National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism: Annex of Statistical Information

Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism
Report
   

Statistical Information on Terrorism in 2016

Title 22, Section 2656f of the United States Code requires the Department of State to include in its annual report on terrorism "to the extent practicable, complete statistical information on the number of individuals, including United States citizens and dual nationals, killed, injured, or kidnapped by each terrorist group during the preceding calendar year." The definition found in Title 22 of the U.S. Code provides that terrorism is “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.” From 2004 to 2011, the data for the Annex of Statistical Information were collected by the National Counterterrorism Center, part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, through the Worldwide Incidents Tracking System (WITS).

Beginning in June 2012, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) contracted with the U.S. Department of State to collect a Statistical Annex dataset and provide a report to include in the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism. Since 2001, START has maintained the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), an unclassified event database compiled from information in open-source reports of terrorist attacks. The first version of the GTD was released in 2006 and included information on worldwide terrorism from 1970 to 1997. START routinely updates and improves the accuracy of the data. The full GTD (1970-2015) and accompanying documentation are available to the public at www.start.umd.edu/gtd. The GTD staff compiled the Statistical Annex dataset to include violent acts carried out by non-state actors that meet all of the GTD inclusion criteria:

  1. The violent act was aimed at attaining a political, economic, religious, or social goal;
  2. The violent act included evidence of an intention to coerce, intimidate, or convey some other message to a larger audience (or audiences) other than the immediate victims; and
  3. The violent act was outside the precepts of International Humanitarian Law insofar as it targeted non-combatants.

Readers familiar with the GTD will note that inclusion in the GTD proper, from which the Statistical Annex data set was derived, requires that an event meet at least two out of the three inclusion criteria above. In consultation with the U.S. Department of State, START determined that it was appropriate to include in the Statistical Annex dataset only those events for which all three criteria were met in order to adhere to the definition established in the U.S. Code. In addition, the Statistical Annex dataset excludes any events in the GTD for which there was considerable uncertainty or conflicting reports regarding the inclusion criteria.

The GTD research staff continually evaluates and enhances the methodology to promote comprehensive, accurate, and systematic data collection. In particular, in 2012 START developed data collection tools that expand the number of sources available for analysis and automate the selection of potentially relevant articles from which GTD staff identify unique attacks and record their specific details.

Due to the evolution in data collection methodology with respect to both WITS and prior versions of the GTD it is important to note that the data presented here are not directly comparable with data from either of these sources prior to 2012. In general, comparisons of aggregate statistics over time and between locations should be interpreted with caution due to considerable variation in the availability of source materials.

This Annex of Statistical Information is a guide to worldwide terrorist activity as reported by unclassified sources. These data represent START’s best efforts to report the most comprehensive, valid information on terrorism, based on the availability of open-source data and resources. We hope that these data will be useful for improving knowledge about patterns and characteristics of terrorism, and helpful for maintaining global awareness of the threat it poses.

The Annex of Statistical Information is provided for statistical purposes only. The statistical information contained in the Annex is based on reports from a variety of open sources that may be of varying credibility. Nothing in this report should be construed as a determination that individuals associated with the underlying incidents are guilty of terrorism or any other criminal offense. As with all records in the GTD, the information may be modified, as necessary and appropriate, if new information becomes available.

Any assessments and descriptions, including those regarding the nature of the incidents or the factual circumstances thereof, are offered only as part of the analytic work product of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) and may not reflect the views of the United States government.

SIGNIFICANT TRENDS

  • The total number of terrorist attacks in 2016 decreased by 9% and total deaths due to terrorist attacks decreased by 13%, compared to 2015. This was largely due to fewer attacks and deaths in Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Yemen. Twenty-six percent of all deaths in 2016 were perpetrator deaths, up from 24% in 2015.
  • In several countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, and Turkey, terrorist attacks and total deaths increased in 2016.
  • Although terrorist attacks took place in 104 countries in 2016, they were heavily concentrated geographically. 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 Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was responsible for more attacks and deaths than any other perpetrator group in 2016. In particular, ISIS carried out 20% more terrorist attacks in Iraq, and caused 69% more total deaths in Iraq, compared to 2015. Beyond Iraq and Syria, ISIS and perpetrator groups that have pledged allegiance to ISIS carried out attacks in more than 20 different countries. In addition to Boko Haram in West Africa, the most active of the ISIS affiliates were located in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.
  • The number of attacks in which victims were kidnapped or taken hostage continued to decline in 2016; however, the number of kidnapping victims and hostages continued to increase. Like in 2015, this was primarily due to a small number of attacks involving exceptionally large numbers of victims.

INCIDENTS OF TERRORISM WORLDWIDE

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. These casualty figures include more than 6,700 perpetrator deaths and 1,600 perpetrator injuries. In addition, more than 15,500 people were kidnapped or taken hostage. In this report we describe patterns of worldwide terrorist activity with respect to changes during the year, geographic concentration, casualties, perpetrator organizations, tactics, weapons, and targets.

