While Nigeria’s rank in the latest Global Terrorism Index, for 2016, rose from the fourth in 2014 to the third in the world, the global terror level dropped drastically largely due to improvements across the world and Nigeria’s new position after sacking former president Goodluck Jonathan who folded his arms and allowed suspicious political elements sponsors terror in the nation’s north.
While none of the terror sponsors have been arrested, the sack of Jonathan has successfully reversed the trend, and a pre-election military campaign launched by the former president when he saw his end near, that recaptured most Boko Haram occupied lands has continued to yield results under the new administration.
Daniel Hyslop, Research Director at the Institute for Economics and Peace, talks to DW about global changes in terrorism-related deaths.
DW: What was unique about this year’s study?
Daniel Hyslop: The main report finding that was unique was the fact that the number of terrorist deaths actually decreased by 22 percent globally in 2016 compared to the peak of 2014. So it’s a positive story.
Four of the five countries that are most impacted by terrorist activity have actually seen a notable decrease in the number of deaths that they’ve experienced. That’s really a turning point in the fight against terrorism.
Which countries have seen a significant decrease in terms of terror deaths and which ones a significant increase?
Thecountry that saw the largest decreases was Nigeria, largely because of the Multinational Joint Task Force — the coalition of countries that are fighting Boko Haram — which led to an 80 percent decrease in the number of deaths that the groups committed. Maybe about 3,000 fewer people were killed last year from the group’s actions.
The other thing is Boko Haram split into three groups and it’s no longer the coherent group that it was a couple of years ago. It’s a big improvement in Nigeria and a big part of the story.
There has also been an improvement in Yemen and Afghanistan, as well as Syria and Niger, which is connected to the improvement in Nigeria. The improvement in Yemen is really because of the sporadic peace talks that have occurred. There has been less use of terror tactics by Houthi rebels. Afghanistan has seen sort of a perverse trend where the number of conventional battle deaths by the Taliban, the most deadly group in Afghanistan, has actually increased. But the use of terror tactics has actually decreased, so there’s a different trend going on there.
In Syria, we have seen a decrease in the level of terrorism fromIS. The worst groups really tried to hold on to territory in the country and spent all of its resources on conventional battlefield situations.
Your numbers show that terrorism deaths are down by 22 percent compared to 2014. But we see terrorist attacks in the news every day. How do you explain that?
In Europe, I think one of the concerning trends is that in 2016 we saw the highest number of terrorist deaths in the OECD member countries, which include most of Europe, the US, Australia and Canada. And that number was the highest number since 1988. I think that’s largely the reason why at least in Europe we have the perception of there being perhaps more terrorism than before. Read full