While previously in a five-year decline, terrorist activity increased significantly in 2013, from the work of Islamist extremists to Greek anarchists to lone wolf attackers in America. According to a new report released by the United States Department of State this week, 43% more terrorist attacks occurred in 2013 than in 2012.
The comprehensive report notes that much of the surge in violence is due to increased violent terrorist activity in Iraq. As ABC News notes, of the 17,891 total deaths worldwide attributable to terrorism, more than one third of those occurred in Iraq. Terrorist activity in general increased worldwide, however, with more than 9,700 individual attacks recorded last year, compared to 6,700 in 2012. In addition to killings, nearly 30,000 people were kidnapped–a common fundraising practice terrorists use in many parts of the world.
The Taliban was the deadliest of groups on the list–Afghanistan second only to Iraq in deaths–responsible for 2,340 deaths in 2013.
The Taliban was not the only active group responsible for the uptick in terrorist activity. The increase in attacks can also be partly attributable to the disintegration of a central operations team for al-Qaeda. Ayman al-Zawahiri remains the official leader of the group, but the group has splintered into a number of dangerous offshoots that are operating in different regions and independently planning attacks. The report notes that “of the AQ affiliates, [al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] continues to pose the most significant threat to the United States and U.S. citizens and interests in Yemen.” This group operates near Saudi Arabia and is responsible for the en masse gathering in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, which triggered a counteroffensive, both from the United States and the Yemeni military. Other dangerous groups include al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates in Africa, and the former al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has been increasingly active in Syria.
Not all the report’s news was discouraging, however. In Israel, rocket and mortar launchings from Gaza decreased from 2,557 in 2012 to just 74 in 2013, the lowest in a decade.
The report has already sparked outrage from nations that are considered state sponsors of terror. Cuba, which has been on the list since 1982 and has been a longtime safe haven for terrorists from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and assorted United States criminals, called the report “spurious, unilateral, and arbitrary.” The Iranian foreign ministry reacted similarly, stating that the report is “politicized and based on double standards,” and attacking Israel for “Zionist crimes.”
Read the full report here.