Terrorism in Perspective

One of the goals of the Global Terrorism Index is to provide a sober and fact based assessment of the state of terrorism. In doing so, we aim to bring the facts to the forefront of public discourse so that we might have a more informed debate about the state of terrorism and appropriate counter terrorism strategies.

While terrorism features heavily in public discourse, there is far less attention paid to other violent threats. Approximately 40 times more people are killed in homicides than in terrorist attacks worldwide. 

In 2012 11,000 people were killed in terrorist attacks. In the same year, 437,000 people were killed in homicides.

Another little known statistic about terrorism is that approximately 50% of terrorist attacks result in no fatalities.

The number of people killed in terrorist attacks is also highly concentrated, with Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria accounting for more than 82% of terrorist fatalities last year (for more on these five countries, see Where Terrorism Happens). Similarly, only 5% of all 107,000 terrorist fatalities since the year 2000 have occurred in OECD countries.

There is also convincing evidence that terrorism is most prevalent in areas with existing tensions and violence. Over 70% of terrorist attacks have only occurred within a country already experiencing a period of major conflict.

For more about the causes of terrorism, an analysis of where terrorism is happening and which groups are responsible, download the 2014 Global Terrorism Index report

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