0455 GMT March 02, 2021
The report, which was compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) and released on Wednesday, summarizes global trends in terrorism and ranks countries in order of those most affected in terms of both casualties and economic costs in 2019, ABC News reported.
Steve Killelea, executive chairman of IEP, said the latest report revealed some surprising but positive news, including a 15 percent drop in terrorism globally last year and a 59 percent decrease since 2014.
This was partly due to the collapse of Daesh territories and the subsequent de-escalation of conflict in the Middle East.
"More countries have improved this year than [in any other year] since the inception of the index — 103 countries improved compared to only 35 which deteriorated," Killelea told the ABC.
"That's really good news."
"But still, we understand about 13,800 people died in terrorist attacks in 2019 so, although it seems to be declining at the moment, it's still a serious issue."
The global economic impact of terrorism also fell by 25 percent in 2019 to $16.4 billion.
The highest-ranked countries in 163 nations listed in order of those most affected by terrorism were Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.
Since the inception of the GTI in 2012, the top 10 countries have always been developing nations and almost always nations suffering internal conflicts.
"Less than one percent of all deaths through terrorism happen in advanced Western economies," Killelea said.
Thomas Morgan, senior research fellow at IEP, said there was often a "misconception" that terrorism predominantly occurred in Western nations.
"There is a misconception based in the coverage levels in the media … but also because 96 percent of terrorism occurred in the context of an ongoing conflict," he said.
He said because they happened in the context of war, they received less attention than attacks elsewhere.
Morgan feared the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic could have an impact on both the level and the types of terrorism that would happen in the coming years.
"Between 2011 and 2019, riots and violent demonstrations in the West increased by 277 percent," he said.
"There are serious concerns that the deteriorating economic conditions will lead to more people becoming alienated and susceptible to extremist propaganda."
Of all Western nations, the United States ranked the highest at number 29, with 53 attacks and 39 deaths last year.
But those figures revealed a new trend developing in terrorism. Of those deaths, 34 were attributed to far-right extremists.
Killelea said far-right groups, including ultra-nationalists and white supremacists, were responsible for a total of 89 deaths in 2019.
"Admittedly it's only low numbers, but we have a 250 percent increase in attacks by the far-right in the last five years," he said.
But 51 of those deaths occurred in a single incident when a gunman opened fire in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The report said over the past 50 years, there had been 13 far-right terrorist attacks that had each killed more than 10 people.
But as attacks by Daesh continue to decline, the balance is slowly shifting.
Keeping the downward curve
Killelea said the main factors that had contributed to the decrease in terrorism were the territorial defeat of Daesh and the easing of conflicts within Syria and Iraq.
In fact, the Middle East region recorded its lowest number of deaths since 2003.
But Daesh is far from gone. The group and its affiliates still claimed responsibility for attacks in 27 countries last year.
"They are a long way from a spent force," Killelea said, adding a shift in the group’s "center of gravity" into sub-Saharan Africa caused a spike in terrorism deaths in seven nations.
Mr Killelea said because 96 percent of all deaths from terrorism occur in war zones, "we need to reduce the number of conflicts around the globe" if we want to maintain this downwards trend.
Elsewhere, he said "reducing the influence" of terrorist organizations was the key.
"To break these influences, three major initiatives are needed — to break their media coverage and online social networks, disrupt their funding and lessen the number of sympathizers," he said.
"These three things play off each other, so any effective government policy would need to address all three."