Almost 18 000 people were killed in terrorist attacks in 2013, a 61 percent increase from 2012. Last year the world witnessed in horror, the rise of ISIS and their barbaric tactics; 17 891 people died globally at the hands of cowardly terrorists.
Four terrorist groups, the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Boko Haram were responsible for two thirds of all such deaths around the globe. The Global Terrorism Index, produced by the London-based Institute for Economics and Peace, also found that 80 percent of terrorist attack fatalities occurred in only five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria.
Since the turn of the millennium, the number of deaths due to terrorist activities has increased fivefold, many motivated by political and jihadist agendas (though the liberal media is always reticent to acknowledge that most of these acts of terror are all carried out by Muslims).
Globally, even in the West, there has been a sharp increase in the number of terrorist attacks, however, nearly 50 percent of them did not claim any lives as they were either foiled, or contained by police and military personnel. Since 2000, the Taliban has been responsible for the most deaths, 8763, from terror attacks, closely followed by Al-Qaeda with 8585.
A shared religious agenda
That being said, the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL) and Boko Haram both became more active in 2009, which was the first year that either group killed over 300 people. Based on data up to the end of 2014, these two wealthy terrorist groups have killed in excess of 30 000 people in four years!
As the world’s attention has been hijacked by ISIS by their brutal and provocative beheadings, Boko Haram has run rampant in Nigeria, killing innocents, kidnapping young girls and forcing Christians into Islamic slavery and human trafficking.
“There is no doubt it is a growing problem. The causes are complex but the four groups responsible for most of the deaths all have their roots in fundamentalist Islam,” notes the Institute for Economics and Peace founder Steve Killelea. “They are particularly angry about the spread of Western education. That makes any attempt at the kind of social mobilising you need to stop them particularly difficult - it can just antagonise them more,” he further explained.
The report states that, “The rise in terrorist activity coincided with the US invasion of Iraq. This created large power vacuums in the country allowing different factions to surface and become violent.”
Tactics used by attackers
In Iraq, bombings are one of the tactics almost exclusively used by terrorist groups, with this method accounting for 87 percent of deaths and 97 percent of injuries. Suicide attacks also continue to be used, with a very high cost to human life - an average of over seven deaths per suicide attack. Since 2000, suicide attacks have caused 5 percent of deaths in terror activities, and this modus operandi is most favoured by militant group Hamas. This terrorist Palestinian organisation has carried out 195 attacks, 24 percent of which have been suicide missions.
According to data, 60 percent of attacks involved explosives, 20 percent firearms and 10 percent through other actions, such as arson or attacks with motor vehicles. And yet the US government and many of the United Nations’ members continue to ignore the facts and endorse Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood (and by default, their express desire to “wipe Israel off the face of the earth”). As the saying goes, there is none so blind as he who will not see.
from caves, to internet cafes.
Since the civil war in Syria started in 2011, there has been a massive increase in terror activity. Though political gripes have been a huge catalyst in the proliferation of terror in these war-torn countries, both Syria and Iraq have witnessed religious struggles between Sunni and Shia Muslims, which has led to massive violence. Religion as a driving ideology for terrorism has dramatically increased since 2000; prior to 2000 nationalist separatist agendas were the biggest motivators of terrorist organisations.
Over 24 nations across the world have been rocked by widespread terrorism endeavours, including Israel, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Turkey, America, France, Spain, Nigeria, Kenya, Ukraine, England and the list goes on. No-one is immune - terrorism is no longer a “Middle East” problem, the terrorists have moved and multiplied from the caves of Afghanistan to the internet cafés of Paris.
Why such popularity?
There are multiple factors influencing the burgeoning popularity of terrorist movements, so it is difficult to pinpoint just one or two. Having said that, we as Christ-ians know that there are forces of evil working on the earth and that in the last days lawlessness and sin will abound.
The clash of Islamic ideology with principles of democracy, free speech, freedom of religion and peaceful co-existence, has also claimed centre stage. Even within Islam, a battle is taking place between “moderates” and “extremists”. The religion is undergoing its own internal crisis as the world looks on...but...one has to ask, why have the “moderates” not taken a definitive stand against the acts of terror? Why have Imams remained silent? When a secular-Arab state such as Turkey, run by an Islamic leader, actively blocks efforts to thwart terrorism, you have to wonder what the underlying pillar of “moderate” belief really is...
What makes a terrorist?
But how do we account for the scores of Western teens participating in jihadist attacks? Bored, disenfranchised youth with limited employment opportunities, coming out of broken homes, seem to be the target market of terrorists the world over. Many Western terrorist-sympathisers claim to be taking a stand against political hegemony, but this is often just a smokescreen - as no act of terror could ever validate a cause or lend credence to a campaign.
As Christians, we recognise the role that a nuclear family, led by a present and loving father plays - an absence often existent in the families of potential terrorists. The inference of the moral concepts of right and wrong, have often been skewed or lacking in the lives of jihadists, and of course, the thrill of power, invincibility and lawlessness remains a universal drawcard to youths across the decades and the diaspora.
How is the world responding?
Despite America and the West spending tens of billions of dollars on counterterrorism operations, statistics show that only seven percent of terrorist groups have been quelled due to military action. The majority of terrorist groups ended by joining the political process, or were destroyed by active policing and intelligence agencies breaking up the group and either arresting or killing key members. Military force in of itself was rarely responsible for ending terrorist groups, a report published in the General Terrorism Index (GTI), stated.
Many terrorist groups proliferate through technology, and it is interesting to note that the tactics for counter-terrorism have included cyber-attacks, shutting down twitter and facebook accounts of terrorists, and infiltrating jihadist social networks through scams. While these strategies certainly can play a role in reducing the impact of terrorists, the only lasting way to halt the violence, is to adopt a
spiritual plan of attack.
How should we respond?
Redeemed hearts, saved souls and cleansed motives in the hearts of men and women, is the only sure way to stop potential terrorists emerging. You, as an individual, have a part to play in this “war on terror”. Your weapons of warfare are spiritual: tactical ongoing prayer for nations, leaders and against terrorism, is vital. Revival amongst the youth and the disenchanted is critical.
Support missionaries and evangelists working in these lands, give to their cause so that the Gospel may be spread and reach every cave, every café and every couch.
Creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom 8:19) - as believers, we need to take charge! God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:17); what is impossible with man, is possible with God (Luke 18:27); greater is He that is in us, than he that is against us (1 John 4:4). Speak to your church and decide to make regular prayer for terrorists a priority!
Compiled by Jackie Georgiou