Terrorism Index Makes Headlines

The Global Terrorism Index, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, is the first data driven research to dominate mainstream media and to provide a fact-based understanding of terrorism and its causes. 

The Index was launched on the 18th of November with an event at the Houses of Parliament in London. On the day of launch, the Global Terrorism Index featured prominently on the homepages of The Guardian, BBC,  Sky News, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. What’s more, the research was also highlighted in the New York Times’ top 20 most popular articles of the day, and was analysed by world leading journalist and author Fareed Zakaria on the CNN Global Public Square.

The quality and quantity of media coverage the Terrorism Index received is a significant win for the Institute for Economics and Peace (the brains behind Vision of Humanity) as the research aims not only to inform smarter strategies for tackling terrorism, but also to shift the global conversation around to terrorism to a more informed and fact-based discussion.

Taking stock of all the coverage, we can see four key areas journalists chose to focus on. These themes have been highlighted with examples of excellent reporting and coverage.

Trends in terrorism

Many news outlets focused first and foremost on the terrorism trends identified by the Terrorism Index. A large proportion of the articles such as those from the BBC, Huffington Post, and The New York Times all flagged the discovery that deaths from terrorist attacks have recently risen sharply, up 61% in 2013 from 2012. Although the fact that deaths from terrorism have increased fivefold since 2000 was heavily reported, the media were also quick to note that many of these deaths occur in only five particular countries, being: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria see more on terrorism in these five countries). The Huffington Post also noted that despite having experienced both the 9/11 and Boston Marathon Bombing attacks in the period covered by the report, North America remained the region least effected by terrorism. 

How terrorist groups end

The second finding highlighted by the media related to the ways in which terrorist groups end. Contrary to popular opinion, military intervention has rarely been successful in curtailing terrorist activity. As the Atlantic Monthly noted, in the last forty years armed operations only brought about the end of a terrorist group 7% of the time. Deutsche Welle provided a particularly in-depth commentary on this discovery, reminding audiences that approximately 80% of the time, terrorist organisations end when they are able to come to some sort of an agreement – that is, when they are incorporated into a society’s political process where their grievances can be addressed formally without the need to resort to violence.

Counter terrorism strategies

These reports also addressed the controversies surrounding contemporary counter terrorism strategies. The Otago Daily Times noted that in light of the Global Terrorism Index findings about how terrorist groups can be stopped, the common western reactions that focus on military intervention are likely doing nothing but increasing violence. The Huffington Post relayed that since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, terrorism has dramatically increased, and noted that the Founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace Steve Killelea suggested foreign powers should ‘think twice’ before engaging in an armed intervention. Similarly, Forbes applied these findings to Russia in particular, noting that the country’s armed responses to tension in the North Caucus are likely only to be inflaming the potential for terrorist attacks and violence in the area.

The main terrorist groups

Last of all, many news outlets focused in on the finding that the majority of terrorist attacks are carried out by only four groups: Al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, ISIL, and the Taliban. Deutsche Welle in particular drew attention to the links of these groups to Islamic Fundamentalism, and religiously inspired violence in general. However, the BBC qualified these realizations by pointing out the GTI has identified three main societal factors that correlate with high rates of terrorism – and none of these have anything to do with Islam. Instead, as the Atlantic also reported, influences such as hostilities between different communities, the presence of state sponsored violence, human rights abuses, and high levels of violent crime, are much more likely to foster environments where terrorism can flourish.

There are thousands of other excellent news articles featuring the Global Terrorism Index; the above represents a selection of articles that represent the main topics covered. For more on the Global Terrorism Index, check out the interactive map, download the report and see a selection of highlights.




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