Table 1: Terrorist attacks and casualties worldwide by month, 2016

Month

Total Attacks

Total Deaths*

Total Injured*

Kidnapped/Hostages

January

996

2115

2722

1297

February

953

2443

2751

828

March

929

1675

4304

647

April

903

2230

2638

1136

May

1092

2338

2844

791

June

966

2362

3374

2781

July

920

2148

3294

339

August

932

2028

2771

3525

September

838

1546

2171

360

October

929

3082

2693

1865

November

882

1768

2503

1442

December

732

1886

1749

532

Total

11072

25621

33814

15543

*Includes perpetrators

  • On average, there were 923 terrorist attacks, causing 2,135 deaths, injuring 2,818 people, and involving 1,295 hostages or kidnap victims per month, worldwide in 2016. There were 2.4 deaths and 3.3 people injured per attack, including perpetrator casualties.
  • Shown in Table 1, total attacks worldwide peaked in May 2016. The months with the most combined casualties (people killed and injured) were March, June, and October.
    • In past years (2012, 2013, and 2014), total attacks and casualties worldwide generally peaked in May or June, coinciding with the onset of spring “fighting season” in Afghanistan. In 2015, considerable decreases elsewhere obscured the influence of increasing terrorist attacks in Afghanistan on global statistics.
    • However, in 2016 the peak in May was largely a result of a sharp increase in the number of terrorist attacks in Iraq (309 attacks). Unlike previous years, the number of attacks in Afghanistan showed little indication of seasonal influence, instead decreasing fairly steadily throughout the year.
  • The total number of people killed in terrorist attacks peaked in October 2016, driven by sharp increases in total fatalities in both Iraq (more than 1,400 killed) and Afghanistan (more than 750 killed). In October, Iraq experienced the highest number of total deaths in a single country/month since June 2014, when more than 1,800 were killed in Iraq.
  • Of the 25,621 people killed in terrorist attacks in 2016, 6,755 (26%) were perpetrators of terrorist attacks. Perpetrators killed themselves intentionally in suicide attacks, unintentionally while attempting to carry out attacks, or were killed by security forces or victims responding to attacks. This is a 6% decrease in the number of perpetrator deaths, compared to 2015.

LOCATION

Terrorist attacks took place in 104 countries in 2016; however, they were heavily concentrated geographically. 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).

Given the limitations of media coverage in Syria, the data presented here are conservative estimates of terrorism in Syria. Consistent with START’s practice of including in the GTD only those attacks that have been verified by at least one well-regarded source, these statistics represent those incidents that were reported by independent news outlets.

Globally aggregated statistics do not represent uniform patterns worldwide. They are produced by diverse trends in violence and heavily influenced by events in several key locations. The statistical profiles in Table 2 illustrate many of these dynamics. Note that the statistics from 2015 were revised as new information became available.

Table 2: Ten countries with the most terrorist attacks, 2016

 

Total
Attacks

Total
Deaths*

Deaths per Attack*

Total Injured*

Injured per Attack*

Total Kidnapped/
Hostages

2016

2015

2016

2015

2016

2015

2016

2015

2016

2015

2016

2015

Iraq

2965

2417

9764

6973

3.44

3.01

13314

11900

4.74

5.25

8586

4008

Afghanistan

1340

1716

4561

5312

3.58

3.24

5054

6250

4.03

3.99

1673

1134

India

927

798

337

289

0.38

0.38

636

500

0.73

0.66

317

866

Pakistan

734

1010

955

1087

1.34

1.11

1729

1338

2.43

1.37

450

279

Philippines

482

490

272

260

0.58

0.54

418

430

0.90

0.90

216

127

Nigeria

466

588

1832

4940

4.35

9.13

919

2786

2.66

7.70

265

858

Syria

363

387

2088

2767

6.42

7.91

2656

2830

9.16

9.63

1406

1476

Turkey

363

309

657

337

1.81

1.11

2282

828

6.37

2.78

18

141

Yemen

363

460

628

1517

1.89

3.90

793

2599

2.44

6.97

173

456

Somalia

359

241

740

659

2.18

3.05

943

463

2.91

2.28

373

161

Worldwide

11072

12121

25621

29424

2.44

2.56

33814

37419

3.32

3.40

15543

12264

*Includes perpetrators

Two countries listed in Table 2 were not among the ten countries with the most deaths in 2016. These included: India (ranked 12th in terms of total deaths) and the Philippines (ranked 15th in terms of total deaths). Likewise, two countries were not ranked in Table 2 among those with the most attacks, but were among the ten with the most deaths in 2016. These included the Democratic Republic of the Congo (ranked 15th in terms of total attacks and 9th in terms of total deaths) and South Sudan (ranked 28th in terms of total attacks and 10th in terms of total deaths).

