An Iran-backed Shiite terrorist organization appears on the U.S. State Department list of the top deadliest and most prolific jihadist groups in the world for the first time in years.
Since 2012, when State first published its list of the top most lethal organizations in the world, all the Islamic extremist groups on it have been Sunni.
The following are a few of the key takeaways from the latest Country Reports on Terrorism, published by State, which covers activity in 2016.
A Shiite Organization Made the List of Top Five Deadliest Groups
Although it has not been officially deemed a foreign terrorist organization by State, Iran-allied Houthi extremists in war-ravaged Yemen made the list of top five groups with the most attacks and kills worldwide. Shiite Houthis killed 374 people, injured 568, and kidnapped 137. The group carried out 267 attacks, putting it in fifth place for the most attacks perpetrated after the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), the Taliban, the Maoist Communists Party of India, and the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab, respectively.
The Islamic Terror Threat from Canada Is Higher Than That from Mexico
There has been an “an increase in terrorist group sympathizers” on social media in Mexico “over the previous year,” reveals State, citing the Mexican government. “The Governments of Mexico and the United States are analyzing this information,” the report continues. However, State suggested the Islamic terrorism threat to the United States stemming from Canada may be higher than that coming from Mexico. In Canada, there are “violent extremists inspired by terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Qai’da and their affiliates and adherents,” notes State.
Meanwhile in Mexico, “There are no known international terrorist organizations operating in Mexico, no evidence that any terrorist group has targeted U.S. citizens in Mexican territory, and no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the United States.”
The United States maintains a strong counterterrorism partnership with both Canada and Mexico. In its report, State also acknowledged that ISIS and Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah continue to operate in Latin American countries below Mexico and the Caribbean, warning, “Many countries in Latin America have porous borders, limited law enforcement capabilities, and established smuggling routes. These vulnerabilities offered opportunities to local and international terrorist groups and posed challenges to governments in the region.”
State Pans ‘Extremist Israelis’ for Tensions with Palestinians
State appears to blame Israel for a lack of peace between Israel and Palestine, stressing that a “lack of hope” is driving Palestinians to resort to violence. Although State notes that Israel is America’s “committed counterterrorism partner,” it adds that Palestinian perpetrated terror is driven by “Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount, and IDF [Israel Defense Forces] tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive.”
Later the report notes, “Extremist Israelis, including settlers, continued to conduct acts of violence as well as ‘price tag’ attacks (property crimes and violent acts by extremist Jewish individuals and groups in retaliation for activity they deemed anti-settlement) in the West Bank and Jerusalem.” Noting that it looked through State terror reports issued under the previous administration, Conservative Review mentions that the “anti-Israel language” has been added by State Secretary Rex Tillerson.
India’s Violent Communists Among World’s Deadliest
The State Department has listed the Maoist Communist Party of India as the third most prolific group in the world, the highest position on the list of perpetrators with the most attacks the organization has landed since 2012. The communist party in India has long been one of the most active of the secular, political, and anarchist groups analyzed by State. Last year, it was responsible for killing 174 people during 336 attacks — coming in after only ISIS and the Taliban on the list of terrorist groups with the most attacks. Al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab came a close fourth with 332 assaults. The al-Qaeda offshoot proved to be more lethal than the communists in India, killing 740 people. Nevertheless, State notes that the communists were responsible for “the deadliest attack in India in 2016,” adding, “Nearly two-thirds of the terrorist attacks carried out in India in 2016 (65%) were attributed to the Communist Party of India-Maoist or Maoist perpetrators not specifically identified as belonging to a particular organization.” Unlike other Maoist groups, the Communist Party of India has not officially been deemed a terrorist organization by the United States. That means two of the groups (Communist Party of India and the Shiite Houthis) on the list of most lethal organizations in the world have not been officially designated terrorists.
More Than 100 Countries Suffered Terror Attacks in 2016
Terrorist attacks, primarily perpetrated by ISIS and other Islamic extremists, spread to 104 countries last year, from 92 in 2015. That means the tentacles of terrorism reached into more than half of the world. “They [terrorism] were heavily concentrated geographically [in 2016],” points out State, adding, “Fifty-five percent of all attacks took place in five countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines), and 75% of all deaths due to terrorist attacks took place in five countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria, and Pakistan).” The worldwide total number of terrorist attacks in 2016 did decrease by nine percent along with the fatalities (13 percent), and kidnappings (21 percent), compared to the previous year. “This was largely due to fewer attacks and deaths in Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Yemen,” points out the report. “In 2016, a total of 11,072 terrorist attacks occurred worldwide, resulting in more than 25,600 total deaths and more than 33,800 people injured … more than 15,500 people were kidnapped or taken hostage,” it later adds. With 1,133 attacks and 9,114 deaths, ISIS was responsible for more attacks and fatalities than any other group, reports State, noting that the attacks exclude those linked to the group’s branches, such as Boko Haram.