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Terrorism Against Transportation in Belgium, Western Europe Not New, Study Finds

More than 140 terrorist attacks took place in Belgium between 1970 and 2014, causing more than 40 deaths and 230 injuries, while more than 7,400 terrorist attacks worldwide between 1970 and 2014 targeted some form of transportation, including airports and aircraft, representing 5.3 percent of all attacks.

That’s according to a new analysis of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism’s (START) Global Terrorism Database (GTD).

In the aftermath of the March 22, 2016 attacks in Brussels, Belgium, START compiled statistics from its GTD which shows that:

  • More than 7,400 terrorist attacks worldwide between 1970 and 2014 targeted some form of transportation, including airports and aircraft, representing 5.3 percent of all attacks;
  • More than 460 targets of terrorist attacks between 1970 and 2014 were airports, representing 6.4 percent of all transportation targets;
  • More than 130 targets of terrorist attacks between 1970 and 2014 were subway systems, representing 1.9 percent of all attacks on transportation targets;
  • Recently, attacks on transportation targets have been somewhat less prevalent. More than 1,400 such attacks took place between 2010 and 2014, comprising 3.0 percent of all attacks;
  • More than 10,000 terrorist attacks worldwide between 2000 and 2014 (14 percent) were conducted in coordination with other attacks;
  • ISIS under its current incarnation, carried out more than 750 coordinated attacks in 2013 and 2014;
  • More than 1,600 terrorist attacks were committed by ISIS in 2013 and 2014;
  • More than 41,000 terrorist attacks between 2000 and 2014 (58 percent) involved the use of explosives; and
  • More than 3,600 terrorist attacks between 2000 and 2014 (5.1 percent) were suicide attacks.

According to START’s study, “patterns of terrorism in Belgium generally reflected trends in Western Europe, where terrorist attacks were frequently non-lethal [and] took place primarily in the 1970s and 1980s and have declined since the early 1990s.”

“The majority of these attacks (68 percent) and deaths (68 percent) took place during the 1970s and 1980s,” and, “More than three-quarters (82 percent) of the terrorist attacks in Belgium were non-lethal,” which is a number “slightly higher than the percentage of non-lethal attacks in Western Europe more broadly (75 percent).”

Historically, the START study showed, “the most active perpetrator group in Belgium was the Communist Combatant Cells (CCC), which was responsible for 24 percent of the attacks in Belgium during this time period, despite the fact that they were primarily active in 1984 and 1985.”

Surprisingly, the START analysis revealed that worldwide between 1970 and 2014, “attacks on transportation targets have been somewhat less prevalent, comprising 3.0 percent of all attacks and 5.5 percent of attacks against civilian targets between 2010 and 2014.”

The study also found that, “The tactic of targeting of transportation infrastructure was not used uniformly around the world,” and that “among countries that experienced at least 50 terrorist attacks against civilian targets between 1970 and 2014, the highest proportion of attacks against transportation targets took place in China (52.1 percent),” and that the lowest number of attacks was in the Central African Republic (1.1 percent).

The START analysis also revealed that, in Belgium, attacks against transportation targets comprised 16.3 percent of all attacks between 1970 and 2014, and that terrorist attacks against transportation targets were slightly less likely to be carried out by suicide attackers (2 .0 percent of attacks), compared to attacksagainst other types of targets (2.7 percent).

In addition, the START analysis showed that, “Terrorist attacks against transportation targets worldwide were slightly more likely to be part of coordinated, multi -part attacks (13.5 percent of attacks), compared to attacks against other types of targets (12.5 percent).”

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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