  • Attacks
    • Several countries that have routinely experienced large numbers of terrorist attacks in recent years observed considerable decreases in total attacks in 2016, compared to 2015. These included Pakistan (-27%), Afghanistan (-22%), Nigeria (-21%), and Yemen (-21%), and to a lesser extent Syria (-6%) and the Philippines (-2%).
    • In contrast, Iraq, which has experienced more terrorist attacks than any other country each year since 2013, saw a 23% increase in total attacks in 2016. Other top-ranked countries that experienced increases in total attacks in 2016 included Somalia (+49%), Turkey (+17%), and India (+16%).
    • Overall, global patterns produced a net decrease of 9% in terrorist attacks worldwide between 2015 and 2016.
    • Several countries that were not among those with the most attacks nonetheless saw considerable increases in 2016. These included Saudi Arabia (+129%, from 48 attacks in 2015 to 110 attacks in 2016).
    • In Bangladesh, terrorist violence increased 296% between 2014 and 2015, coinciding specifically with the anniversary of disputed 2014 elections. Data for 2016 indicated that this was an isolated pattern, as Bangladesh saw a sharp decrease (-82%, from 461 attacks in 2015 to 85 attacks in 2016).
  • Deaths
    • In several of the locations that experienced the most terrorism, a decrease in attacks in 2016 coincided with a decrease in total deaths. These included Nigeria (-63%), Yemen (-59%), Syria (-25%), Afghanistan (-14%), and Pakistan (-12%). Decreases in these countries more than accounted for the 13% net decrease in total deaths worldwide in 2016.
    • Likewise, the countries that experienced large increases in the number of terrorist attacks also saw large increases in the number of total deaths due to terrorist attacks in 2016. These included: Turkey (+95%), Iraq (+40%), India (+17%), and Somalia (+12%).
    • Several countries that were not among those with the most deaths nonetheless experienced considerable increases in 2016. These included Ethiopia (+3,886%, from seven deaths in 2015 to 279 deaths in 2016) and Germany (+2,500%, from one death in 2015 to 26 deaths in 2016).
    • In 2016, 26% of all deaths from terrorist attacks worldwide were perpetrator deaths; however, the prevalence of perpetrator deaths varied geographically.
    • Although Afghanistan experienced a 14% decrease in total deaths in 2016, the proportion of total deaths due to terrorist attacks in Afghanistan that were perpetrator deaths remained extraordinarily high. Fifty-one percent of all deaths due to terrorism in Afghanistan in 2016 were perpetrator deaths, an increase from 47% in 2015.
    • Likewise, perpetrator deaths in Iraq increased 79% between 2015 and 2016, comprising 25% of total deaths in Iraq, and accounting for more than one-third of the increase in total deaths in Iraq between 2015 and 2016.
  • Injuries
    • The total number of people injured due to terrorist attacks worldwide declined 10% in 2016. However, this global statistic obscures a great deal of regional variation. For example, Yemen (-69%), Nigeria (-67%), and Afghanistan (-19%) saw large decreases in the number of people injured in 2016.
    • By contrast, in Turkey (+176%), Somalia (+104%), Pakistan (+29%), India (+27%), and Iraq (+12%) there were large increases in the total number of people injured due to terrorist attacks in 2016.
  • Kidnapping Victims and Hostages
    • While worldwide attacks, the total number of deaths, and the total number of people injured decreased in 2016, the number of people kidnapped or taken hostage in terrorist attacks worldwide increased 26%.
    • In 2016, there were three countries in which more than 1,000 people were kidnapped or taken hostage: Iraq (8,586; +114%); Afghanistan (1,673; +48%), and Syria (1,406; -5%).
    • The sharp increase in Iraq – where the already high number of people kidnapped or taken hostage more than doubled in 2016 – was entirely the result of two particular events. In June 2016, Kata’ib Hizballah claimed responsibility for abducting 1,500 displaced civilians in Al-Anbar governorate. In August 2016, 3,000 displaced civilians were abducted in Kirkuk governorate in an attack attributed to ISIS. These two attacks involved more hostages than any other event in the Statistical Annex dataset. They are followed by the January 2013 attack during which 850 hostages were held by Al-Mua'qi'oon Biddam Brigade in Algeria, and a third 2016 attack in December in Aleppo, Syria, in which Hizballah held 800 hostages.
    • Several of the countries that experienced the most terrorism saw decreases in the number of people kidnapped or taken hostage in terrorist attacks in 2016. These included Turkey (-87%), Nigeria (-69%), India (-63%), and Yemen (-62%).

