Saturday 18 Aug 2018 | 06:35 | SYDNEY
Saturday 18 Aug 2018 | 06:35 | SYDNEY

Terrorism-related fatalities drop dramatically


Fergus Hanson


22 May 2008 17:30

The newly released Human Security Brief 2007 challenges the accepted wisdom that the threat of terrorism and incidence of terrorist attacks is increasing. It makes the plausible case that attacks in Iraq should be excluded from terrorist attack tallies as similar attacks on civilians by non-state groups in other conflicts, particularly in Africa (think of the thousands killed in Sudan), are also largely excluded. When Iraq is excluded, instead of showing an increased number of terrorist-related fatalities, two datasets actually ‘show net declines of more than 40 percent in fatalities from terrorism since 2001’.

Even when attacks in Iraq are included, data for 2007 suggests a dramatic decline in fatalities from terrorism, with one set of figures showing a 47 percent decline globally. A second report from the US think tank Intelcenter that looked at al Qaeda and its affiliates’ 63 ‘most significant’ attacks found that by mid-2007, terrorist attacks had declined by 65 per cent from their high point in 2004. Fatalities from these attacks were down 90 per cent.

But why does the decline in the number of terrorism-related fatalities suggest a diminution of the terrorist threat? The authors think the answer lies behind three developments: effective counter-terrorism efforts that are preventing attacks, doctrinal infighting amongst terrorist groups which suggests ‘incipient breakdown’, and a sharp drop in support from the Muslim world for terrorist groups whose main targets are Muslims. It's early days yet, but these are some positive signs modern day terrorists may be on the way out.