Afghanistan remained the country most impacted by terrorism for the fourth consecutive year, despite attacks and deaths falling by 75 percent and 58 percent respectively, the latest edition of the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) indicated.
The report, produced by the Institute for Economic & Peace (IEP), was released Tuesday and provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism.
According to the report, in 2022, deaths from terrorism around the world fell by nine percent to 6,701 deaths and is now 38 percent lower than at its peak in 2015.
The report stated however, that the Index does not include acts of state repression and violence by state actors and, as such, acts committed by the Taliban are no longer included in the scope of the report since they took control of the government.
The GTI said Afghanistan recorded 633 deaths in 2022 – although terrorism deaths fell by 866 in the country in 2022, a 58 percent improvement against 2021.
“Afghanistan’s drop can largely be attributed to the Taliban taking control of the country after the fall of Kabul in August 2021,” the report said. “As the Taliban are now the state actor in much of Afghanistan, their attacks fall outside the scope of the GTI’s definition of terrorism.”
The report noted that out of all the deaths caused by terrorism worldwide in 2022, about 9 percent occurred in Afghanistan, a decrease from the 20 percent recorded the previous year.
However, GTI reports that the Islamic State-Khorasan (Daesh) has emerged as “the most active terrorist group” in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country, and were responsible for the deaths of 422 people in 2022 – accounting for almost 67 percent of total terrorism-related deaths in the country for the year.
Last year, terrorism was widespread in Afghanistan with terrorist incidents recorded in 26 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. GTI stated that although Kabul remained the province most affected by terrorism for the ninth consecutive year, the number of deaths there more than halved from 549 in 2021 to 217 in 2022. The number of suicide bombings also decreased significantly in 2022, with only seven suicide bombings recorded compared to 11 in 2021.
The total number of deaths caused by these bombings was 78, which is a 72 percent decline from the 276 deaths recorded the previous year. In 2022, bombings were the deadliest form of terrorist attack and resulted in the deaths of 434 people, compared to 186 fatalities caused by armed attacks.
GTI meanwhile stated that ISK – or Daesh – “is likely to exploit tensions between Afghans and the Taliban to bolster their numbers, as the Taliban struggles to provide adequate food supplies and maintain the economy.”
Since they took power, more than 90 percent of the population has been suffering from some form of food insecurity. This is exacerbated by Western suspension of aid and international organizations, which had been crucial to the economy and public health sector, GTI reported.
“Additionally, counter-terrorism agencies remain concerned that the Taliban may be supporting terrorist organizations, particularly al-Qaeda, and that Afghanistan could become a safe haven for terrorists,” the report stated.
“The perceived state support of terrorism could further prevent Afghanistan from accessing international markets, or the aid needed to provide food and health care services to its citizens, further exacerbating its humanitarian crisis,” GTI warned.
Pakistan meanwhile recorded the second largest increase in terrorism-related deaths in 2022, with the toll rising significantly to 643, a 120 percent rise from the 292 deaths the previous year. Pakistan also recorded more terrorism-related deaths last year than Afghanistan.
The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) was also reported to be the fastest growing terrorist organization in the world and was responsible for 233 deaths in 2022, a ninefold increase. The GTI noted that the BLA had overtaken the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as the deadliest terrorist group in Pakistan.
The number of fatalities in Pakistan represented the largest year-on-year increase in the last decade, with 55 percent of all terror-related victims being military personnel. The South Asian nation moved up four places to sixth on the index due to the sharp increase in fatalities, according to the GTI.
The GTI noted that terrorism remains primarily concentrated along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, with 63 percent of attacks and 74 percent of deaths occurring in that area.
Pakistan’s deadliest terrorist attack of 2022 occurred when gunmen bombed and shot at two separate security posts for the Frontier Corps in Balochistan province in February 2022. No official death toll was confirmed, however a statement from the BLA claimed responsibility for the attacks and that they had killed 195 soldiers across both attacks. GTI stated this was the deadliest terrorist attack globally in 2022.GTI however warned that now that the Taliban are in control of Afghanistan, and amid reports suggesting leaders of terrorist groups such as TTP are using Afghanistan as a safe haven, “it is likely that terrorist activity will continue along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border despite counter-terrorism efforts.”