COUNTRY PROFILES

Iraq

  • By a wide margin, the highest numbers of total attacks, deaths, and people injured took place in Iraq. In 2016 there were more than twice as many terrorist attacks in Iraq as the next highest-ranked country, Afghanistan.
  • The average lethality of attacks in Iraq was 3.4 deaths per attack, 42% higher than the global average (2.4 deaths per attack).
  • Perpetrator deaths in Iraq increased 79% between 2015 and 2016, comprising 25% of total deaths in Iraq, and accounting for more than one-third of the increase in total deaths in Iraq between 2015 and 2016.
  • The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) remained the primary perpetrator of terrorist attacks in Iraq in 2016. For 66% of attacks in Iraq, source materials did not attribute responsibility to a particular perpetrator organization; however, ISIS was identified as the perpetrator in 94% of the remaining attacks for which a perpetrator organization was named. An additional 5% of attacks were carried out by Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq. The number of attacks ISIS carried out in Iraq increased from 775 in 2015 to 932 in 2016 (+23%).
  • The total number of deaths due to terrorist attacks in Iraq increased 40% in 2016, due in large part to an increase in highly lethal attacks. Twelve of the 20 deadliest individual attacks in 2016 took place in Iraq, compared to two in 2015 and four in 2014. Each of these attacks resulted in more than 80 total deaths. The deadliest attack in Iraq in 2016 took place in July when an ISIS suicide attacker detonated explosives at a shopping center in the Karada neighborhood of Baghdad, killing at least 380 and wounding 200 others.
  • In 2016, terrorism in Iraq continued to be marked by extremely deadly coordinated attacks. On 78 occasions during the year, there were more than 10 attacks on a single day within a particular country. Of these, more than two-thirds (71%) took place in Iraq. Likewise, there were 85 occasions in 2016 when more than 50 people were killed in terrorist attacks on one day in a particular country. More than half (55%) of these highly lethal days occurred in Iraq and involved up to 57 attacks on a single day.
  • Extensive campaigns of non-lethal violence also took place in Iraq in 2016. For example, the leader of the Dawr District Council reported to the media that ISIS detonated explosives at more than 100 houses in the district over the course of a week in September. No casualties were reported, but dozens of families were forced to relocate.
  • More than 2,400 attacks – the vast majority of all attacks in Iraq (86%) in 2016 – were classified as bombings/explosions. An additional 6% were armed assaults, 4% were kidnappings, 2% were facility attacks, and 2% were assassinations. Overall, 9% of all attacks were suicide attacks. These trends are generally very consistent with patterns of tactics in 2015, with the exception of declining numbers of assassinations (48 in 2016 compared to 73 in 2015), and increasing numbers of facility attacks (50 in 2016 compared to eight in 2015).
  • The percentage of attacks involving people kidnapped or taken hostage in Iraq (5%) remained stable in 2016. Like in 2015 and 2014, the prevalence of attacks involving people kidnapped or taken hostage in Iraq was half that of the global percentage (10%) in 2016.
  • However, following sharp increases in the total number of people kidnapped or held hostage in Iraq in 2013, 2014, and 2015, this number more than doubled in 2016, to include more than 8,500 people. Once again, this increase was largely due to a relatively small number of attacks that involved extremely high numbers of victims. Specifically, in 2014, there was one attack involving more than 200 people kidnapped or taken hostage, in 2015 there were two such attacks, and in 2016 there were six, including one attack in which 1,500 people were abducted, and one attack in which 3,000 people were abducted.
  • In 2016 the most common types of targets in Iraq were private citizens and property (55%), businesses (15%), and police (7%). While the number of attacks overall in Iraq increased in 2016, the number of attacks against the following types of targets decreased, compared to 2015: police (-22%), non-diplomatic government (-13%), military (-51%), transportation (-34%), and educational institutions (-32%).
  • The geographic distribution of terrorist attacks in Iraq shifted somewhat in 2016. Fewer attacks took place in Baghdad governorate (33%, compared to 41% in 2015). In contrast, more attacks took place in al Anbar governorate (22%, compared to 16% in 2015) and Nineveh governorate (9%, compared to 4% in 2015).

Afghanistan

  • The total number of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan decreased 22% between 2015 and 2016, while the total number of deaths decreased 14%. At the same time, perpetrator deaths declined 7%, and the percentage of total fatalities in Afghanistan that were perpetrator deaths remained especially high – 51%, compared to 26% worldwide.
  • Like Iraq, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Somalia, Afghanistan also experienced a large increase (47%) in the number of people kidnapped or taken hostage in terrorist attacks in 2016.
  • Information about perpetrator groups was reported for two-thirds of all attacks in Afghanistan in 2016 (67%). Nearly all of these (94%) were attributed to the Taliban. Attacks carried out by the Taliban in 2016 killed more than 3,500 people (including nearly 2,000 perpetrators) and wounded more than 3,500 additional people. The Khorasan branch of ISIS remained active in Afghanistan in 2016, carrying out 6% of attacks in which a perpetrator group was identified.
  • Three of the 20 deadliest individual attacks in 2016 took place in Afghanistan – in Kunduz, Helmand, and Ghazni provinces. The Taliban claimed responsibility for all three attacks.
  • Attacks against police targets, especially personnel, checkpoints, and police buildings, comprised 35% of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan in 2016. This represents a decrease from 2015, when 45% of all attacks in Afghanistan targeted police. However, police targets were still twice as prevalent in Afghanistan as worldwide (17%). Private citizens and property were targeted in one-third (33%) of the attacks in Afghanistan in 2016 (increased from 24% in 2015), followed by non-diplomatic government targets, which comprised 12% of attacks in 2016.
  • In Afghanistan 7% of all terrorist attacks were suicide attacks in 2016. The number of suicide attacks declined from 137 in 2015 to 99 in 2016. With this latest decline, the prevalence of suicide attacks in Afghanistan is relatively consistent with the global average (6% in 2016).
  • Terrorist attacks continued to occur throughout Afghanistan in 2016, taking place in 33 of the country’s 34 provinces (with the exception of Panjsher province). The provinces that experienced the most attacks in 2016 were Helmand (8%), Nangarhar (8%), Kabul (7%), Kandahar (7%), and Faryab (6%).

