More Than Half of the World’s Terrorist Attacks Happen in Just Three Countries

How It Works
Dec. 19 2013 1:26 PM

More Than Half of the World’s Terrorist Attacks Happen in Just Three Countries

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Image from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START)at the University of Maryland.

While the total number of terrorist attacks around the world has been steadily rising, it is also an increasingly concentrated phenomenon. New data released today by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism based at the University of Maryland shows that just three countries for the year 2012—Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan—accounted for 54 percent of attacks and 58 percent of fatalities that year. India, Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, and Thailand were the next five most frequently targeted.

All in all, there were 8,400 terrorist attacks killing more than 15,400, both record numbers, though some of this may be due to improvements in data collection. (Full-size map here.) 

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The data also shows that the post-Osama bin Laden al-Qaida Central seems to be largely a spent force in the world, but al-Qaida offshoots continue to wreak havoc:

These include the Taliban (more than 2,500 fatalities), Boko Haram (more than 1,200 fatalities), al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (more than 960 fatalities), Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (more than 950 fatalities), al-Qaida in Iraq (more than 930 fatalities) and al-Shabaab (more than 700 fatalities).

I imagine the numbers for Shabaab and Boko Haram may have increased in 2013, but it’s still worth noting that terrorism is both increasingly common in general, yet still extremely rare for the vast majority of the world. 

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

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