Terrorism
July 31, 2017
Can policymakers stop the spread of international groups?

As a U.S.-led coalition has pushed the Islamist terrorist group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS, from its self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria and Iraq, its sympathizers have carried out devastating attacks in Europe, notably in Nice, France, in July 2016; in Berlin, Germany, in December and in London in June 2017. As ISIS’ power in the Middle East wanes, experts say, it will be increasingly difficult to prevent foreign fighters from returning home and perpetrating violence. Meanwhile, al Qaeda is quietly resurging in Afghanistan, nearly 16 years after U.S.-led forces invaded to eradicate the group that carried out the 9/11 attacks in the United States. Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups are expanding into other countries, but most terrorism deaths in 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, occurred in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria.

The coffin of 14-year-old Eilidh MacLeod, a victim of the May 22, 2017, terrorist bombing in Manchester, England, is carried from an airplane on June 4 to his grieving hometown in Barra, Scotland. (Getty Images/WPA Pool/Andrew Milligan)   The coffin of 14-year-old Eilidh MacLeod, a victim of the May 22, 2017, terrorist bombing in Manchester, England, is carried from an airplane on June 4 to his grieving hometown in Barra, Scotland. The Islamist group ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert. (Getty Images/WPA Pool/Andrew Milligan)

Thus far, there have been 662 terrorist attacks worldwide this year, killing 4,325 people. That compares to 1,441 attacks that killed 14,356 people in all of 2016, according to data compiled by PeaceTech Lab, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., and Esri, a Redlands, Calif.-based geospatial software company. The Islamic State and its affiliates have claimed responsibility for 37 percent of the 2017 deaths. 1

A steady dose of airstrikes and advances by the Iraqi army and Kurdish fighters has helped a U.S.-backed coalition recapture more than 55 percent of the territory once held by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in May. 2 The United States and its allies have killed more than 60,000 ISIS fighters in nearly three years of fighting. 3

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