India

  • Both the number of terrorist attacks (+16%) and the total number of deaths (+17%) increased in India in 2016.
  • Although India ranked highly among countries that experienced the most terrorist attacks in 2016, the lethality of these attacks remained relatively low compared to other countries that also experienced a great deal of terrorist violence. On average, terrorist attacks in India caused 0.4 total deaths per attack in 2016, compared to 2.4 deaths per attack worldwide. Nearly three-quarters of attacks (73%) in India in 2016 were non-lethal. The deadliest attack in India in 2016 took place in July, when the Communist Party of India – Maoist detonated explosives and opened fire on Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Bihar state. Sixteen people were killed in the attack, including six assailants.
  • The number of perpetrators killed in terrorist attacks in India decreased 20% in 2016.
  • There was a sharp increase in the number of people kidnapped or taken hostage in terrorist attacks in India in 2015. This pattern – which was largely the result of relatively few attacks involving especially large numbers of people kidnapped or taken hostage –reversed in 2016. The total number of people kidnapped or taken hostage in terrorist attacks in India, decreased 63%, from 866 in 2015 to 317 in 2016.
  • A majority of terrorist attacks in India in 2016 involved either bombings/explosions (47%) or armed assaults (18%). In addition, kidnappings were particularly prevalent in India (15% of all attacks, compared to 10% worldwide), as were facility/infrastructure attacks (12% of all attacks, compared to 6% worldwide).
  • More than half of the terrorist attacks in India in 2016 took place in four states: Jammu and Kashmir (19%), Chhattisgarh (18%), Manipur (12%), and Jharkhand (10%). This geographic pattern is relatively stable compared to 2015, with the exception of Jammu and Kashmir, which experienced an especially large (+93%) increase in attacks in 2016.
  • Information about the perpetrator groups responsible for terrorist attacks in India was reported in source materials for 55% of all attacks. Compared to the other countries that experienced the most terrorist attacks and fatalities in 2016, the diversity of perpetrator groups was much greater in India, with 52 active groups. However, 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.

Pakistan

  • In 2016, the total number of terrorist attacks reported in Pakistan decreased 27%, and the total number of deaths decreased 12%; however, the total number of people injured increased 29% in comparison to 2015. The number of perpetrators killed in attacks in Pakistan in 2016 decreased 25% between 2015 and 2016. Perpetrator deaths comprised 9% of all deaths in Pakistan in 2016, compared to 26% worldwide.
  • For 70% of all attacks in Pakistan, source materials did not identify a perpetrator group. Of the remaining attacks, 30% were carried out by Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the most active and deadly perpetrator group in Pakistan in 2016. The number of terrorist attacks carried out by TTP continued to decline, to 67 in 2016, down from 136 in 2013. However, following sharp declines in previous years, the lethality of attacks carried out by TTP increased in 2016 to 283 total deaths, up from 240 in 2015.
  • In addition, the Khorasan branch of ISIS – which first claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks in Pakistan in December 2014 – carried out 13% of attacks in Pakistan in 2016. ISIS operatives increased their activity in Pakistan in 2016, carrying out 29 attacks (+93% compared to 2015) that killed a total of 154 people (+191%) and wounded 271 others (+613%).
  • Lashkar i Jhangvi was responsible for 9% of terrorist attacks in Pakistan in 2016. These included an attack in October in which three assailants armed with explosives and firearms held 300 police cadets hostage in an overnight standoff at a training facility in Quetta. In addition to the assailants, 64 people were killed and more than 160 were injured.
  • Fourteen other groups, including a number of Baloch nationalist groups such as the Baloch Liberation Front, the Baloch Liberation Army, the Baloch Republican Army, and the United Baloch Army, carried out attacks in Pakistan, particularly in Balochistan.
  • Two-thirds of terrorist attacks in Pakistan in 2016 targeted the police (29%), private citizens and property (27%), and non-diplomatic government entities (11%). Although attacks on educational institutions, religious figures and institutions, and transportation targets each comprised 4-5% of all terrorist attacks in Pakistan in 2016, these types of targets were approximately twice as prevalent in Pakistan, compared to worldwide.
  • The majority of attacks in Pakistan in 2016 took place in Balochistan (41%) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (29%). The declines in terrorist violence between 2015 and 2016 were particularly steep in Sindh province, where attacks decreased by 54% (178 in 2015 to 82 in 2016) and total deaths decreased by 77% (293 in 2015 to 68 in 2016). In contrast, a 25% decline in attacks in Balochistan between 2015 and 2016 coincided with a 50% increase in total deaths.

