This year’s Global Terrorism Index (GTI), published Tuesday by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), claimed the world needs more locally-led efforts to counter extremism and conflict in the world.
According to the report, religious extremism – which accounts for the activities of terrorist groups ISIL, Boko Haram, the Taliban and al-Qa’ida and the majority of deaths from terrorism worldwide – can only be counteracted by credible forces within Islam. These local actors, it says, are best placed to recognise and respond to the underlying causes of terrorism, such as group grievances, human rights abuses and a lack of access to law and justice.
Last year 32,658 lives were lost due to terrorism, an 80 per cent increase on 2013’s figure and a nine-fold increase since 2000.
The index also highlights the consequences of the Syrian civil war, still being felt across the world today. Since the outbreak of that war in 2011, terrorist killings have spiked in the Middle East and record numbers of citizens have fled the region. Today, 10 of the 11 countries most affected by terrorism have the highest rates of refugees and internal displacement.
Presenting the report on Tuesday, IEP Executive Chairman Steve Killelea emphasised the crucial link between ongoing conflict and levels of terrorism. “What we’re seeing is people are fleeing the conflicts”, he said. “Tackling the conflicts and terrorism are one and the same.”
Despite last Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed at least 129 people, the index revealed that nearly 80 per cent of last year’s terrorist killings occurred in just five countries: Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria. However, the number of countries that suffered over 500 deaths has more than doubled, increasing from five in 2013 to 11 in 2014. In 2014, these countries were Somalia, Ukraine, Yemen, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Cameroon.
Conversely, less than three per cent of terrorist deaths since 2000 occurred in the West. But don’t be fooled – as the report suggests, terrorism in far-flung lands has repercussions in the West: it attracts European jihads to and from the fighting in Syria and Iraq, it leads to drone strikes carried out in the West’s name, and it prompts massive numbers of refugees to make perilous journeys into Europe itself.
The GTI provides a summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism over the last 15 years, as well as ranking 162 countries according to how impacted they are by terrorism. Indicators used include the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities, injuries and property damage.