The number of terrorist incidents has increased virtually every year since 9/11 according to the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), which launches today. However, terrorism fatalities have fallen by 25% since 2007, which coincides with the wind down of the Iraq war. Despite this Iraq was still the country most likely to suffer from terrorism in 2011. During the last decade, the Middle East and North Africa region has seen the highest number of fatalities due to terrorism, closely followed by Asia Pacific.
Produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) the GTI is the first index to rank countries on the impact of terrorism and analyses the associated economic and social dimensions. The index is based on data from the Global Terrorism Database, which is collected and collated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), headquartered at the University of Maryland.
The index scores 158 countries over the last 10 years by aggregating a series of indicators. These include the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities, injuries and property damage. The GTI analyses many other factors and has found intergroup cohesion, human rights, group grievances, corruption and governance to be associated with terrorism.
Surprisingly, low-income countries are less affected by terrorism than lower middle-income countries, indicating that poverty is not necessarily a main cause of terrorism. Private citizens and property are the most common targets of terrorism while the military is targeted in only 4% of attacks. The U.S., Algeria and Colombia had the biggest improvements over the last ten years.
Most terrorist attacks occur in a wider conflict situation. The index shows that global terrorism only started to increase after the escalation of the Iraq war. This was subsequently followed by further increasing waves of terrorism in Afghanistan and then in Pakistan eighteen months later.
“Terrorism is one of the most emotive subjects of our time. The impact of terrorism does seem to have plateaued over the last three years but is still unacceptably high. The aim of the GTI is to systematically analyse and quantify the phenomena” said Steve Killelea, Executive Chairman of IEP. “The GTI examines trends to help inform a positive and practical debate about the future of terrorism and appropriate policy responses.”
In the decade since 9/11, fatalities from terrorist attacks have increased by 195%, incidents by 460% and injuries by 224%. Interestingly, the seven countries that have suffered the most fatalities due to terrorism since 9/11 account for nearly three quarters of deaths in this period, with Iraqis suffering the most.
In 2011, the areas most impacted by terrorism were the Middle East, India, Pakistan and Russia. There were 7473 fatalities in 2011, which is 25% less than in 2007.
“I welcome the launch of the Global Terrorism Index,” said Khalid Mahmood MP, Chair of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Tackling Terrorism. “It promises to be a useful tool for policymakers in their efforts to track and tackle terrorism.”
Often perceived as a major target for terrorist attacks, North America is the least likely region to suffer from terrorism, with a fatality rate 19 times lower than Western Europe. The U.S. has had the largest improvement in GTI score from 2002 – 2011, dropping from 1st to 41st in the index, as the effects of 9/11 dissipated.
According to Killelea“The GTI highlights that many of the countries suffering the most from terrorism have also suffered from foreign military intervention. Although the ‘responsibility to protect’ is paramount, caution needs to be taken against unwanted consequences. I urge policymakers to use the findings of this report to help redefine tackling terrorism strategies and help shift focus towards peace.”