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Deaths from terrorism fell by 27% last year, with attacks by ISIS claiming half as many lives

The number of deaths from terrorism has fallen by 27 per cent, declining for the third year in a row, a global report has found. 

In Europe alone, the number of people killed by terrorism fell by 75 per cent last year, despite a marked increase in far-right attacks, according to the 2018 Global Terrorism Index (GTI).

In 2017, 81 deaths were recorded in Europe, down from 168 in 2016, and the trend has continued into this year with just eight deaths recorded up until October 2018. 

Islamist extremists ISIS remain the world’s deadliest terrorist organisation despite a 52 per cent decrease in deaths from attacks attributed to the group.   

Weaker: Deaths from ISIS terror attacks have more than halved in a year, a declining number which has been attributed to the group’s military defeat as well as counter-terrorism improvements

‘The marked improvements in Europe can be attributed to a number of reasons,’ said Steve Killelea, Executive Chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) think-tank which publishes the GTI.

‘ISIS has lost much of its attractiveness due to its military defeats and weakened capabilities to mount attacks in Europe. 

‘Increases in counter-terrorism funding, combined with better surveillance techniques, have also contributed to the steep reduction of deaths in Europe from terrorism.’ 

In 2017, 18,814 people were either murdered or took their own lives in terror attacks around the world, with 67 countries recording at least one death by terrorism.

The IEP found that 99 per cent of all deaths from terrorism occur in countries which are involved in at least one violent conflict or have a high level of political terror, such as extra-judicial killings, torture and imprisonment without trial. 

Fields, who lives in Maumee, Ohio, is charged with killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring dozens when he plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at the white supremacist rally

Heather Heyer

James Alex Fields, 21, is charged with killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring dozens when he plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at the white supremacist ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, North Virginia, in August 2017

Five countries – Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria – recorded more than 1,000 deaths, with Somalia recording the largest increase in 2017 with 93 per cent more deaths than 2016. 

‘IEP’s research finds that conflict and state terror are the principal causes of terrorism,’ adds Mr Killelea. 

‘All ten countries most impacted by terrorism were involved in at least one violent conflict and eight were involved in a major war with at least 1,000 battle deaths.’

The EIP added that while there had been a sharp decrease in deadly terror attacks in the West, there has been a notable rise of far-right political terrorism in the past four years.

In 2013 not a single death was caused by far-right terrorism in Western Europe and North America, compared to 17 last year.

In North America, 60 per cent of all terrorism deaths were caused by the far-right.

One notable such a attack took place at the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, North Virginia in August 2017, during which a white extremist drove a car into a crowd and killed 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer.

The majority of far-right attacks were carried out by lone actors with white nationalist, or anti-Muslim beliefs, the IEP noted.


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