The recent release of the U.S. Department of State's Report on Terrorism for 2015 provides us with an interesting statistical analysis of global terrorism during the year that was 2015. This annual statistical report is part of State's mandate under Title 22, Section 2626f of the United States Code. Since June 2012, data for State's annual statistical report has been collected by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) and it is responsible for maintaining the entire Global Terrorism Database (GTD) which you can find here. In this two part posting, I will first look at the statistics for global terrorism as a whole followed by part two where I will examine the data for how many American private citizens were killed, injured and kidnapped during overseas terrorist activities in 2015.
The GTD includes data on more than 140,000 terrorist attacks that have taken place around world between 1970 and the present. To be included in the GTD database, the terrorist attack must include at least two of the three following criteria:
1.) The violent act was aimed at attaining a political, economic, religious, or social goal.
2.) The violent act included evidence of an intention to coerce, intimidate, or convey some other message to a larger audience (or audiences) other than the immediate victims.
3.) The violent act was outside the precepts of International Humanitarian Law insofar as it targeted non-combatants.
In the case of the U.S. Department of State statistical analysis, the attack must include all three criteria to meet the definition of a terrorist attack as defined by the U.S. Code.
Now that we have that background, let's look at the data for 2015. In total, during 2015, there were 11,774 terrorist attacks around the world in which there were 28,328 deaths, 35,320 injuries and 12,189 kidnappings. The number of terrorist attacks declined by 13 percent on a year-over-year basis (in 2014 there was 13,463) and the total number of deaths related to terrorist attacks declined by 14 percent on a year-over-year basis (in 2014 there was 32,727). The number of attacks in which victims were kidnapped declined, however, the number of hostages taken rose by 29 percent, largely because several events resulted in the kidnapping of very large number of hostages. Here is a table showing the number of attacks, deaths, injuries and kidnappings/hostages that took place on a monthly basis during 2015:
For your own illumination, here is a graphic showing the number of global terrorist-related deaths since 2006:
As you can see, 2015 was the second worst year for global terrorist-related deaths in the last ten years.
Terrorist attacks took place in 92 nations around the world with 55 percent of all attacks taking place in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria) and 74 percent of all deaths took place in Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria and Pakistan as shown on this table which compares the statistics for 2014 and 2015:
Unfortunately, given the difficulty in getting accurate reports from Syria, the estimates of terrorist activities for that nation are conservative estimates.
On average, on a monthly basis, there were 981 attacks that claimed the lives of 2,361 people and injured 2,943 people which works out to 2.5 deaths and 3.3 injuries per attack (including the perpetrator of the attack). This is down slightly from 2.57 deaths and up from 2.87 injuries per attack during 2014. Historically, during the years between 2012 and 2014, the number of attacks has peaked during the spring months of March, April and May during what is termed the "spring fighting season" in Afghanistan, however 2015 was different in that the peak number of attacks took place in January and generally declined throughout the remainder of the year. That said, Afghanistan itself still saw the number of attacks that took place increase from 88 in February to 200 in May and the number of attacks carried by ISIL in Iraq peaked in both April and July, 2015.
When you look through the data on global terrorism, it is interesting to see that out of the ten countries with the most terrorist attacks during 2015, three have been the recipients of U.S.-led nation rebuilding exercises/experiments. Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya had a combined 4554 terrorist attacks during 2015, accounting for 38.7 percent of global terrorist attacks. In total, 12,786 people died in terrorist-related activities in these three nations alone, representing 45.1 percent of all people killed in global terrorist attacks during 2015. Unfortunately, unless the attacks take place on European or North American soil, they barely register in the Western public consciousness and mainstream media.
So much for that War on Terror.
In part two of this posting, I will look at how global terrorism has impacted American citizens.