Major decreases in violence in Syria and Iraq led total global terror attacks to fall by 33% in 2018
Worldwide terror attacks decreased by one-third in 2018 compared to 2017, while resulting non-militant fatalities fell by more than one-quarter, according to the annual Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC) Global Attack Index, released today by business information provider IHS Markit (Nasdaq: INFO).
“Over the course of 2018 JTIC recorded a worldwide total of 15,321 attacks by non-state armed groups, which resulted in a total of 13,483 non-militant fatalities,” said Matthew Henman, head of JTIC. “The attack figure represents a significant 33.2% decrease from the recorded number of attacks in 2017.”
The figures represented the lowest annual attack total since 2011 and the lowest annual fatality figures since JTIC began collecting comprehensive event data in 2009.
Key findings from the 2018 report
- Islamic State attacks decreased by almost three-quarters and resultant fatalities by over 50%, although the group remained the deadliest worldwide in terms of number of non-militant fatalities caused.
- Syria dropped to the second highest country in terms of recorded attacks, with attacks falling by almost two-thirds and resultant fatalities falling by almost half.
- In contrast to the overall downward trend, attacks in Ukraine increased by almost one-fifth as it rose to be the most violent country in terms of recorded attacks.
- Afghanistan became the deadliest country worldwide in terms of recorded non-militant fatalities, with attacks rising by almost one-third and a significant 80% increase in fatalities.
- JTIC recorded violent activity by non-state armed groups in 90 countries worldwide in 2018, down from 116 in 2017.
Attacks by Islamic State decrease by almost three-quarters, with resultant fatalities halving
The Islamic State dropped to the second most-active non-state armed group in 2018, with attacks decreasing 71.1% from 2017. Despite a significant 51.5% decrease in fatalities, the group remained the deadliest group in 2018 in terms of recorded non-militant fatalities.
The major decrease in attacks reflected the fact that the territorial losses suffered by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria across 2017 noticeably reduced the group’s capacity to operate territorially, switching instead to lower intensity insurgent operations, interspersed by sporadic high-profile assaults - particularly in Syria. The smaller reduction in fatalities also reflected the Islamic State’s continuing capacity to conduct periodic incidences of mass-casualty violence, most notably in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and West Africa.
Attacks in Syria down by almost two-thirds as it is supplanted as most violent country in the world
Between 2017 and 2018, JTIC recorded a 63.6% decrease in the number of attacks by non-state armed groups in Syria, in addition to a significant 44.7% decrease in resultant fatalities.
“As highlighted earlier, Islamic State territorial losses were a central reason for decreasing attacks in Syria. Another key element in the downturn in violence in Syria was the increase in government control of territory,” said Henman. “Pro-government forces re-established state control over key areas of territory in and around Damascus, and in southern and central Syria.”
Ukraine attacks jumped nearly 20%, but subsequent fatalities fell sharply
Going against the grain, there was a notable 18.4% increase in attacks in Ukraine, rising to 4,422 in 2018 from 3,735 in 2017, and representing the most violent country in terms of the number of recorded attacks. Despite this, only 92 non-militant fatalities were recorded, representing a 48.0% decrease from the 177 non-militant fatalities in 2017.
This was almost entirely attributable to increasing operational activity by the two pro-Russia separatist militant groups operating in the eastern Donbass region of the country. Attacks by the Donetsk People’s Republic increased by more than one-eighth in 2018 to 3,196, resulting in the group supplanting the Islamic State as the most violent group in terms of recorded attacks.
Afghanistan becomes deadliest country in the world
Although attacks increased by 31.5%, resultant non-militant casualties in Afghanistan rose by 81.8% to 4,180 in 2018, making the country the deadliest country in the world in terms of recorded fatalities from non-state armed group attacks.
“In addition to periodic mass-casualty attacks by local Islamic State forces, the increases in both attacks and fatalities were representative of the growing strength of the Taliban, which intensified its territorial threat to the Kabul government in both rural areas and increasingly in urban centres,” said Henman.
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About Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC)
Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC) by IHS Markit uses open source data to build a global database of attacks by non-state armed groups in addition to counter-terrorism operations and key statements by state and non-state actors. The database enables users to search by location, target, group (active and dormant), tactics and casualty numbers in order to quickly obtain actionable intelligence and/or data. The database includes over 250,000 events since 2009 and tracks over 1,000 separate non-state armed groups worldwide.
Get in touch here to learn more about JTIC and other solutions from Jane’s.
About the JTIC Global Attack Index report
The JTIC dataset, used to generate the incident and trend analysis in this report, is compiled using reliable open-source intelligence (OSINT) collated from a comprehensive range of local, national, and international sources, government and inter-governmental reports, and analytical articles. Significant effort is made by JTIC analysts to verify the accuracy of reported events through detailed examining and cross-referencing of all available sources. JTIC analysts consistently review event records in the database, and records are amended and updated as additional information becomes available.
The data used in this report was last updated on 7 January 2019.
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