Boko Haram has become the most deadly terrorist group in the world, killing more people in terrorist attacks in 2014 than ISIS, according to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index.
The GTI attributed more than 6,644 deaths to Boko Haram in 2014, with most attacks occurring in northeastern Nigeria. ISIS killed 6,073 in terrorist attacks in the same year, according to the report.
The GTI noted a 317 percent increase of terrorism deaths in Nigeria, the largest increase ever recorded by any country, where newly elected president Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to contain Boko Haram by the end of 2015.
Boko Haram has countered Buhari’s efforts by concentrating on suicide bomb attacks, according to reports, as opposed to the capture of entire villages, a tactic the group had used while Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan was in office.
Terrorism in Nigeria has increased not only at the hands of Boko Haram, but also because of a militant group of Fulani herdsmen, which the GTI blamed for 1,229 deaths in 2014. The herdsmen were blamed for 63 deaths in 2013, the GTI said.
While Boko Haram and ISIS have largely attacked Christians and other religious groups, the number of religious figures and worshippers killed in terrorism attacks decreased by 11 percent in 2014, according to the GTI. But the decrease in religious victims was offset by a 172 percent increase in the deaths of private citizens, the GTI indicates.
Unlike Boko Haram, ISIS does not limit its attacks to terrorism strikes, the index noted, because ISIS is also involved in the Syrian civil war. As such, ISIS engages in combat with forces loyal to Assad, the al-Nusra front, Kurdish forces and the international coalition against ISIS. The deaths attributed to ISIS in combat, at least 20,000, are not included in the terrorism count.
The GTI was released just as ISIS captured the world’s attention by killing at least 130 and injuring more than 300 others in a string of attacks in Paris Nov. 13, and claiming credit for a bomb that brought down a Russian jet Oct. 31 over Egypt, killing all 224 aboard. The U.S. State Department is considering declaring ISIS guilty of genocide in the group’s attacks on the Yazidi sect in Iraq.
Worldwide, the total number of deaths from terrorism increased by 80 percent in 2014 over the previous year, the GTI found, marking the largest annual increase in the last 15 years. Not only that, but deaths from terrorism have risen 900 percent in the 21st century, from 3,329 in 2000 to 32,658 in 2014, according to the index.
Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria were listed as the countries suffering the most attacks of terrorism in 2014, accounting for 78 percent of terrorism deaths, with the bulk occurring in Syria, Iraq and Nigeria. Still, terrorism is spreading to other countries, the report found, with the number of countries suffering more than 500 deaths increasing from five to 11. Somalia, Ukraine, Yemen, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Cameroon suffered more than 500 terrorism deaths for the first time, the report said.
The majority of terrorism deaths do not occur in the West, including the U.S., Canada, Australia and European countries, the report noted, and deaths from homicide far exceed those from terrorism. Excluding September 11, only 0.5 percent of all terrorism-related deaths have occurred in Western countries in the last 15 years. But at least 437,000 people in these countries are murdered each year, more than 13 times the number of terrorism victims.
The GTI relies heavily on the Global Terrorism Database, which the report describes as the most comprehensive dataset on terrorist activity globally.
Among the GTI’s other findings:
• Iraq and Syria continued to recruit fighters from foreign countries, totaling as many as 30,000 foreigners since 2011 and including 7,000 in the first six months of 2015;
• The major perpetrators of terrorism in the West are independent, lone-wolf attackers, accounting for 70 percent of such incidents;
• The economic cost of terrorism increased by 61 percent in 2014 over 2013, totaling $52.9 billion, a 1000 percent increase over 2000;
• The cost of containing global terrorism is $117 billion;
• Terrorism mostly occurs in countries involved in violent conflicts. These countries suffered 88 percent of all terrorist attacks in the last 25 years.
The 2014 report is the GTI’s third edition. The full report is available at http://economicsandpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Global-Terrorism-Index-2015.pdf.