Philippines

  • Terrorist violence in the Philippines was relatively consistent between 2015 and 2016. However, due to declining frequency of terrorist attacks elsewhere, the Philippines ranked fifth among countries in terms of total attacks in 2016. The number of attacks in the Philippines declined by 2% (490 in 2015 to 482 in 2016), and the total number of deaths in the Philippines increased by 5% (260 in 2015 to 272 in 2016).
  • Like India, the average lethality of terrorist attacks in the Philippines (0.6 deaths per attack) was markedly lower than the global average in 2016 (2.4 deaths per attack). Terrorist attacks in the Philippines were slightly less likely to be successful (76%) in the Philippines, compared to worldwide trends (81%)
  • Among the ten countries that experienced the most terrorist attacks in 2016, the percentage of people killed who were perpetrators was lowest in the Philippines – 7%. This figure has declined since 2014, when 21% of all deaths in the Philippines were perpetrator deaths.
  • Although the number of terrorist attacks in the Philippines in which people were kidnapped or taken hostage remained stable between 2015 and 2016, the number of people kidnapped or taken hostage increased 70%, from 127 in 2015 to 216 in 2016.
  • In three cases, one carried out by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in January and two carried out by the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) in November and December, approximately 20 to 30 civilians were abducted from a bus and released the same day.
  • For 57% of all attacks in the Philippines in 2016, the source materials did not identify the perpetrator group responsible for the attack. Among the remaining attacks, 57% were carried out by the (CPP/NPA), 20% were carried out by the ASG, and 13% were attributed to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement. An additional 6% of remaining attacks (12 events) were attributed to ISIS or the ISIS-linked Maute Group.
  • Terrorist attacks in the Philippines in 2016 targeted non-diplomatic government targets more than any other type of target. In fact, these targets comprised 39% of all attacks in the Philippines, compared to 10% globally. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the attacks on government entities targeted politicians, political parties, and political rallies/meetings, rather than government employees and facilities (17%), or election-related targets (10%). An additional 21% of attacks in the Philippines in 2016 targeted private citizens and property, and 12% targeted the police.
  • The primary tactics used by terrorists in the Philippines differed considerably from global trends in 2016. Although bombings were the most common tactic in the Philippines, they comprised one-third (33%) of all attacks in the Philippines, compared to more than half (57%) worldwide. In contrast, assassinations were more than four times as prevalent in the Philippines (29% of all attacks) as globally (7% of all attacks). The frequency of assassinations increased 131% between 2014 and 2016. In 2016, the vast majority of these attacks (81%) targeted politicians and political party members.
  • Sixty of the Philippines’ 81 provinces experienced terrorist attacks in 2016. Although the attacks were geographically dispersed, five locations experienced more than 20 attacks throughout the year: Maguindanao (62), Basilan (32), North Cotabato (27), Masbate (23), and Batangas (22).

Nigeria

  • The frequency and lethality of terrorism in Nigeria continued to decline in 2016, following severe increases in the total number of attacks, deaths, injuries, and hostages in 2014. Compared to 2015, the number of attacks declined by 21%, the total number people killed due to terrorist attacks declined by 63%, total injuries declined by 67%, and the number of people kidnapped or taken hostage in terrorist attacks declined by 69%.
  • The number of perpetrators killed in terrorist attacks in Nigeria decreased by 80% from 2015 to 2016, accounting for one-fifth (21%) of the decline in total deaths in Nigeria. Perpetrator deaths comprised 9% of total deaths in Nigeria in 2016, compared to 26% worldwide.
  • In 2016, the average lethality of terrorist attacks in Nigeria was 4.4 deaths per attack, compared to 9.5 deaths per attack in 2015. Despite these reductions, more than 1,800 people were killed, and Nigeria ranked fourth among countries in terms of total fatalities due to terrorism in 2016.
  • Exceptionally lethal attacks became somewhat less prevalent in Nigeria in 2016. In 2014, there were 20 individual attacks that caused more than 50 total fatalities in Nigeria. In 2015, there were eight such attacks, and in 2016 there were four, none of which resulted in more than 100 fatalities.
  • In 2014 and 2015, attack patterns in Nigeria were characterized by numerous instances of multi-part, coordinated, highly lethal attacks, typically carried out by Boko Haram. In contrast, there was one series of attacks, reportedly carried out by Fulani militants, in February 2016 in which assailants killed at least 300 people in six different villages in Benue state.
  • Information about perpetrator groups was reported for 77% of terrorist attacks in Nigeria in 2016. Due to a 63% decrease in the number of attacks carried out by Boko Haram and a 62% increase in the number of attacks carried out by Fulani militants, Fulani militants were responsible for the most terrorist attacks in Nigeria in 2016.
  • In 2016, 97% of terrorist attacks in Nigeria were attributed to five perpetrator groups. Fulani militants – who are engaged in a land resource conflict in eastern Nigeria – were responsible for 146 terrorist attacks (40%) and 795 total deaths, at least two of which were perpetrator deaths. Boko Haram was responsible for 137 terrorist attacks (38%) and 762 total deaths, more than 150 of which were perpetrator deaths. In addition, several new groups emerged in the Niger Delta region, including the Niger Delta Avengers (responsible for 47 attacks) and the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate (responsible for 10 attacks). Assailants described as Ijaw militants also carried out 11 attacks in Lagos, Delta, and Ogun, killing more than 60 people.
  • The majority of terrorist attacks in Nigeria in 2016 (62%) targeted private citizens and property, compared to 41% worldwide. Seventy-five percent of the terrorist attacks in Nigeria that targeted private citizens and property victimized the residents of entire villages, towns, or cities, rather than specific individuals. The second most frequently attacked targets in Nigeria in 2016 were utilities, primarily oil-related targets in Delta, Bayelsa, and Rivers. Attacks on utilities comprised 17% of terrorist attacks in Nigeria, compared to 3% worldwide.
  • In 2016, terrorist attacks took place in 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory. The increasingly disparate nature of perpetrator groups in Nigeria was also reflected in the geographic distribution of attacks. From 2013 to 2015 more than 40% of terrorist attacks in Nigeria were concentrated in Borno. In 2016, this decreased to 25%, while the share of attacks that took place in Benue increased from 11% in 2015 to 20% in 2016, the share of attacks that took place in Delta increased from 1% in 2015 to 12% in 2016, the share of attacks that took place in Kaduna increased from 2% in 2015 to 7% in 2016, and the share of attacks that took place in Bayelsa increased from 1% in 2015 to 5% in 2016.

