Perspective on terrorism

Terrorism is on the rise globally and occurs most frequently in countries outside the Western world. Photo by Anthony Garnier.

America has a terrorism problem. America has always had a terrorism problem. There has never been a period in history where terrorism wasn’t a problem. We may call it different things and it may manifest itself in different ways but for as long as there are people, there will be terrorists.

But what does terrorism look like in the modern age? Well, consulting the Global Terrorism Index we get a very specific image.

Terrorism is in fact on the rise: 32,650 people were killed by terrorism in the year 2014, an 80 percent increase from 18,111 of the previous year. The number of countries reporting terrorist attacks has also increased this year from 88 to 93. Furthermore there was a 120 percent increase from five to 11 countries reporting terrorist attacks with over 500 casualties, with Nigeria being the primary recipient.

The top five countries affected by terrorism are Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, respectively. These are no doubt caused by the ongoing Syrian Civil War and the fight against Isis. The first European country on the list is the Ukraine, ranked at 12, then Russia at 23 and the UK at 28. The U.S. comes in at 35 with a score of 4.6 on a 1-10 scale.

The two most deadly terror attacks of the year were committed by ISIS in Iraq. In October they stormed a prison, released the Sunni, and executed 670 Shiites. Earlier in March they killed nearly 500 Yazidi in a single village. Boko Haram committed the third largest terror attack in Nigeria which claimed nearly 300 lives. The fourth most damaging attack was also perpetrated by ISIS in Iraq, where 270 people died in the crossfire between ISIS and National Defense soldiers. Finally, the fifth is the Donetsk People’s Republic who downed a passenger plane over the Ukraine, killing everyone on board.

Terrorism in the West accounts for 2.6 percent of the world’s terrorist attacks in the past 15 years. In the United States there have been 19 recorded terrorist attacks, 12 of which were from right wing extremists with ties to sovereign citizens. The remaining seven were committed by people with ties to radical Islam.

Though religion is a serious motivator for terrorism, it is far from the largest one. The Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka lead the world in suicide bombings, which makes sense considering they invented the suicide belt and pioneered the use of women in suicide attacks. This secular militant communist organization is the first and only group to acquire air power, and have begun incorporating light aircraft into their attacks. That being said, religion has been the motivator for 19 percent of attacks in the West with the remaining 81 percent comprised of issues like politics and racism. Furthermore, most terrorists who are captured alive, are lonely teenagers who were, for lack of a better term, peer pressured into it.

Terrorism is an interesting phenomenon, yet with this data we can hopefully create a clearer image on what it is, who performs it and how to stop it.


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