A new terrorism report finds that deadly terrorist attacks in Western nations increased by over 650 percent in 2015 despite the fact that there was a 10 percent decrease in the total number of deaths due to terrorism worldwide.
The Global Terrorism Index, a report published by the Institute for Economics and Peace using statistics from the Global Terrorism Database, states that as a result of military efforts against brutal terrorists groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Boko Haram in Nigeria, the world saw its first decline in six years of the overall number of terror deaths.
Although 3,389 fewer people were killed by terrorists in 2015 compared to those killed in 2014, there was still a global total of 29,376 terror deaths, which meant that 2015 was the second deadliest year on record.
But as military efforts have worked to push radical extremist groups like IS (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and Boko Haram out of their strongholds, the terror activities of both of those groups have spread into other countries and caused those nations to face new terror threats.
"While the weakening of ISIL and Boko Haram in their central areas of operations in Iraq and Nigeria is positive, this change has coincided with two key negative trends which have driven up terrorism in the rest of the world," the report explains. "The first is ISIL's shift in tactics to transnational terrorism, not just to other parts of the Middle East but to Europe as well. The second key negative trend is Boko Haram's extension into neighboring West African countries, which has led to Cameroon and Niger rising to 13th and 16th in the GTI."
In total, the number of people killed by terrorism in Niger, Cameroon and Chad increased by over 157 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, a total of 23 countries experienced record highs in the number of terror deaths in 2015, as IS and its affiliates were active in 28 countries around the world and spread to 15 new countries in 2015.
"This is largely why a record number of countries recorded their highest levels of terrorism in any year in the past 16 years," the report states.
As IS militants and lone wolves inspired by the terror group have conducted attacks and killed scores of people in Western nations in 2015, including the United States and France, the report finds that there were a total of 577 terror deaths recorded in the 34 member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development IGO. The 577 mark is 500 more terror deaths than the 77 terror deaths recorded in the OECD nations in 2014.
"ISIL's role in this increase was significant as more than half of the 577 deaths were in connection to the group," the report explains. "The attacks by ISIL in Paris, Brussels and in Turkey's capital Ankara, were amongst the most devastating in the history of these countries and reflect a disturbing return of the transnational group-based terrorism more associated with al-Qaeda before and immediately after September 11."
While 21 of the 34 OECD countries had at least one terrorist attack, the majority of the terror killings in OECD countries took place in Turkey and France.
The report also finds that while much of the international attention focused on defeating IS, that left the Taliban to record its deadliest year in Afghanistan.
"Both terrorist deaths and battlefield deaths committed by the Taliban significantly increased in 2015," the report finds. "Terrorism increased 29 percent to 4,502 deaths and battlefield deaths increased 34 percent to over 15,000."
Although terrorism has risen over 650 percent in OECD countries, still 72 percent of the total global terror deaths came in the five countries where terror is most prevalent — Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
Additionally, just four terrorist groups and their affiliates were responsible for 74 percent of the world's terror killings — IS, al-Qaeda, Taliban and Boko Haram.
Seventy-six countries improved their Global Terrorism Index scores in the 2016 report, while only 53 countries received worse scores. In all, the global GTI score worsened by six percent in 2015 because of the increase in the number of countries that experience record highs for terrorism.