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Global Trends in Terrorism, 1970- 2011


Given the amount of publicity that terrorism receives in the print and electronic media, many would likely assume that terrorist attacks and fatalities have been steadily rising since 1970, the starting point of the dataset. As Figure 5.1 shows, however, trends in terrorism over time have actually been more complex. Through the mid-1970s, worldwide terrorist attacks were relatively infrequent, with fewer than 1,000 incidents each year until 1977. From 1978 to 1979, however, the number of attacks increased by 74 percent, from 1,527 to 2,663. The annual frequency generally continued to increase until the 1992 peak (5,081 attacks), with smaller peaks in 1984 (3,494 attacks) and 1989 (4,322 attacks). After 1992, the number of terrorist attacks dropped dramatically to a 20-year low in 1998 (but see footnote 2). In fact, total attacks in 2000 (1,815), the year prior to the 9/11 attacks, were just a few hundred more than the corresponding figure for 1978 (1,527). Attacks rose again sharply around the time that the United States and its allies invaded Iraq in 2003. By 2011, total attacks (5,066) were barely less than the record level experienced in 1992. This ebb and flow results in one of the most striking features of Figure 5.1: the pronounced U-shape pattern in total terrorist attacks from 1992 to 2011.

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Full Citation:

LaFree, Gary, and Laura Dugan. "Global Trends in Terrorism, 1970- 2011." In Peace and Conflict 2014, eds. Paul K. Huth, Jonathan Wilkenfeld, and David A. Backer. New York: Routledge.  https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781315284361/chapters/10.4324%2F9781315284378-8

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