CASUALTIES

  • The total number of deaths from terrorist attacks worldwide decreased by 13%, from 29,424 in 2015 to 25,621 in 2016. These figures include perpetrator deaths, which decreased by 6%, from 7,150 in 2015 to 6,755 in 2016.
  • Shown in Figure 1, nearly half of all attacks in 2016 (47%) were non-lethal, and attacks that caused more than ten deaths represented a relatively small proportion (5%) of all terrorist attacks in 2016. This pattern is generally consistent with the pattern of casualties in 2015, although the number of attacks that caused more than 10 fatalities did decrease 21% from 620 attacks (causing nearly 16,000 deaths) in 2015 to 491 attacks (causing approximately 14,000 deaths) in 2016.

Figure 1: Casualties due to terrorist attacks worldwide, 2016*

Date: 07/17/2017 Description: Figure 1: Casualties due to terrorist attacks worldwide, 2016 - State Dept Image

*Includes perpetrators

  • These attacks occurred in 32 different countries in 2016, including most frequently Iraq (187), Afghanistan (101), Syria (51), and Nigeria (36).
  • The number of exceptionally lethal terrorist attacks in which more than 100 people were killed continued to decline in 2016. In 2014, 20 such attacks took place, primarily driving the dramatic increase in total fatalities that year. In 2015, the number of exceptionally lethal attacks involving more than 100 deaths declined to 14, and in 2016 this figure further declined – there were 10 attacks involving more than 100 total deaths. Seven took place in Iraq, one in Afghanistan, one in Syria, and one in South Sudan. Combined, these attacks resulted in the deaths of more than 2,500 people, nearly 800 of whom were perpetrators.
  • Among the attacks that resulted in only one death in 2016, 46% were bombings, 27% were armed assaults, 16% were assassinations, and 7% were kidnappings.
  • In 8% of the terrorist attacks that resulted in one death, the person killed was the perpetrator, and 51% of this subset of attacks were suicide attacks. The remainder involved a perpetrator who was either killed accidentally when explosives detonated prematurely, or the attack was repelled by authorities.
  • The majority of non-lethal attacks in 2016 were bombings (64%), and 34% of the non-lethal attacks were unsuccessful (e.g., an explosive was planted but it was defused or failed to detonate). Overall, the percentage of attacks that were unsuccessful has been gradually increasing, to 19% in 2016 from 12% in 2012.
  • More than 15,000 people were kidnapped or taken hostage in 1,114 terrorist attacks in 2016. While there were 8% fewer kidnapping and hostage attacks in 2016, the total number of people kidnapped or taken hostage increased by 27%.
  • In 20 attacks in 2016, more than 100 victims were kidnapped or taken hostage. Thirteen of these attacks, involving more than 5,200 victims in total, were carried out in Iraq and Syria by ISIS. The victims of these attacks included former police officers, children who would reportedly be trained as suicide bombers, activists, civilians who were displaced or who refused to fight against security forces, and women who refused to marry ISIS fighters. More than 1,200 were subsequently killed.
  • More than 3,500 kidnapping victims or hostages who were taken in 2016 were released, rescued, or escaped from their captors. The remaining hostages were either killed, remained in captivity, or the outcome of the event was not reported.

PERPETRATORS

  • Information about perpetrators was reported in source materials for 52% of terrorist attacks in 2016. A total of 334 groups and organizations were identified as perpetrators of terrorist attacks, compared to 288 in 2015. This includes approximately 100 groups and organizations that had not previously been identified as perpetrators in the Global Terrorism Database.
  • In 35% of the attacks for which there was information about perpetrator groups, an organization explicitly claimed responsibility. For the remaining attacks, source documents attributed responsibility to a particular group or groups based on reports from authorities or observers.
  • Table 3 shows the five perpetrator groups responsible for the most terrorist attacks in 2016, along with the number of terrorist attacks they carried out, the number of people killed and injured by these attacks, and the number of people kidnapped or taken hostage in these attacks.
  • Of the attacks for which perpetrator information was reported in 2016, 19% were carried out by ISIS. (Note: Attacks attributed to ISIS in the Statistical Annex dataset exclude those attributed to specific declared branches of ISIS such as those operating in Egypt, Libya, and West Africa. They also do not include attacks carried out by unaffiliated individuals who might have been inspired by ISIS.) Additionally, 13% of attacks in 2016 were carried out by the Taliban.

Table 3: Five perpetrator groups with the most attacks worldwide, 2016

 

Total Attacks

Total
Deaths*

Total Injured*

Total Kidnapped/
Hostages

2016

2015

2016

2015

2016

2015

2016

2015

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)**

1133

969

9114

6178

7671

6608

8379

4805

Taliban

848

1104

3615

4535

3572

4758

1498

975

Maoists/Communist Party of India - Maoist (CPI-Maoist)

336

347

174

177

141

156

171

707

Al-Shabaab

332

226

740

836

921

561

375

559

Houthi Extremists

267

292

374

978

568

1704

137

387

* Includes perpetrators
** Excludes attacks attributed to branches of ISIS or ISIS-inspired individuals

