The number of people killed in terrorist attacks jumped more than 60 percent from 2012 to 2013, due largely to unrest in the Middle East and Nigeria, a report released Tuesday found.
Deaths due to terrorism rose from 11,133 in 2012 to 17,958 in 2013, according to the Global Terrorism Index produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a think tank based in Australia.
More than 80 percent of those deaths occurred in just five countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.
In the same period, terrorist attacks rose more than 40 percent, from 6,825 incidents in 2012 to 9,814 in 2013.
"Since we first launched the GTI in 2012, we've seen a significant and worrying increase in worldwide incidences of terrorism," said IEP founder Steve Killelea in a news release.
"Over the last decade the increase in terrorism has been linked to radical Islamic groups whose violent theologies have been broadly taught. To counteract these influences, moderate forms of Sunni theologies need to be championed by Sunni Muslim nations," he said.
The three main factors associated with terrorism, according to the report, are state-sponsored violence such as extra-judicial killings, group grievances and high levels of criminality.
"There is no doubt it is a growing problem. The causes are complex but the four groups responsible for most of the deaths all have their roots in fundamentalist Islam," Killelea told Reuters.
"They are particularly angry about the spread of Western education. That makes any attempt at the kind of social mobilizing you need to stop them particularly difficult - it can just antagonize them more," he said.
The report found that five times more people are killed in terrorist attacks today than in 2000.
An indication that trend may continue: the report was released shortly after Islamic State militants announced they had beheaded American aid worker Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig in Syria. And on Tuesday, the Taliban detonated a car bomb in Kabul that killed at least two people and a Palestinian attack on a Jerusalem synagogue killed four rabbis.
Terror attacks in context
Although terrorism is on the increase and a major concern compared to other forms of violence, the report tried to place such attacks in context.
For example, 437,000 people died in homicides in 2012, while 11,000 deaths were attributed to terror-related acts. Terrorism may claim fewer lives, the report said, but its effect on a community can be much more traumatic, creating fear and producing substantial economic costs.
Other findings in the Global Terrorism Index:
- Religious ideology is the predominant motivation for terrorism in Sub-Saharan and North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. In the rest of the world, terrorism is more likely to be driven by political or nationalistic and separatist movements.
- Four groups - the Islamic State group, formerly known as ISIS or ISIL, Boko Haram, al-Qaida and the Taliban - were blamed for 66 percent of all fatalities.
- Explosives were used in 60 percent of terrorist attacks, while suicide bombings accounted for less than 5 percent of the attacks.
- Iraq is No. 1 among the top 10 countries that had the highest levels of terrorist activity in 2013. The rest, in order, are: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Syria, India, Somalia, Yemen, Philippines and Thailand.
- In 2013, Iraq saw 2,492 terrorist attacks, in which 6,362 people were killed.
The Global Terrorism Index ranks 162 countries by the impact of terrorist activities as well as analyzing the economic and social dimensions associated with terrorism. The index examines trends from 2000 to 2013.