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Column: More terrorist acts, but more concentrated

While the total number of terrorist attacks around the world has been steadily rising, it is also an increasingly concentrated phenomenon. New data released 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 people, both record numbers, though some of this may be due to improvements in data collection.

"While terrorist attacks have in large part moved away from Western Europe and North America to Asia, the Middle East and Africa, worldwide terrorism is reaching new levels of destructiveness," said Gary LaFree, START director and professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Maryland.

The data also show 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 (in Somalia) and Boko Haram (in northern Nigeria and countries near it) 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 focuses on international news, social science and related topics. He was previously an editor at Foreign Policy magazine.

© 2013 Slate

Column: More terrorist acts, but more concentrated 12/20/13 [Last modified: Friday, December 20, 2013 4:04pm]
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