The Institute for Economics & Peace has published the Global Terrorism Index (with data to the end of 2018). It confirms a 52% decrease in terror-related deaths since the number peaked in 2014. In 2018, the total number of deaths fell by 15.2% to 15,952. Between 1970 and 2017, close to 170,000 people have fallen victim to terrorist attacks. By contrast, the number of countries to have recorded at least one fatality has slightly increased, to 71 (two more than the previous year).
The overall decline in deaths primarily corresponds to military defeats inflicted on the Islamic State (ISIL), which in 2018 had only 18,000 fighters left in Iraq and Syria, down from 70,000 in 2014. Military successes against the group have resulted in a 63% reduction in their attacks and a subsequent 69% decrease in fatalities. United States-led airstrikes targeting Al-Shabaab in Somalia, have also contributed. However, despite successes in the fight against Nigeria’s Boko-Haram, the country still ranks third in the world for terrorist incidents, with a total of 8,567 during 2018, and an increase of more than one hundred terror-related deaths compared to the previous year. The activities of extremist Fulanis are thought to be responsible for the increase.
The South Asia region recorded the highest number of deaths, with Afghanistan’s 9,603 attacks and 7,379 deaths in 2018 (a 59% increase), pushing it into first place. Most of those deaths can be attributed to the increasing activity of Taliban groups, far outweighing the decline in deaths caused by ISIL. The notable decrease in fatalities brought about by ISIL’s retreat has seen Iraq move down into second place.
In Europe, the number of deaths from terrorism fell for the second successive year, from over two hundred in 2017 to 62 in 2018. The total number of terrorist incidents also fell by 40%, to 245 in 2018, the lowest figure since 2014.
Another relevant trend revealed by the report is the confirmed surge in far-right political terrorism since 2014. Although the absolute number of far-right attacks remains low when compared to other forms of terrorism, in North America, Western Europe, and Oceania, far-right attacks have increased by 320% over the past five years. In 2018, the number of people killed by far-right attacks rose to 26 (compared to 11 the previous year). This trend continued into 2019, with 77 deaths recorded as of September that year. The upward trend is significant and extremely worrying. This type of attack is more likely to be carried out by individuals unaffiliated with a specific terrorist group (60%).