The number of people killed by terrorists worldwide in 2013 rose by 60 percent compared to the previous year – from 11,133 to 17,958 – with four Sunni Muslim extremist groups responsible for two-thirds of all fatalities, according to a comprehensive annual study.
Eighty-two percent of fatalities occurred in just five countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria, although the number of countries that experienced more than 50 terror-related deaths also rose – to 24, compared with 15 the previous year.
Among the many findings in the new Global Terrorism Index, a project of the nonprofit Institute for Economics and Peace, is one that calls into question claims that poverty is a key driver of terrorism.
“One of the most important findings in this report is that there is not a strong statistical link between poverty and terrorism,” it says. “Many people who join terrorist groups in wealthy countries are well educated and come from middle class families.”
“Other measures which didn’t correlate include life expectancy, mean years of schooling and economic factors such as GDP growth.”
Socio-economic, governance and attitudinal variables that showed the most significant correlation with terrorism were political stability, intergroup cohesion and legitimacy of the state.
The report also found that “religion” as a driving ideology for terrorism has jumped significantly in the last five years, and accounts for most of the terror activity in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
As a driver for terrorist groups, religion far outstrips “politics,” which tends to dominate attacks in the Western Hemisphere and is responsible for about half of them in Europe; and “national separatist” ideology, which accounts for the vast majority of attacks in Russia and former Soviet Union areas, and about half of attacks in Europe and about one-third in the Asia-Pacific...