x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 November 2017

Number of global terrorist attacks down, but Europe faces evolving threat 

Last year was continent's worst for violence since 1988

The number of deaths and attacks caused by terrorists decreased last year compared to 2015, according to the Global Terrorism Index 2017, but trends suggest violence will continue.

The number of countries which experienced at least one death from terrorism was greater last year than at any other time in the past 17 years. The number of countries rose from 65 in 2016 to 77 last year, while the global score - which registers the impact of terrorism - decreased by 4 per cent from 2015.

“Globally, the really big improvement occurred in Nigeria, because Boko Haram was the deadliest group two years ago,” said Daniel Hyslop, research director at the Institute for Economics and Peace, a Sydney, Australia-based think tank. “Deaths have gone down 80 per cent, which means 3,000 fewer people being killed from terrorism in that country, thanks to cooperation in that region.”

In Europe and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, 2016 was the worst year - apart from 2001 and the 9/11 attacks on the US - since 1988 for terrorist violence.

“When you look at the region, it’s because of an increase in lone attacks and ISIL-inspired extremists,” Mr Hyslop said. “There’s been 82 deaths from terrorism in OECD countries and there were 260 for the full year of 2016, so by raw count of deaths, there have been fewer deaths.”

He said, however, that the trend could swing the other way.

“We know there’s a large number of loners that security services are monitoring and there’s always the potential for there to be an increase in the trend,” he said. “But the report also shows the percentage of foiled attacks has improved, from 19 per cent in 2015 to 34 per cent in 2016, so a lot of these attacks are being intercepted by security forces.”

Since the Nice truck attack in July 2016, at least 13 other attacks using vehicles have been carried out in OECD countries, including the attack in Manhattan two weeks ago.

Eleven of these attacks have targeted civilians with at least six on crowds. “OECD countries face the challenge [of foreign fighters joining new permutations in other conflicts] as they return from Syria and Iraq with ISIL-directed attacks increasing from 11 countries in 2015 to 15 in 2016,” said Steve Killelea, IEP’s executive chairman.