rights (such as the right to work and education; freedom of expression) — just as citizens have become more connected and engaged — creates a potentially explosive situation.”
It’s no surprise the WEF placed this topic in the likelihood table for the first time in its 12th edition of the report after considering some of the most deadly large-scale attacks that have happened over the last couple of years.
Christmas market attack in Berlin, Germany — The terrorist group ISIS, also known as Islamic State, Daesh, and ISIL, claimed responsibility for an attack where someone drove a truck into a Christmas market in the German city, which killed 12 people and injured dozens of others in December 2016.
Bastille Day attack in Nice, France — A terrorist killed 86 people and injured more than 400 after a truck ploughed into a crowd on the Promenade des Anglais in July 2016.
Bomb attacks in Brussels, Belgium — ISIS claimed responsibility for bombers that killed 35 people in the Belgian capital’s airport and metro station, in March last year.
Paris, France attacks — Several coordinated attacks in Paris killed 130 people in November 2015.
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