Terror Attacks Worldwide Dropped in 2017, Though Fatalities Rose in United States

Terrorist attacks and deaths declined in 2017 for the third year in a row, though violence “remains extraordinarily high compared to historical trends,” according to an assessment from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland.

There were 10,900 terrorist attacks around the world last year accounting for all ideological goals, resulting in 26,400 deaths at the hands of 8,075 perpetrators. The year that the Islamic State declared its caliphate, 2014, was the deadliest with nearly 17,000 attacks and more than 45,000 fatalities, including in the seizure of Mosul and the massacre of Yazidis at Sinjar.

Despite the decreases since that bloody year, each the 10 years before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks saw less than a third of the terrorist incidents recorded last year.

Researchers found that “terrorist violence remained heavily concentrated in certain locations and coincided with other types of political violence,” with more than half of attacks occurring in Iraq, Afghanistan, India or Pakistan. Attacks in North America accounted for just 1 percent of global terrorism, though the 97 attacks represented a 29 percent hike from the previous year. Similarly, the 124 deaths in North America in 2017 didn’t account for even 1 percent of worldwide fatalities, but that was a 70 percent increase from 2016.

Meanwhile, attacks were down 38 percent and terrorism deaths decreased 44 percent in the Middle East and North Africa.

The region safest from terrorism was Central American and Caribbean, with four attacks and four terrorism deaths in 2017.

Turkey, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Libya experienced sharp decreases in the number of terror attacks and deaths, while sharp spikes in activity were seen in Kenya and Burma. Terrorist attacks increased 474 percent in Nepal last year, though these rarely took lives.

While the number of attacks in the United States was largely unchanged — 65 attacks in 2017, and 64 attacks in 2016 — there was a 49 percent increase in deaths at 91. These attacks include the mass shooting at a Las Vegas concert — ISIS claimed shooter Stephen Paddock, but officials were never able to substantiate the claim; researchers attributed his motivation to anti-government extremism — and an ISIS follower driving a rented truck onto a Manhattan bike path.

ISIS remained the most active and lethal terrorist group, though their attacks decreased by 10 percent year-over-year and fatalities dropped by 40 percent. The Taliban were second, followed by Al-Shabaab.

Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a weekly columnist for the New York Observer and a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and Washington Bureau Chief for PJ Media. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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