Global terrorism is at the highest level it has ever been and continues to rise at an “unprecedented pace”, a report has found.
The Global Terrorism Index measures the scale and impact of terror attacks across the world, and found that the number of deaths from such incidents had dramatically risen since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The statistical analysis was carried out by The Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) prior to Friday’s attacks on Paris, but it nonetheless showed that the vast majority of deaths from terrorism occur in just five Muslim-majority countries - Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria.
It said a total of 32,658 people were killed by terrorists around the world in 2014 - an 80 per cent increase on the previous year.
The IEP said that since the start of the century, the number of people killed by terrorist attacks had increased nine-fold.
Presenting the IEP’s findings, executive chairman Steve Killelea said the spike in killings after 2003 highlights how “many of the countries suffering the most terrorism have also suffered from foreign military intervention”.
He said: “Although the ‘responsibility to protect’ is paramount, caution needs to be taken against unwanted consequences.
“I urge policymakers to use the findings of this report to help redefine tackling terrorism strategies and help shift focus towards peace.”
Of the 10 deadliest attacks recorded in 2014, half took place in Nigeria, of which all but one were perpetrated by the Boko Haram militant group.
The deadliest attack took place in the city of Badush in Iraq in June 2014, where Isis killed 670 people using explosives.
Isis carried out the two deadliest attacks last year, and Mr Killelea said the Paris attacks showed the group appeared to now be capable of launching “sophisticated and deadly attacks” in Europe.
The UK ranked 28th in the index - higher than the US, Iran and France, again prior to the Paris attacks.
And while the majority of the attacks recorded in the report were in Northern Ireland and involved the New IRA, Mr Killelea said Britain was hardly immune to a Paris-style incident.
“Terrorism is gaining momentum at an unprecedented pace,” he told the Press Association. “The Paris incident in many ways is a watershed within Europe.
“The UK certainly could be the victim of one of these types of attacks. We saw with al-Qaeda, its ability to be able to perform deadly attacks in London which brought the city to a standstill.
“However the UK, because of its border protection from being an island, makes it a lot harder for terrorists to get in.”
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