  • Two of the organizations listed in Table 3 carried out more terrorist attacks in 2016 than they did in 2015, including ISIS (+17%) and al-Shabaab (+47%). However, while al-Shabaab’s lethality decreased (11% fewer total deaths in 2016), the total number of deaths caused by ISIS increased 48% and the number of people kidnapped or taken hostage by ISIS increased 75% in 2016, compared to 2015.
  • Terrorist violence by Maoist extremists in India remained fairly consistent between 2015 and 2016 with respect to the number of attacks, the number of deaths, and the number of people injured. However the number of people kidnapped or taken hostage by Maoist extremists in India decreased 76%.
  • In contrast, the number of terrorist attacks carried out by the Taliban in 2016 decreased 23% compared to 2015, and the total number of deaths caused by the Taliban’s terrorist attacks decreased 20%. Likewise, the number of attacks carried out by Houthi extremists decreased 9%, and there was a dramatic decrease in the casualties caused by terrorist attacks attributed to Houthi extremists: total deaths declined 62%, total injuries declined 67%, and the number of people kidnapped or taken hostage declined 65% between 2015 and 2016.
  • Note, however, that terrorist attacks by Houthi extremists increased in Saudi Arabia in 2016. There were 56 attacks carried out by Houthi extremists in Saudi Arabia, compared to nine in 2015. The majority of these attacks (80%) involve explosive projectiles (e.g., rockets, mortars) fired at civilian and military targets.
  • While ISIS was responsible for 19% fewer terrorist attacks in Syria (122 in 2016 compared to 150 in 2015), the number of attacks carried out by ISIS in Iraq increased by 20% (932 in 2016 compared to 775 in 2015). The lethality of these attacks increased 69% (7,338 total deaths in 2016, compared to 4,341 in 2015).
  • Furthermore, the geographic reach of attacks by ISIS and its affiliates continued to grow in 2016. The number of attacks attributed to ISIS outside of Iraq and Syria increased 80%, from 44 in 2015 to 79 in 2016. This does not include attacks attributed to other organizations that have pledged allegiance to ISIS. In addition to Boko Haram in West Africa, the most active of these ISIS affiliates were located in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.

TACTICS and WEAPONS

Each recorded terrorist attack involves one or more tactics in a continuous sequence of actions. Shown in Figure 2, the most commonly used tactic in 2016 involved explosives (54%), followed by armed assaults (21%), which almost always involved firearms.

Figure 2: Tactics used in terrorist attacks worldwide, 2016

Date: 07/17/2017 Description: Figure 2: Tactics used in terrorist attacks worldwide, 2016 - State Dept Image

  • In addition to the tactics shown in Figure 2, there were 64 unarmed assaults in 2016 – attacks aimed at harming people, without the use of explosives or firearms. Unarmed assaults primarily involved melee weapons, chemical weapons, or vehicles as weapons. There were also 40 hijackings carried out in 2016, primarily targeting cars, trucks, and buses as well as several boats and cargo ships. Each of these tactics comprised less than one percent of attacks.
  • The lethality of terrorist tactics varied considerably. On average, attacks in which hostages were taken were by far the deadliest in 2016 – both kidnappings and barricade incidents resulted in seven deaths per attack. The tactics that were least likely to be deadly were unarmed assaults (79% nonlethal) and facility or infrastructure attacks (97% nonlethal).
  • The number of suicide attacks decreased by 4%, from 724 in 2015, to 692 in 2016. Suicide attacks in 2016 killed 7,310 people, including 2,360 perpetrators. Although these attacks took place in 26 countries, 40% took place in Iraq. On average, suicide attacks in 2016 were 5.8 times as lethal as non-suicide attacks.
  • Both tactics and specific types of weapons used in terrorist attacks were remarkably consistent between 2015 and 2016, with the exception of the use of vehicles as contact weapons (as opposed to VBIEDs). The use of vehicles to drive into targets, either as the sole weapon or in combination with other weapons, remained extremely rare in 2016. Vehicles comprised 0.13% of all weapons used in 2016 – they were used in 14 attacks, down from 29 attacks in 2015. However, the lethality of these attacks increased 296%, as they resulted in more than 110 deaths in 2016, compared to 28 in 2015.

TARGETS

Each attack in the Statistical Annex dataset includes information on up to three different targets and/or victims. Fewer than 1,000 terrorist attacks in 2016 involved multiple types of targets.

  • More than half of all targets attacked in 2016 (59%) were classified as either private citizens and property or police, as shown in Table 4. Terrorist attacks targeting private citizens and property were particularly prevalent in Cameroon (80%), Syria (73%), Israel (72%), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (69%).

Table 4: Targets of terrorist attacks worldwide, 2016

Target Type

Number of Targets

Private Citizens & Property

4734

Police

1760

Government (General)

1016

Business

946

Military

558

Terrorists/Non-State Militia

366

Utilities

344

Religious Figures/Institutions

292

Educational Institution

232

Transportation

228

Other

142

Journalists & Media

125

Government (Diplomatic)

92

Violent Political Party

74

NGO

52

Telecommunication

50

Maritime

33

Airports & Airlines

32

Food or Water Supply

12

Tourists

11

Abortion Related

1

Total

11100

  • Attacks targeting police were most frequently aimed at police buildings, checkpoints, and officers or security forces, and were most prevalent in Egypt (59%), Russia (55%), and Kenya (41%).
  • The overall decline in terrorism between 2015 and 2016 impacted nearly all types of targets, with few exceptions. These include attacks against utilities, which increased 32% in 2016, and attacks against maritime targets which, although relatively rare, increased 313%.