According to a US State Department report published in June, while in global terms terrorism continues to spark headlines around the world, it hasn’t manifested itself quite so strikingly in the United States in recent times, possibly owing to the country’s efficacious counter-terrorism mechanisms employed since September 11, 2001.
According to 2014 statistics, while the total number of American fatalities caused by international terrorism has increased over the past year, the number of those killed as a result of terrorist-related attacks over a lengthened period of time has in fact been steadily on the decline. For instance, the fact that not a single U.S. citizen has been killed owing to terrorism inside the United States last year is an extraordinarily encouraging development. It only goes to reflect the massive strides made by the United States in eliminating the scourge of terrorism within its own territory. By contrast, more terrorism related fatalities (an estimated 24) have been reported in the previous year involving Americans in other potentially dangerous regions of the world, namely Afghanistan, where US citizens have travelled frequently.
Key developments in global terrorism last year were marked by the astonishingly unbridled progress of the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) more commonly referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The radical militant islamist group has made extensive inroads into the erstwhile Iraqi- and Syrian-controlled territories abetted by a flood of foreign “Jihadi” fighters flowing into the region in unprecedented numbers. The group continues to inspire clinically orchestrated and brutal lone wolf attacks across many countries by incessantly infiltrating their territories.
According to the report, statistically, the “Near East” has remained a primary target of unrelenting terrorist activity over the years, with ISIS featuring as the foremost architect of a campaign unleashed on thousands of Iraqi and Syrian civilians. In addition, Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups have also continued to maintain a clandestine presence in the region by exploiting the turbulent political and economic character of these regions that include Yemen, Syria, and North Africa.
Similarly, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has taken advantage of the instability in the region, more evidently in Libya. Yemeni authorities continue to militarily engage with the group in the Arabian Peninsula. The initiative has been somewhat stemmed by the armed Houthi movement, which rebelliously antagonized the country’s political establishment last year.
South Asia has remained at the forefront in the struggle against global terrorism. Although al-Qaeda’s clout in regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan has been demonstrably contained, it continues to exert significant influence from remote inaccessible hideouts. Its muscle in the region has been compromised to a large extent by a relentless succession of targeted strikes carried out by international security forces aided appreciably by Afghan and Pakistan military intelligence apparatus. The latter’s ongoing offensive against the Taliban in its North Western Province, initiated last year has compounded matters for the radical militant group.
Per reports, Pakistan’s armed forces, as well as its civilian population, have continued to endure terrorist atrocities in recent times. The Pakistani military has repeatedly spearheaded counter-operations to curb intensifying militant attacks within its own territory. India has also similarly been on the receiving end of terrorist strikes, namely the widespread Maoist insurgency among other lesser entities.
China in the meanwhile has experienced equally disruptive terrorism related violence in 2014. Its heightened security operations in the “Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR),” intended to prevent additional domestic acts of terrorism, are a case in point. Europe had been exposed to number of problematic terrorism-related elements emanating from numerous sources. Approximately 40 European countries have joined hands to support the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL in the Middle East.
Africa on the other hand witnessed a massive spike in terrorist activity last year. East Africa remained perilously entrenched in conflict with the radical Somalia-based terrorist group al-Shabaab, with the former only occasionally successful in thwarting the latter’s onslaught. In West Africa, conflict in Nigeria has exacerbated in the northeast, with Boko Haram launching hundreds of attacks last year, resulting in over ‘5,000 casualties.’
The report has highlighted the ongoing civil war in Syria as a critical factor driving global terrorism in 2014.
‘The rate of foreign terrorist fighter travel to Syria – totaling more than 16,000 foreign terrorist fighters from more than 90 countries as of late December – exceeded the rate of foreign terrorist fighters who traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, or Somalia at any point in the last 20 years’
Meanwhile in the western hemisphere, the United States has rather successfully continued to collaborate with both Canada and Mexico to ensure satisfactory monitoring of shared borders by employing extensively elaborate intelligence sharing mechanisms.
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