The US State Department has reported a marked increase in terror attacks worldwide from 2013 to 2014. The number of attacks perpetrated rose by 35 percent, with the number of fatalities resulting from terror rising 81 percent.
According to State Department findings, released Friday, there were 13,463 terror attacks resulting in 32,700 deaths. Another 9,400-plus people were kidnapped or held hostage by terrorists, a threefold increase from the year before.
Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism Tina S. Kaidanow spoke at a special press briefing about the Country Report on Terrorism 2014. She said Washington attributed the increase “largely…to activity in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.
“More than 60 percent of all attacks took place in five countries: Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Nigeria, and 78 percent of all fatalities due to terrorist attacks also took place in five countries: Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria,” she added.
“The increase in total fatalities was, in part, a result of certain attacks that were exceptionally lethal – in 2014, there were 20 attacks that killed more than 100 people, compared to two such attacks in 2013.”
The report noted a variety of worrying trends. While long-time scourge al-Qaeda has been weakened, other groups, such as the Islamic State (ISIS) have risen to power and influence in its stead.
They have attracted “tens of thousands” of foreign nationals to the failed states where they operate with the goal of learning terror tactics. This includes some 16,000 who arrived in Syria to join terror groups, making Syria the heart of worldwide terror exportation. While the international coalition has dealt significant blows to ISIS, it has not succeeded in wresting territory from the group.
While the report labels ISIS unique in its use of media as a terror tool, it draws similarities between it and Boko Haram, including “a penchant for the use of brutal tactics, which include stonings, indiscriminate mass casualty attacks, and systematic oppression of women and girls, including enslavement, torture, and rape.”
So-called “lone wolf” attacks are becoming increasingly popular and dangerous, as “these attacks may presage a new era in which centralized leadership of a terrorist organization matters less, group identity is more fluid, and violent extremist narratives focus on a wider range of alleged grievances and enemies.”
Finally, the report acknowledges Iran, along with Syria, Cuba and Sudan, as state sponsors of terror. The Iranian government and Revolutionary Guards are behind “Lebanese Hizballah, several Iraqi Shia militant groups, Hamas, and Palestine Islamic Jihad.”
The State Department recommended capitalizing on international partnerships to halt the spread of terrorism, as well as apprehending foreign nationals bent on terror, whether before leaving or when returning to their home countries.