Crime & Justice

Sahel was global extremism epicenter in 2021: Global Terrorism Index

London, Mar 2 (EFE).- Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially the Sahel, recorded 48 percent of all extremist deaths globally in 2021, attributed to groups affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) terror group, while attacks declined by 68 percent in Western countries, where they were motivated more by political views than religious reasons.

The ninth edition of the Global Terrorism Index, released on Wednesday, indicates that deaths from terrorism fell 1.2 percent last year, to 7,142, while attacks increased 17 percent to 5,226, which shows that “attacks became less deadly in 2021.”

According to the report prepared by the Australian Institute for Economics and Peace, extremism is increasingly concentrated in conflict zones – where 97.6 percent of deaths from terrorism occurred -, with Afghanistan as the country with the highest impact from extremism, followed by Iraq, Somalia, Burkina Faso, Syria, Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Myanmar and Pakistan, out of the 163 countries included in the analysis.

In European countries, as well as in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, there are five times more attacks motivated by far-left and far-right extremist ideologies than religiously motivated ones.

Following military defeats in Syria and Iraq, IS has focused in the Sahel, where deaths from extremism have increased tenfold since 2007, especially in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, according to the researchers.

This increasing violence in the Sahel is an outcome of strong population growth, the lack of water and food, the impact of climate change and weak governments, IEP founder, Steve Killelea, said in an interview with EFE.

Among the developed countries, the impact of extremism was felt most in the United States, placed 28th in the index, followed by Greece (29), Israel (30), the United Kingdom (31), Germany (33), France (35) and Spain (55).

The largest increase in extremist deaths in 2021 was recorded in Myanmar, where the number of people killed went from 24 in 2020 to 521, followed by Niger (257 to 588).

The biggest decline in deaths from extremism was recorded in Mozambique – 82 percent – to 414, on account of counter-insurgency operations against IS by the Mozambican forces.

IS overtook the Taliban to become “the deadliest extremist group in 2021” although deaths attributed to the group and its affiliates fell from 2,100 to 2,066, the report said.

The deadliest attack last year was committed by an IS suicide bomber on Aug. 26 against the Kabul International Airport, which left 170 people dead and more than 200 wounded.

Among IS affiliates, the Jamaat Nusrat Al-Islam wal Muslimeen, which operates in the Sahel, was the “fastest growing terrorist organization” in 2021 and responsible for 351 deaths, up 69 percent.

Last year, there were 113 attacks in Europe – three by Islamic extremists, the lowest number since 2012 – and seven in the US, which recorded its lowest GTI score since 2015.

Religious extremism in the West decreased by 82 percent and there were 40 politically motivated attacks against three religiously motivated attacks, the study said. EFE


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