There has been a sharp increase in the number of terrorist attacks since September 2011, according to a study released Tuesday. However, the fatalities from the terror-related incidents have dropped 25 percent in recent years after reaching the peak in 2007.
According to the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), terrorist attacks had risen steadily from 2002 to 2007 and peaked between 2005 and 2007, coinciding with the Iraq war. The number of fatalities dropped to 7,473 in 2011, indicating a 25 percent fall from that reported in 2007. The Middle East, India, Pakistan and Russia were the regions and countries which were affected the most by terrorism in 2011.
The GTI, produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), ranks 158 countries on the impact of terrorism and analyses the associated economic and social dimensions based on the data from the Global Terrorism Database.
According to the report, the fatalities from terrorist attacks have increased by 195 percent since 9/11. The number of incidents has risen by 460 percent and that of injuries by 224 percent.
The top seven countries that have suffered the highest number fatalities due to terrorism in the decade account for nearly three quarters of deaths in this period, with Iraqis suffering the most.
Iraq ranks number one on the list despite a considerable fall in the number of terrorist incidents in the country after the end of the war in 2007.
"After 9/11, terrorist activity fell back to pre-2000 levels until after the Iraq invasion, and has since escalated dramatically," Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace, was quoted as saying by Reuters.
"Iraq accounts for about a third of all terrorist deaths over the last decade, and Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan account for over 50 percent of fatalities."
Pakistan ranks second on the list with 9.05 points, followed by Afghanistan with 8.67 points. India stands fourth with 8.15 points and Yemen ranks fifth. Somalia, Nigeria, Thailand, Russia and the Philippines appear in the fifth to 10th positions respectively.
"Terrorism is one of the most emotive subjects of our time. The impact of terrorism does seem to have plateaued over the last three years but is still unacceptably high. The aim of the GTI is to systematically analyze and quantify the phenomena" said Steve Killelea, executive chairman of IEP. "The GTI examines trends to help inform a positive and practical debate about the future of terrorism and appropriate policy responses."
Interestingly, the report says that North America is the least likely region to suffer from terrorism, with a fatality rate 19 times lower than that in Western Europe, in contrary to the perception that the country is the a major target of terrorist attacks. The U.S. has had the largest improvement on the GTI score from 2002-2011, falling from the first to 41st on the list.
Highlighting the correlation between terrorism and foreign military interventions, Killelea urged the policymakers to redefine tackling terrorism strategies based on the findings.
"The GTI highlights that many of the countries suffering the most from terrorism have also suffered from foreign military intervention. Although the 'responsibility to protect' is paramount, caution needs to be taken against unwanted consequences. I urge policymakers to use the findings of this report to help redefine tackling terrorism strategies and help shift focus towards peace," she said.
Another perception that poverty is the main cause of terrorism also has been challenged by the findings of the GTI.
“Low-income countries are less affected by terrorism than lower middle-income countries, indicating that poverty is not necessarily a main cause of terrorism. Private citizens and property are the most common targets of terrorism while the military is targeted in only 4% of attacks. The U.S., Algeria and Colombia had the biggest improvements over the last ten years,” the report said.
Of the 158 countries surveyed, only 31 have not experienced a single event classified as a "terrorist act" since 2001, the report says.
The index scores 158 countries over the last 10 years by aggregating a series of indicators that include the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities, injuries and damage.