Global Terrorism Index: Belarus in the group with North Korea and Turkmenistan, Ukraine is with Russia

The latest Global Terrorism Index, an annual ranking of 163 countries indicating the level of the current terrorist threat in each of them is now available online. Russia and Ukraine are at the top of the list, while Belarus is among the safest countries in the world.

The authors of the index noted that the total number of victims of terrorism on a global scale had been falling for the fourth consecutive year. In 2018, it amounted to 15,952 people. In comparison, in 2014, 33,555 people died at the hands of terrorists (the highest number ever observed).

Terrorist attacks and casualties in different regions, 2002-2018. Source: Global Terrorism Index 2019.

In 2014, 57.2% of all terrorist attacks and more than half of the victims were in five countries — Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Syria. This year alone, the recently declared “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq was rapidly expanding with the Taliban being active in Afghanistan and Boko Haram being active in Nigeria. In the years that followed, their terrorist activity declined.

However, there is no reason to be significantly optimistic — key terrorist organizations have not been destroyed. Having practiced large-scale terror, they reformatted their activities and lay low, waiting for the next chance.

In some places, like Africa in 2019, they intensified their activities dramatically, which is likely to be reflected in the next ranking.

Returning to the latest data, we see that the number of victims of terrorist attacks in Western Europe decreased by 70% in a year, and the number of registered terrorist attacks was the lowest since 2012.

However, European militants of the defeated IS (Islamic State, an organization banned in Russia and other countries) went home, so it is premature to relax.

The most dangerous countries

In 2018, experts recognized Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria as the most dangerous countries, where extremists representing the global jihadist brands like Al-Qaida and the Islamic State, as well as the Afghan Taliban, have been conducting large-scale terrorist campaigns for many years. Terrorist activity in these countries is “very high” (in numerical terms – more than 8 points out of 10 possible).

For example, in Afghanistan alone, 7,379 people fell victim to terrorists in 2018 — almost half of the world’s total. Despite the increasing activity of the IS in country, the vast majority of people died at the hands of the Taliban.

The Taliban, by the way, became the “winner” in the category “bloodiest terrorist organization” in 2018 (38% of all global victims of terrorism died at the hands of its militants).

Ultra-right terrorism is on the rise

The growth of right-wing terrorism in Western countries (by 320% over the last 5 years) is noteworthy. The most likely reason is the reaction to waves of mass and often uncontrolled migration. The growing sense of threat is pushing indigenous Europeans towards radical action.

Extremely right-wing terrorists have also been present on other continents in recent years – Australia, New Zealand and North America – where there are also serious tensions between racial and religious groups.

The terrorist threat in Russia on the fall

Russia and Ukraine are in the third group of countries where the terrorist threat is “medium”, scoring 4.9 and 5.547 points respectively (37 and 24 places in the overall ranking). At the same time, it should be noted that Russia’s rating has been steadily declining since 2012, i.e. the terrorist activity is falling.

Global Terrorism Index in 2018. Source: Global Terrorism Index

In 2018, the total amount of material damage caused by terrorists in Russia amounted to $100 million — very little compared to other regions.

Last year, 21 terrorist acts were committed in Russia (one third less than a year earlier), 9 of which resulted in human casualties (6 deadly attacks were committed by militants of the Caucasus-based IS groups, whose activity is growing).

One of the main risk factors for Russia at the moment is the military defeat of the IS and the exodus of its fighters to their native land. The question of how many of them will end up in Russia and engage in terrorist activities remains open.

The positions of the former Soviet republics in the Global Terrorism Index have improved or not changed over the past year. No terrorist incidents have been recorded in Kazakhstan over the past two years.

Only Tajikistan has seen a deterioration in the situation, and next year the country’s rating is unlikely to be better, given the recent attack by IS militants on the Uzbek-Tajik border.

Source: Global Terrorism Index

Against the background of not only its neighbors, but also globally, Belarus really looks like an island of security along with 25 other countries that also scored 0.0 points – but only if we consider terrorism.

After all, along with quiet and peaceful Slovenia, Croatia and Singapore, the totalitarian North Korea and Turkmenistan, as well as the criminalized El Salvador, whose citizens are hardly familiar with the feeling of security, also fall into this category.

However, this is already a question of other ratings.

Ivan Lysyuk