Deaths from terrorism declined in 2017 for the third straight year, but far-right extremism was on the rise, according to a new report released Wednesday.
The 2018 Global Terrorism Index found that deaths resulting from terrorism decreased 27% worldwide last year. Ninety-six of the 163 countries tracked by the index saw an improvement; 46 had declines. Sixty-seven countries had at least one death from terrorism in 2017 – a drop from 2016’s record high rate of 79 countries, according to the report.
The report was produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace, a nonpartisan think tank that develops metrics to study peace and its economic impact. It defines terrorism as “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation” and pulls its data from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.
There was a sharp decrease (52%) in deaths from terrorist attacks attributed to ISIS. Syria and Iraq – where ISIS continues to lose territory – saw the most dramatic declines in numbers of deaths due to terrorism. Iraq saw 5,000 fewer deaths and Syria saw 1,000 fewer.
However, the two nations remain among the top 10 most affected by terrorism, along with Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan, Egypt, Congo, the Central African Republic and India. The report also found that ISIS was “still the deadliest terrorist group globally in 2017.”
Europe saw its deaths by terrorism drop by 75% in 2017, a number that Institute for Economics & Peace executive chairman Steve Killelea called “absolutely dramatic.”
“The marked improvements in Europe can be attributed to a number of reasons. ISIL has lost much of its attractiveness due to its military defeats and weakened capabilities to mount attacks in Europe. Increases in counter-terrorism funding, combined with better surveillance techniques, have also contributed to the steep reduction of deaths in Europe from terrorism,” he explained.
The estimated financial impact of terrorism in 2017 was $52 billion, but the report notes that its true economic impact “is likely to be much higher.”
‘Far-right terrorism is a growing concern’
The report found that far-right terrorism was on the rise in Western Europe and the United States, calling it “a growing concern.”
“In the four years between 2013 and 2017, there were 66 deaths and 127 attacks caused in Western Europe and North America by far-right groups and individuals,” the report stated.
The index identified 31 far-right extremist attacks and 17 deaths associated with them. These included the fatal stabbing of two people in Portland, Oregon, in May 2017 by a man shouting slurs at two African-American teenagers and the January 2017 Quebec mosque attack that left six dead.
“The majority of attacks were carried out by lone actors with far-right, white nationalist, or anti-Muslim beliefs,” the report found.
The reporting on the increase in far-right attacks echoes the jump in hate crime reports in the US and Canada. The FBI said in November that reported hate crimes had jumped 17% in 2017 from the year prior. Canada saw an almost 50% jump in hate crimes in 2017, according to a federal government report published last week.