Terrorism Deaths in the U.S. Increased 60% in 2016 Despite Overall Global Decrease According to 2017 Global Terrorism Index Released by Institute for Economics & Peace

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Number of attacks and deaths increased significantly last year compared to 2015, with the highest number of deaths since September 11 attacks

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“Based on an escalating number of deaths and attacks, the U.S. received its worst score in a decade,” said Michelle Breslauer, Director, Americas Program for the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP).

- U.S. suffers highest rate of lone-actor attacks among developed nations

  • Report finds approximately 93% of U.S. attacks since 1970 committed by home-grown terrorists and the majority carried out by U.S. citizens or permanent residents
  • U.S. ranks 32nd, right behind Russia (33), with the United Kingdom at 35, and Israel 36, in 2017 Global Terrorism Index (GTI)
  • In the developed world terrorist attacks are becoming less sophisticated and more likely to be directed against civilian targets, such as attacks using vehicles
  • Improvements in counterterrorism strategies foiled more plots worldwide in 2016 than previous two years
  • Globally, deaths from terrorism continue to decrease, with a 22% drop since the peak in 2014

Despite an overall downward trend in terrorism in the world’s hot spots in 2016, the United States experienced 64 terror-related deaths last year, the highest number since the September 11 attacks. Released by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) less than a month after the deadly ISIL-inspired truck attack that left eight people dead in New York City, the 2017 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) points to troubling trends in the types and frequencies of attacks in the U.S.

For the second consecutive year, deaths from terrorism have decreased globally, with a 22% decrease to 25,673 deaths compared to the peak of terror activity in 2014 when over 32,500 people were killed. However, in this same period the U.S. has seen a 240% increase in deaths from terrorism, from 19 in 2014 to 64 in 2016.

Improvements in counterterrorism strategies have foiled more attacks worldwide than in previous years—two in 10 attacks were prevented in 2014 and 2015 while three in 10 attacks were foiled in 2016. Nearly half of all attacks using bombings and explosions were foiled, but low-tech attacks, such as using vehicles, are harder to prevent. Since the July 2016 truck attack in Nice, France, at least 13 other attacks using vehicles have been carried out in developed countries including the October 2017 attack in Manhattan. Eleven of these attacks have explicitly targeted civilians with at least six targeting crowds.

“Based on an escalating number of deaths and attacks, the U.S. received its worst score in a decade,” said Michelle Breslauer, Director, Americas Program for IEP, which has issued the annual report since 2012. “Among developed nations, the U.S. has the highest rate of lone-actor attacks, most carried out by citizens, and motivated by a range of extremist ideologies, from political to religious. These findings suggest that the U.S. is facing an ongoing threat from less sophisticated, home-grown attacks.”

The yearly report from IEP, which is based on the Global Terrorism Database by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), based at the University of Maryland, as well as other sources, provides the most comprehensive resource on global terrorist trends.

Global Terrorism Overview

The report finds that while the global numbers of deaths and attacks recorded a decrease in 2016, there are still worrying trends as more countries than at any other time in the past 17 years experienced at least one death from terrorism. In total 77 countries experienced at least one terrorism death, up from 65 in 2016—resulting in the overall global GTI score, registering the impact of terrorism, deteriorating by 4% from 2015.

The global downward trend highlights a turning point in the fight against radical Islamist extremism with four of the five countries most affected by terrorism, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, recording an improvement. The largest reduction occurred in Nigeria where deaths attributed to Boko Haram decreased by 80% in 2016, as the terror group faced mounting pressure from the Multinational Joint Task Force.

“Although these gains are encouraging, there are still serious areas of concern,” said Steve Killelea, Executive Chairman of IEP. “The future stability of Syria and Iraq will play a critical role in determining the impact of terrorism in the years ahead. In Iraq, the government will face challenges in maintaining a lasting peace through an inclusive society that avoids fuelling sectarian violence. The evolving threat of ISIL also remains. While it has suffered significant setbacks to its territory, military strength and funding, the potential for hardened fighters to leave and join new permutations in other conflict areas around the world is very real. Developed countries face this challenge as foreign fighters return from Syria and Iraq with ISIL directed attacks increasing from 11 countries in 2015 to 15 in 2016.”

A key finding of the research is that 99% of all terrorism deaths in the past 17 years have occurred in countries that either are in conflict or have high levels of political terror. Political terror signifies the presence of extra-judicial killings, torture and imprisonment without trial. This finding demonstrates the risks associated with counterterrorism strategies that can exacerbate existing grievances that fuel extremism and terrorism. Turkey and Egypt recorded some of the biggest increases in deaths following major government crackdowns.

Terrorist attacks and deaths are still highly concentrated with 94% of all terrorist deaths taking place in the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Central America and the Caribbean are the least affected regions with only 12 deaths, or less than 0.4% of the total.

The full 2017 Global Terrorism Index report and interactive map are available at http://www.visionofhumanity.org.

Global Terrorism Index
The GTI report by the Institute for Economics & Peace provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism over the last 17 years. The report ranks 163 countries (99.6% of the world’s population) according to how impacted they are by terrorism. The indicators include the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities, injuries and property damage. To learn more, visit the GTI website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Global Terrorism Database
The GTI uses data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) datasets on terrorism by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland.

Institute for Economics & Peace
IEP is the world’s leading think tank dedicated to developing metrics to analyse peace and to quantify its economic value. It does this by developing global and national indices, including the annual Global Peace Index, calculating the economic cost of violence and understanding positive peace.

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