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Majority of 2013 terrorist attacks occurred in just a few countries


Majority of 2013 terrorist attacks occurred in just a few countries

More than half of all attacks carried out in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan

August 18, 2014Jessica Rivinius

The majority of terrorist attacks occurring in 2013 remained isolated in just a few countries, according to the Global Terrorism Database, which is generated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) based at the University of Maryland. With the addition of nearly 12,000 terrorist attacks in 2013, the database now includes more than 125,000 events dating back to 1970 and remains the most comprehensive unclassified database of terrorist attacks around the world.

2013 Terrorist attacks

In 2013, 11,952 terrorist attacks resulted in 22,178 fatalities (including perpetrator deaths) and 37,529 injuries across 91 countries. More than half of all attacks (54%), fatalities (61%) and injuries (69%) occurred in just three countries: Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

By wide margins, the highest number of fatalities (7,046), attacks (2,852) and injuries (15,736) took place in Iraq. The average lethality of attacks in Iraq was 34 percent higher than the global average and 30 percent higher than the 2012 average in Iraq.

“It is important to note that increases in terrorism in 2013 were geographically concentrated in many of the same places which saw high levels of political violence in 2012,” said Gary LaFree, START Director and professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice. “The list of countries that experienced the most attacks remained virtually unchanged over the past two years-terrorism is generally getting worse in the places where it has been bad for several years.”

While terrorism remained heavily concentrated in the same parts of the world, the countries within those regions experienced some notable changes. In 2013, total attacks increased for Iraq, Pakistan, the Philippines, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Lebanon; and decreased for Nigeria and Turkey.  The most lethal single attack in 2013 took place in September in Nigeria when members of Boko Haram set up illegal checkpoints and killed 142 civilians.

10 countries with the most terrorist attacks, 2013

Country

Attacks

Fatalities

Iraq

2852

7046

Pakistan

2212

2891

Afghanistan

1443

3697

India

690

464

Philippines

652

432

Thailand

477

253

Yemen

424

622

Nigeria

341

2003

Somalia

331

641

Egypt

315

243

 

Despite the devastating attack at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, which killed three and wounded more than 200, U.S. citizens remained comparatively safe from terrorism. Worldwide, 17 U.S. civilians were killed by terrorist attacks in 2013 (including contractors), which is .07 percent of all terrorism fatalities in 2013. 

According to LaFree, “these results confirm long-term regional trends that show rising numbers of attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia and diminishing numbers of attacks in North America and Western Europe.” 

Perpetrator groups

Information about the perpetrator group responsible was reported for 33 percent of terrorist attacks in 2013.

Although al-Qaida central has only been responsible for two known attacks since 2008 (both in 2011), seven of the 10 deadliest terrorist groups in the world are affiliated to some extent with the organization. These include the Taliban, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/al-Qaida in Iraq, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, al-Nusrah Front, and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

10 most lethal terrorist organizations, 2013

Group

# of Fatalities

Taliban*

2718

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/Al-Qaida in Iraq*

1868

Boko Haram*

1731

Al-Shabaab*

735

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)*

710

Al-Nusrah Front*

707

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi

404

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)*

368

David Yau Yau Militia

194

New People's Army (NPA)

156

*al-Qaida affiliated

 

GTD improvements

With the addition of the 2013 data, the GTD team also updated the database to include:

  • Completed geocoding for historical attacks in ten countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, dating back to 1970.
  • Improved classification of multiple attacks that are coordinated in a single event. This includes identifying pre-1998 attacks as part of coordinated events and linking related attacks by Event ID number throughout the entire dataset.
  • Identification of cases that lack clarity about whether the GTD inclusion criteria are satisfied (“doubt terrorism proper” and “alternative designation” variables) for pre-1998 attacks.
  • Updated information for thousands of historical cases to improve consistency and accuracy, including reviewing the inclusion criteria for all historical events, and adding more detailed information on casualty data for the 9/11 attacks. 

More information about the new variables can be found in the GTD Codebook. For questions about any of the 2014 updates, contact the GTD at gtd@start.umd.edu.

Interpreting the data

GTD data files and documentation are available for download from the START website for users who would like to conduct custom analysis of the data.

Beginning with 2012 data collection, START made several important changes to the Global Terrorism Database collection methodology, improving the efficiency and comprehensiveness of the process and access to source materials. In general, comparisons of aggregate statistics over time and between locations-- and their implications for the state of international security and global counterterrorism efforts-- should be interpreted with caution due to considerable variation in the availability of source materials. 

The GTD is compiled and maintained by START through research grants awarded to the University of Maryland by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s Office of University Programs, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism, and the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s Resilient Systems Division.