The tenth edition of the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) offers a comprehensive overview of global terrorism trends over the past decade. It assesses not only fatalities but also takes into account incidents, hostages, and injuries from terrorism, weighted over a five-year span.
Produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), the GTI report relies on data from sources including TerrorismTracker. This dataset encompasses nearly 66,000 terrorist incidents spanning from January 1, 2007 to 2022.
In 2022, terrorism-related deaths decreased by nine percent to 6,701, marking a 38 percent drop from its 2015 peak. This decline in fatalities was accompanied by a nearly 28 percent reduction in the number of incidents, from 5,463 in 2021 to 3,955 in 2022. However, if Afghanistan were excluded from the analysis, terrorism-related deaths would have risen by four percent.
Despite a 75 percent decrease in attacks and a 58 percent decrease in fatalities, Afghanistan remained the most heavily affected country by terrorism for the fourth consecutive year. It’s worth noting that the GTI does not cover acts of state repression or violence by state actors. Consequently, actions carried out by the Taliban since assuming control of the government are not included in the report’s scope.
In 2022, the most lethal terrorist groups were Islamic State (IS) and its affiliates, followed by al-Shabaab, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), and Jamaat Nusrat Al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM).
IS maintained its status as the deadliest terror group globally for the eighth year running, accounting for the highest number of attacks and fatalities in 2022. However, deaths attributed to IS and its affiliated groups, such as Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISK), Islamic State – Sinai Province (ISS), and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), decreased by 16 percent. Notably, the number of deaths caused by unknown jihadists in countries where ISWA operates increased significantly since 2017, surging 17-fold to 1,766 deaths. Many of these are likely unclaimed attacks by ISWA. If most of these deaths were attributed to IS, the overall outcome would have resembled that of 2021. In 2022, IS was responsible for deaths in 18 countries, a slight decrease from 20 countries the previous year.
After substantial decreases in terrorism from 2015 to 2019, progress has stalled over the last three years. The number of countries experiencing terrorism-related deaths has remained nearly constant, ranging from 43 in 2020 to 42 in 2022, down from the peak of 56 countries in 2015. The balance between countries experiencing increases and decreases in terrorism-related deaths also remained relatively steady in 2022, with 25 countries seeing reductions and 24 experiencing increases. While the overall change has been minimal, many countries have witnessed sharp fluctuations in terrorism during this period, notably Niger, Myanmar, and Iraq.
Terrorist attacks became more deadly in 2022, averaging 1.7 fatalities per attack compared to 1.3 in 2021. This marks the first increase in lethality rate in five years.
The primary driver of terrorism remains violent conflict, with over 88 percent of attacks and 98 percent of terrorism-related deaths in 2022 occurring in conflict-affected countries. All ten countries most affected by terrorism in 2022 were also embroiled in armed conflicts. Attacks in conflict-affected countries are seven times deadlier than those in peaceful nations.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s Sahel region has now become the epicenter of terrorism, surpassing both South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) combined in terms of terrorism-related deaths in 2022. Deaths in the Sahel accounted for 43 percent of the global total, a stark contrast to just one percent in 2007. Burkina Faso and Mali are of particular concern, together constituting 73 percent of terrorism-related deaths in the Sahel in 2022 and 52 percent of all sub-Saharan Africa deaths. Both countries experienced significant increases in terrorism-related deaths, with Burkina Faso seeing a 50 percent rise to 1,135 and Mali a 56 percent increase to 944. These countries also witnessed an uptick in lethality, with the number of fatalities per attack rising by 48 percent from 2021. The majority of attacks in these nations are attributed to unknown jihadists, although both IS and JNIM operate there. The escalation in violence in Burkina Faso has also spilled over into neighboring countries, with Togo and Benin experiencing their highest GTI scores on record.
Terrorism in the Sahel has witnessed a staggering 2,000 percent increase in the last 15 years. The political situation in the region exacerbates this rise, with six coup attempts since 2021, four of which succeeded. The underlying drivers are multifaceted and systemic, including issues like poor water management, food scarcity, ethnic tensions, rapid population growth, external interventions, geopolitical rivalries, pastoral conflicts, the spread of transnational Salafi-Islam ideology, and weak governance. Most terrorist activity occurs in border areas where government control is weakest. Notably, of the 830 million people globally facing food insecurity, 58 percent reside in the 20 most terrorism-affected countries. Adding to the complexity, many criminal organizations increasingly present themselves as Islamic insurgents, accounting for some attacks attributed to unknown jihadists.
North America saw the most significant regional improvement in score, while sub-Saharan Africa recorded the most substantial deterioration. North America encompasses only two countries, the US and Canada, neither of which scored high. However, it’s the only region without any countries receiving a nil GTI score.
Sub-Saharan Africa saw the largest surge in terrorism-related deaths, rising by eight percent. Sixty percent, or 4,023, of all such deaths globally occurred in this region. Four of the ten countries experiencing the most significant declines in GTI score are located in sub-Saharan Africa: Togo, Djibouti, Central African Republic, and Benin. Terrorism-related deaths in the region increased by eight percent, reversing the slight improvement noted in 2021.
In the MENA region, there were only 791 deaths in 2022, a 32 percent decrease and the lowest number since 2013. Attacks nearly halved from 1,331 in 2021 to 695 in 2022. This shift underscores the changing dynamics in terrorism, with the region’s share of global terrorism deaths dropping from 57 percent in 2016 to just 12 percent in 2022. There was also a significant reduction in suicide bombings in MENA. In 2016, suicide bombings resulted in 1,947 deaths; whereas in 2022, MENA reported only six suicide bombings resulting in eight deaths.
South Asia maintained its status as the region with the highest average GTI score in 2022. The region recorded 1,354 terrorism-related deaths in 2022, a 30 percent decrease compared to the previous year. However, if the improvements in Afghanistan were excluded, terrorism-related deaths would have surged by 71 percent. In Afghanistan, both the Khorasan chapter of IS and the emerging National Resistance Front (NRF) pose serious threats. Afghanistan and Pakistan remained among the ten countries most affected by terrorism in 2022, with deaths in Pakistan spiking significantly to