Terrorism on Upsurge: Boko Haram and ISIS Lead the Way


2015-11-20 By defenceWeb

Boko Haram and Islamic State (IS) were jointly responsible for 51% of all claimed global terror fatalities in 2014, with Boko Haram taking over IS as the world’s deadliest terror group with 7 500 deaths last year.

This is according to a new report indicating terrorism is at its highest level ever.

The number of lives lost to terrorism increased by 80% in 2014, reaching the highest level ever recorded at 32 658, compared to 18 111 in 2013, according to the third edition of the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) released earlier this week. The report also highlights the dramatic rise in terrorism over time, with deaths increasing by nine-fold since the year 2000.

The report, developed by the Institute for Economics and Peace and based on data from the Global Terrorism Database of START, revealed that Boko Haram, which pledged its allegiance to IS as the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) in March 2015, has become the world’s deadliest terrorist group, causing 6 644 deaths compared to IS’s 6 073.

In addition, another terrorist group has emerged in Nigeria, the Fulani militants, who killed 1,229 in 2014. The group was responsible for sixty-three deaths in the prior year. This meant that Nigeria experienced the largest increase in terrorist activity with 7 512 deaths in 2014, an increase of over 300% since 2013. Due to the increase in deadliness of Boko Haram, Nigeria now has the second highest number of deaths, behind Iraq.

The Fulani militants now pose a serious threat to stability, according to the report. “There has been an ongoing conflict over access and control of land between the semi-nomadic Fulani herdsmen and farmers in north-eastern Nigeria. There have been reports of a link between Boko Haram and Fulani militants, particularly in regards to smuggling and organized crime. However, unlike Boko Haram who are now affiliated with IS and align with the establishment of a caliphate, the Fulani militants have very localized goals, mainly greater access to grazing lands for livestock.”

Boko Haram attack in Nigeria. Credit: defenceWeb
Boko Haram attack in Nigeria. Credit: defenceWeb

“The new president, Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Nigerian Army major general, has made the reduction of corruption and the defeat of Boko Haram as his main priorities. The new government will provide a change in the country’s strategic approach to these groups. Any successful approach will need to deal effectively with the terrorist groups while also addressing the underlying drivers of conflict in the country,” the report stated.

Nigeria is ranked number three in terms of the impact of terrorism, with Iraq and Afghanistan topping the list.

South Africa was given a ranking of number 38, with a low to medium impact from terrorism.

The Global Terrorism Index noted that terrorism is highly concentrated, with just five countries – Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria – accounting for 78% of all deaths in 2014. Iraq continues to be the country most impacted by terrorism, with 3,370 attacks killing 9,929 people. This is the highest number of terrorism incidents and fatalities ever recorded by a single country.

As a result of increased terrorist activity, the economic cost of terrorism 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, according to the report.

The report highlighted the growing spread of terrorism in the past year, revealing that the number of countries that suffered more than 500 deaths has more than doubled, increasing from five in 2013 to 11 in 2014.

The new additions were Somalia, Ukraine, Yemen, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Cameroon. For instance, Cameroon didn’t experience any deaths from terrorism in 2013 and had over 500 deaths each in 2014. In 2014 Cameroon had 530 deaths, largely driven by Boko Haram encroaching into Cameroon.

Steve Killelea, Executive Chairman of IEP, said, “The significant increase in terrorist activity has meant that its ramifications are being felt more widely throughout the world. What is most striking from our analysis is how the drivers of terrorism differ between more and less developed countries. In the West, socio-economic factors such as youth unemployment and drug crime correlate with terrorism. In non-OECD countries, terrorism shows stronger associations with ongoing conflict, corruption and violence.

“Ten of the eleven countries most affected by terrorism also have the highest rates of refugees and internal displacement. This highlights the strong inter-connectedness between the current refugee crisis, terrorism and conflict.”

The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria since 2011 is the largest influx in modern times.

Current estimates now range from 25,000 to 30,000 fighters, from roughly 100 countries. Half of the foreign fighters travelling to Iraq and Syria are from neighboring MENA countries and a quarter from Europe and Turkey. The flow of foreign fighters does not appear to be diminishing, with over 7,000 arriving in the first six months of 2015.

Statistical analysis of the patterns of terrorist activity since 1989 found that there were two factors most closely associated with terrorism, the report stated. These are the levels of political violence committed by the state, and the level of armed conflict within a country. The report finds that 92% of all terrorist attacks between 1989 and 2014 occurred in countries where political violence by the government was widespread, while 88% of all terrorist attacks between 1989 and 2014 occurred in countries that were experiencing or involved in violent conflicts.

Steve Killelea commented, “Since we can see a number of clearly identifiable socio-political factors that foster terrorism, it is important to implement policies that aim to address these associated causes. This includes reducing state-sponsored violence, diffusing group grievances, and improving respect for human rights and religious freedoms, while considering cultural nuances.”

Lone wolf attackers are the main perpetrators of terrorist activity in the West, causing 70% of all deaths over the past 10 years.

Islamic fundamentalism is not the main driver of terrorism in Western countries: 80% of lone wolf deaths are by political extremists, nationalists, racial and religious supremacists.

While many countries experience no terrorist activity, the number of countries to experience at least one or more deaths from terrorist activity has increased from 59 in 2013 to 67 in 2014. This includes OECD countries such as Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada and France.

Importantly, over 60% of the countries in the report experienced no deaths from terrorism.

Since 2000, less than 3% of terrorist deaths occurred in the West. Thirteen times as many people are killed globally by homicides than die in terrorist attacks.

Although many countries saw an increase in terror attacks, some saw a decrease.

For instance, Algeria had the second biggest decrease in deaths in 2014, dropping by 82. This represents a 92 per cent decline. With only seven deaths in 2014, Algeria reached its lowest levels of terrorism since 1993.

The fall in deaths in Algeria is largely due to the lessening activity of al-Mua’qi’oon Biddam Brigade (Those who Sign with Blood), a group that killed 69 in Algeria in 2013 and none in 2014.

Republished with the permission of our partner defenceWeb: