The number of worldwide terrorist attacks has more than quadrupled in the decade since 9/11, according to a newly-released study.
The Global Terrorism Index, published by the Australia-based non-profit Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), ranks 158 nations according to the impact of terrorism in each. The study counted number of attacks, deaths, injuries and the level of property damage in each country.
Covering the years 2002 to 2011, the study found that terrorist attacks increased from 982 in the year following 9/11 to 4,564 last year. Worldwide fatalities resulting from terrorist attacks increased from 3,823 in 2002 to a high of 10,009 in 2007, the height of the Iraq war, before falling to 7,473 in 2011.
Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the three countries which have been most impacted by terrorism in 2011, with 2,502 combined incidents reported in those nations. In 2002, they ranked 28th, 11th and 15th respectively, with 76 combined terrorist incidents. All three countries were subjected to US military intervention in the post-9/11 War on Terror, which had a horrific impact on all three nations.
In fact, five of the top six nations most affected by terrorism have been attacked by the United States during the War on Terror. India, Yemen and Somalia round out the top six, and of those nations, only powerful India has been spared US military intervention.
"After 9/11, terrorist activity fell back to pre-2000 levels until after the Iraq invasion, and has since escalated dramatically," IEP founder Steve Killelea said. "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."
The increase in terror attacks in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan coincided with the escalation of the US-led War on Terror that saw the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and an anti-terrorism campaign in Pakistan that involves that country's military forces as well as an ongoing US drone war against Islamic militants.
The study found that the regions most affected by terrorism in 2011 were the Middle East, India-Pakistan and Russia. The countries of Syria and Yemen saw the most deterioration in their terrorism situations in 2011.
Over the past decade, only 31 of the 158 nations in the study experienced no terrorist attacks. Notable nations on this lucky list include New Zealand, Belgium, Finland, Japan, South Africa, North Korea, Croatia, Romania, Cuba, Brazil, Taiwan, Poland, South Korea, Vietnam and Ghana. With very few exceptions, these nations abstain from foreign military interventions.
Tellingly, despite leading the War on Terror and despite the heightened sense of public anxiety about terrorism, the United States is located in the region that suffers the least from terrorism. The US ranked 41st on the index for 2011, and Western Europeans were 19 times more likely to die in a terrorist attack than were North Americans last year.
According to the US National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), of the 13,288 people killed by terrorism in all countries last year, only 17-- or .001 percent-- were private US citizens. Americans are just as likely to be killed by their own furniture falling on them as they are by terrorists.
The IEP study has one glaring omission, and that is state-sponsored terrorism committed by nations that typically portray themselves as victims of terror. For example, US drone attacks have killed hundreds of innocent civilians and terrorized the people of Pakistan, who live in constant fear as the unmanned aircraft buzz constantly overhead. Israel has also been accused of state terrorism for its conduct in its ongoing struggle against Arab militants resisting Zionist occupation in Palestine, although the Jewish state ranks among the top tier of nations most affected by terrorist attacks over the past five decades. Other nations, including but not limited to Syria, Iran, Russia, China, Colombia, Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda have been accused of sponsoring or committing terrorism.
The IEP study has stimulated conversation about the efficacy of the War on Terror. Critics point to the failed War on Drugs as an instructive parallel with the current crusade to eliminate terrorism and argue that it is an exercise in futility to take a militaristic and punitive approach to a complex social, economic and political problem.