Up to 30 000 foreign fighters, from as many as 100 countries, have travelled to Syria and Iraq since 2011, according to an independent analysis.
Half came from neighbouring countries and North Africa, and a quarter from Europe and Turkey, says the Global Terrorism Index, drawn up by the Institute for Economics and Peace think-tank.
The flow of foreign fighters doesn’t seem to be diminishing; more than 7 000 arrived in the first half of 2015.
Terrorism claimed the lives of 32 658 people last year, an 80% increase on 2013, it says. It calculates that the total economic cost amounted to an all-time high of $52.9-billion last year.
The Islamic State and Boko Haram were responsible for 51% of all claimed terror-related fatalities in 2014, the analysis finds. Iraq remained the country most affected by terrorism, with 9 929 fatalities.
The think-tank described the Islamic State as “effectively acting as a state”, raising funds through a taxation system estimated to be worth $11-million a month and oil sales estimated to exceed $500-million a year.
Five countries among hardest hit
Nigeria experienced the largest increase in terrorist attacks and lost 7 512 lives in 2014, an increase of more than 300% since 2013.
Seventy-eight percent of all deaths and 57% of all attacks around the world occurred in five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, according to the survey.
The report said it was important to place the figures in context with other forms of violence. At least 437 000 people are murdered each year, more than 13 times the number of victims of terrorism.
Steve Killelea, the think-tank’s executive chairman, said: “What is most striking from our analysis is how the drivers of terrorism differ between more and less developed countries.”
“In the West, socioeconomic factors such as youth unemployment and drug crime correlate with terrorism. In countries not affiliated to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, terrorism shows stronger associations with ongoing conflict, corruption and violence.” – © Guardian News & Media 2015
Survivors dragged bodies to safety
No one has washed the blood off the street outside the back of the Bataclan theatre where killers slaughtered 89 and wounded so many more, some of whom are among the 99 still struggling for life in Paris hospitals.
The tell-tale dark splashes of human bleeding lead from the stage door some 180m away to a post office where on Friday night wounded survivors fled for protection. Police tarpaulins cover the pavement. The ritzy bus that had transported the rock band to play at Friday night’s concert is still outside. Its driver’s window is shattered.
The colourful upper floors of Bataclan’s building look as though nothing happened below. But Caroline, a local resident, described what she saw that night. She told of how, upon hearing the mayhem, she had crept out of her third-floor flat beside the Bataclan and gone to the stage door, as more and more screaming and panicked people rushed out of it.
She saw one young man dragging the body of his friend out along the street. Others followed, dragging the bodies of strangers and loved ones alike, down another alleyway. No one wanted to leave behind the body of a person they had loved. She managed to get into the back of the Bataclan to the office where her neighbours worked – 12 of them.
There were bodies everywhere, amid blood and continuing panic, as people tried to force their way out. She recognised the body of the deputy manager, whom she knew well as a friend. But there was nothing she could constructively do.
She ran out with the others, peeling off to enter the sanctuary of her own building. “Don’t let anyone else in,” screamed a man inside. “We have no idea if the killers may try to come in too.”
Caroline has hardly slept since last Friday. She is receiving counselling as are so many other people. She cries a lot. She doesn’t want to live here any more. Her world has been wrecked. – Jon Snow is news anchor for the United Kingdom’s Channel 4