Terrorism on the rise in South Africa

South Africa is one of the top 50 nations for terrorist activity, according to the latest Global Terrorism Index (GTI) released by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

South Africa ranks 48th, tied with Malaysia, in the index, which tracks and measures incidences of terrorism over time and analyses its changing patterns in terms of geographic activity, methods of attack, organisations involved and the national economic and political context.

In 2010, SA ranked 104th out of 162 countries, with a GTI score of 0.15, slipping down to 109th in 2011, and 61st in 2012, with a GTI score of 2.25.

The report noted three incidents of terrorism, with four fatalities, and three injuries in SA in 2012.

In 2013, the report pointed to a GTI score of 3.04 due to 12 incidents of terrorism in SA, causing two fatalities, five injuries and involving five properties.

The country with the most terrorist activity is Iraq, which saw 6,362 people killed and 14,947 injured in 2,492 terrorist incidents in 2013.

Iraq was also the country with the biggest increase in deaths, with nearly 4,000 more fatalities from terrorism in 2013 than 2012.

Increase in terrorist deaths
Increase in terrorism deaths

“Terrorist incidents have increased significantly in Iraq in 2013 with the number of deaths rising 162% from 2012. No group claimed responsibility for the majority of terrorist activity. However, six terrorist groups were responsible for the 1,670 claimed deaths,” the IEP said.

While Iraq had the most terrorist activity, Nigeria and Syria were found to have some of the most lethal single terrorist attacks.

Nigeria’s Boko Haram claimed 142 lives when gunmen, dressed in military uniforms, shot civilians at illegal checkpoints in September 2013.

The Al Nusrah Front attacked civilians and soldiers in the town of Khan al-assal in July of the same year, claiming 123 lives.

Top 20 terrorist countries

# Country Index score
1 Iraq 10.00
2 Afghanistan 9.39
3 Pakistan 9.37
4 Nigeria 8.58
5 Syria 8.12
6 India 7.86
7 Somalia 7.41
8 Yemen 7.31
9 Philippines 7.29
10 Thailand 7.19
11 Russia 6.76
12 Kenya 6.58
13 Egypt 6.50
14 Lebanon 6.40
15 Libya 6.25
16 Colombia 6.24
17 Turkey 5.98
18 DRC 5.90
19 Sudan 5.77
20 South Sudan 5.60

Thee GTI is based on data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), which is collected and collated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

Terrorist activity is tracked from 2000.

The GTD is considered to be the most comprehensive dataset on terrorist activity globally and has codified over 125,000 terrorist incidents.

According to the index, in 2013, terrorist activity increased substantially with the total number of deaths rising from 11,133 in 2012 to 17,958 in 2013 – a 61% increase.

Over the same period, the number of countries that experienced more than 50 deaths rose from 15 to 24.

“This highlights that not only is the intensity of terrorism increasing, its breadth is increasing as well. Terrorism is both highly concentrated as well as a globally distributed phenomenon,” the report said.

Notably, over 80% of lives lost to terrorist activity in 2013 occurred in only five countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.

“However, another 55 countries recorded one or more deaths from terrorist activity,” the IEP said.

According to the IEP report:

  • 102 of 162 countries covered in this study experienced no deaths from terrorism in 2013, while 60 countries recorded one or more deaths from terrorism.
  • 87 countries experienced a terrorist incident in 2013, slightly up from 81 in 2012.
  • Around five per cent of all the 107,000 terrorist fatalities since 2000 have occurred in OECD countries.
  • Homicide claims 40 times more people globally than terrorism with 437,000 lives lost due to homicide in 2012, compared to 11,000 terrorist deaths in 2012.
  • Approximately 50% of terrorist attacks claim no lives.
  • The long term indirect costs of terrorism can be 10 to 20 times larger than the direct costs.

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Terrorism on the rise in South Africa