The Center for Economics and Peace recently released its annual Global Terrorism Index, which found that terrorism in on the decline globally, but is experiencing a surge in some African countries, such as Somalia, Nigeria, and Egypt.
Notable terrorism hot spots like Syria and Iraq saw a significant decrease in terrorist activity, which the report attributes to ISIS’ loss of “most of its territory and sources of revenue” in those regions. As a result, however, the organization is diverting its resources to North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia.
Despite a 52 percent drop in ISIS-connected attacks, the terrorist organization remained “the deadliest terrorist group globally in 2017,” according to numbers from the Global Terrorism Database. The Center for Economics and Peace based its report on figures spanning from 1998 to 2017, which is the most current year with comprehensive data available.
Overall, the report found that terrorism-related deaths fell for a third consecutive year, in no small part because of ISIS’ defeat in Iraq and Syria, which saw drops in terrorism-related deaths of 5,000 and 1,000, respectively.
But African regions are seeing a “resurgence of terrorist activity,” partly because of Al-Qa’ida’s return in the area. Somalia, for instance, saw the second-largest increase in deaths caused by terrorism at an increase of 93 percent (708 more deaths) between 2016 and 2017, and was home to the single largest terrorist attack in 2017 when Al-Shabaab slaughtered 587 people. According to the report, Somalia was the only country that “saw a significant increase” in terrorism.
As a result, Somalia has moved up a spot on the Global Terrorism Index, and now ranks sixth globally for terrorist-related activity, listed behind Pakistan, Syria, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Recent reports indicate that Somalia may continue to climb up the list as a November attack left a prominent cleric and at least 20 civilians dead.
The Center for Economics and Peace explains that increased terrorist activity is generally a result of conflict, which the report calls the “primary driver of terrorism in most countries throughout the world.” Al-Shabaab’s prominence in the country and its “Islamist statehood aspirations” combined with the “fragility of Somalia’s political and security institutions” is paving the way for conflict in the country.
In 2017, Al-Shabaab surpassed Boko Haram as the deadliest terror group in sub-Sarahan Africa, and is being fought against by an African peacekeeping force called AMISOM with the help of the UN and the U.S., the report notes.
On a global scale, the report found that terrorist activity peaked in 2014, and dropped at a rate of 27 percent between 2016 and 2017.
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