While attacks in Istanbul, Dhaka and Nice make it look like terrorism is a near weekly occurrence, the number of terrorist attacks and the number of people killed by acts of terrorism worldwide declined last year for the first time since 2012, according to the U.S. government.
Figures compiled for the State Department show there were almost 11,800 terrorist attacks around the world in 2015 — 13% less than the previous year. And while those attacks killed more than 28,300 people, including suicide attackers, that represents a 14% drop in the number of terrorist-related deaths compared with 2014.
“The international community made important progress in degrading terrorist safe havens — in particular, a sizeable reduction in the amount of territory held by the Islamic State [of Iraq and Greater Syria], or ISIL, in Iraq and Syria, as well as the finances and foreign terrorist fighters available to it,” acting coordinator for counterterrorism Justin Siberell told a briefing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
“At the same time, however, instability in key regions of the world, along with weak or nonexistent governance, sectarian conflict, and porous borders continue to provide terrorist groups like [ISIS] the opportunity to extend their reach, terrorize civilians, and attract and mobilize new recruits.”
The majority of terrorist attacks were concentrated in just five countries — Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Nigeria and Pakistan. And 74% of all deaths due to terrorism took place in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan or Syria, according to the research, which was conducted by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland.
ISIS was responsible for a total of 931 attacks, excluding those perpetrated by the group’s branches in Egypt, Libya and West Africa, the report says. (The Taliban launched 1,093 attacks, but killed fewer than ISIS.)