Photographer: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg

Terror Attacks Are at 11-Year High in Wealthy Nations

  • Institute for Economics and Peace releases report on terrorism
  • No correlations seen with immigrants’ share of population

The world’s wealthiest nations experienced the worst year in over a decade for terrorist attacks and deaths in 2015.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries suffered 731 attacks, a 23 percent increase from its previous high in 2004 after a steady rise over the past six years, according a new report by the Institute for Economics and Peace, which has been collecting data since 1997. Meanwhile Iraq, Nigeria, and Pakistan -- which account for a third of total incidents worldwide -- each declined by more than 20 percent.

The divergence reflects both the success of developing nations’ sustained military campaigns against the Islamic State and Boko Haram as well as high-income countries’ failure to address the long-term socio-economic factors that inspire far-right wing and Islamic fundamentalist attackers, said Daniel Hyslop, research director at IEP.

IEP’s comparison of its Global Terrorism Index, a ranking of 163 countries that are most directly impacted by terrorism, to 28 variables including political instability, education, unemployment and free flow of information, found that developing and developed nations each have different statistical factors associated with terrorist activity.

Rare Phenomenon

The level of terrorism in non-OECD countries is closely correlated with on-going conflicts and relations with neighboring countries. OECD countries showed positive correlation with level of negative attitudes toward immigration and ease of access to weapons, and an inverse relationship with youth unemployment, free flow of information, and low faith in democracy, according to the report.

In low-income countries, those correlates showed no association with the level of terrorism. For both wealthy and poor nations, the share of immigrants or net migration as a percentage of the total population had no bearing on terrorism, Hysop said.

“Terrorism is still incredibly rare as a phenomenon and other forms of violence, like homicide, are far more prevalent as cause of deaths,” he added. “But that doesn’t mean terrorism hasn’t spread.”

“It’s intensified, and that’s reflected in the changing tactics, by ISIL or those inspired by ISIL in particular, as majority of attacks in OECD countries are carried out by them,” he said.

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