Global Terrorism
December 6, 2019
Is domestic violence now the biggest threat?

The lethality and frequency of international terrorism has declined steadily since 2014, although militant jihadist ideology continues to inspire “homegrown” terrorists in the United States and elsewhere. Today, there is growing concern in many countries about domestic terrorism, most of it at the hands of white supremacists and nationalists. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security now includes white supremacist violence on its list of priority counterterrorism targets, and Congress is considering legislation making domestic terrorism a federal crime. Some believe President Trump’s rhetoric encourages extremist violence, an accusation he vigorously denies. Meanwhile, the U.N. secretary-general has declared cyberterrorism — using social media and hidden internet sites to spread propaganda, recruit followers and coordinate attacks — the “new frontier” among global threats, and major tech firms have joined to battle them.

Sri Lankan soldiers on May 25 search for the terrorist group that bombed churches and hotels on Easter Sunday, killing at least 250. ISIS claimed its fighters carried out the attacks. (AFP/Getty Images/Lakruwan Wanniarachchi) Sri Lankan soldiers on May 25 search for the terrorist group that bombed churches and hotels on Easter Sunday, killing at least 250. ISIS claimed its fighters carried out the attacks. (AFP/Getty Images/Lakruwan Wanniarachchi)

There were more than 9,600 terrorist attacks around the world in 2018, killing some 23,000 people, according to the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). 1

While sobering, the statistics represent the fourth consecutive year of decline in terrorist attacks and their fatalities. In the peak year of 2014, nearly 17,000 attacks and more than 45,000 deaths occurred. START, whose research is supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other government agencies, said the number of attacks worldwide dropped 43 percent between 2014 and 2018 and deaths declined 48 percent.

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