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The terror bomb is still ticking

This post was published in InfoSecurity24. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.

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WARSAW, (BM) – COVID-19 and other numerous problems occurring in various parts of the world have caused the international community to increasingly forget about the terrorist threat. Unfortunately, however, it still exists, and in some cases it even grows. This is confirmed, for example, by the information contained in the latest study “Country Reports on Terrorism 2019” published in June 2020, commissioned by the US Department of State.

The data presented in the report show that in 2019 there were 8302 terrorist incidents worldwide in 2019, i.e. by 3 percent. more than a year earlier. Statistically speaking, this means more than 20 such events a day. Last year, they concerned 89 countries and territories on different continents, which shows the still global nature of the threat. About 84 percent of them were concentrated in three geographical regions: West Asia, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

On the other hand, the countries most threatened by terrorism include: Afghanistan, Syria, India, Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen, the Philippines, Colombia and the Congo – comprising a total of 74 percent. all incidents. The absolute leader is still Afghanistan, where the number of attacks increased significantly (+35 percent) (from 1,294 in 2018 to 1,750 in 2019). Syria was second (+ 18%, from 871 to 1028), and third, which may come as a surprise, India (down 2%, from 671 to 655 incidents).

The authors of the report indicate that last year 25,082 people died as a result of terrorist attacks (a decrease of 24% compared to 2018), 19,924 were injured (-12%), and there were 2,895 kidnappings (-18%). .). The largest number of victims (killed and wounded) was registered in Afghanistan (over 16,000) and Syria (almost 5,000). However, attention is drawn primarily to the case of Afghanistan, where, despite a decrease in their number (-4%), 36% were registered anyway. all the world’s victims of terrorism. A much stronger downward trend in this category was recorded in Syria (-25%) and Yemen (-54%), while the largest increase in casualties was in Burkina Faso (+219%).

An important aspect in “Country Reports on Terrorism” is the description of the attacker or perpetrators. As in previous years, in the case of some incidents (around 30%), they could not be clearly identified. The most dangerous and active groups include: the Taliban (1,459 incidents, compared to 2018, an increase of +35%), The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – ISIS (575, a decrease of -11%), al-Shabaab (484, -10% decrease), Communist Party of India-Maoist (292, +65% increase) and Boko Haram (272, +24% increase). In addition, the report characterizes over 60 other terrorist structures. It should be emphasized that the Department of State separately examines individual groups affiliated with or cooperating with ISIS. There were 19 of them in total in the area of ​​26 countries.

They often use a similar part of the name (e.g. ISIS-Bangladesh, ISIS-Greater Sahara, Islamic State’s Khorasan Province, ISIS-Philippines, ISIS Sinai Province, ISIS-West Africa). In 2019 alone, they led to over 900 terrorist incidents. Of these, the greatest escalation of activity was recorded in the case of ISIS West Africa (85 incidents, an increase of 325%). A similar case applies to groups operating within the so-called Al-Qaida networks mentioned in Report 10 (including al-Shabaab mentioned above or, for example, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula). Last year, they were responsible for more than 700 terrorist incidents.

Among the victims of terrorist attacks around the world, the largest group were uniforms (30 percent), followed by the “local community” (27 percent) and officials, including government and local government (19 percent). However, these indicators varied considerably in different parts of the world, which resulted from the profile of the organizations operating there. For example, Boko Haram or ISIS were more likely to attack “the local community,” and the Taliban, al-Shabaab or the Communist Party of India-Maoist representatives of the military and government. The methods used by terrorists also varied, covering a total of about 30 different categories identified by the authors of the report. For example: 41 percent of cases are the use of firearms, 15 percent. – mines and improvised explosives, 13 percent – bomb attacks, 3 percent – kidnappings, 3 percent – damage to property, and 2 percent. – suicide bombings.

Summarizing the presented data, it should be emphasized that terrorism continues to be a serious global challenge (over 8,000 incidents in 2019). In some countries (eg Afghanistan, Syria or Yemen), although the scale of attacks increased in the analyzed period, the number of their victims also decreased. This tendency is confirmed by statistics showing, for example, a decline in attacks classified by the Department of State as “serious” (involving 6 to 10 victims) from 15 percent. in 2018 to 13 percent in 2019, “severe” (11-20 victims) from 10% up to 8 percent or “critical” (over 20 victims) with 8 percent. up to 6 percent

The most active and, at the same time, the most dangerous perpetrator of terrorist attacks in the world last year were the Taliban again, who are responsible for 18 percent. total incidents (about 1.5 thousand). This is an increase of 35 percent. compared to the previous year. Their actions resulted in the death or injury of nearly 14,000. people, which means as much as 31 percent. total victims of global terrorism. Groups directly or indirectly related to The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – ISIS (over 900 incidents in total) and Al-Qaida (over 700) also remain very dangerous despite the indicated declines in activity. Other organizations are also becoming active, including of an extreme left-wing nature, e.g. in India or the Philippines.

Terrorism is sometimes compared to “old wine served in ever new bottles”. On the one hand, this means that it is a timeless threat, while on the other, it emphasizes that from time to time it takes on new forms and elements of tactics or strategies. Terrorism, inter alia, due to the scale or nature of the threat, can also be compared to a still “ticking bomb”

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