Global Terrorism Index (GTI)

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    • The 2023 edition of the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) was recently released.

    About the Global Terrorism Index (GTI)

    • About:
      • The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) is a comprehensive study analysing the impact of terrorism for 163 countries covering 99.7 percent of the world’s population.
      • The GTI report is produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) using data from Terrorism Tracker and other sources. 
    • GTI Score:
      • The GTI produces a composite score so as to provide an ordinal ranking of countries on the impact of terrorism. 
      • The GTI scores each country on a scale from 0 to 10
        • Where 0 represents no impact from terrorism and 10 represents the highest measurable impact of terrorism.
      • The GTI considers deaths, incidents, hostages and injuries from terrorism. 
    • Aim:
      • Given the significant resources committed to counter terrorism by governments across the world, it is important to analyse and aggregate the available data to better understand its various properties. 
        • One of the key aims of the GTI is to examine these trends
      • It also aims to help inform a positive, practical debate about the future of terrorism and the required policy responses.

    Key findings from the Global Terrorism Index 2023 report

    • Deaths & attacks of terrorism:
      • Terrorist attacks and deaths caused by them decreased by 28 per cent and 9 per cent respectively, but average deaths per attack increased from 1.3 to 1.7 from the previous year in 2022. 
        • Attacks have become more deadly with the lethality rising by 26%.
          • This is attributed to the Taliban’s transition from terror group to state actor
          • Afghanistan continues to be the country most affected by terrorism.
      • Outside Afghanistan, terrorism deaths rose 4% in the rest of the world.
    • Islamic State (IS) – the deadliest terrorist group:
      • Islamic State (IS) and its affiliates remained the world’s deadliest terrorist group in 2022 for the eighth consecutive year, with attacks in 21 countries.
    • Sahel and Af-Pak region:
      • Deaths from attacks by unknown Jihadists globally are eight times higher than 2017, representing 32% of all terrorism deaths and 18 times higher in the Sahel.
      • The Sahel is the most impacted region, representing 43% of global terrorism deaths, 7% more than the year prior.
      • Jihadi upheavals in the Sahel and Af-Pak region remain key drivers of the increase in lethality.
    • Global trends:
      • Declining terrorism in the West is met with intensified attacks in other regions.
      • Far-right extremist groups are gaining ground in Europe and North America.
      • Terrorism thrives in countries with poor ecologies and climate induced shocks.
    • Formalisation of terrorism:
      • Many states continue to use armed non-state actors for their own objectives, indicating a worrying trend in the formalisation of terrorism.
    • Technology use:
      • Drone technology and its use continues to rapidly evolve, especially with groups such as IS, Boko Haram and Houthis.

    Terrorism in Sahel & Af-Pak region

    • About the Sahel region:
      • The Sahel is a thin stretch of semi-arid land from Africa’s west coast to Ethiopia’s mountains in the east, dividing the Sahara Desert from the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. 
      • It passes through all the states in its way where there is no proper governance, and the people suffer from poverty, extreme malnutrition, regular famines and environmental degradation
      • It is a perfect breeding ground for extremist ideologies whose demographic is also conducive to spreading Salafi-jihadism.

    • Terrorism in the region:
      • The Horn of Africa, the Sahel, Afghanistan and Pakistan have emerged as significant theatres in the terrorism landscape after the subsidence of the Syrian civil war and in the aftermath of the Taliban’s victory
      • There is an increasingly growing ideological and political competition among the affiliates of al-Qaeda and Da’esh in these regions. 
      • The social and political stresses that this dynamic is bringing to the Horn of Africa, Sahel, and the newly proclaimed Islamic Emirate of the Taliban in Afghanistan, have implications for Pakistan that are detrimental to India’s national security and the wider world.

    State sponsored terrorism

    • States have been employing armed non-state actors to further their otherwise questionable objectives. For example,
    • Russia & Ukraine:
      • Violent extremists are belligerents to the ongoing war in Ukraine
      • Chechen fighters who once declared ‘jihad’ against Moscow are fighting for Russia under Ramzan Kadyrov’s leadership. 
      • Islamists who are upset with this and are against Russia have been fighting for Ukraine.
    • Turkey:
      • Turkey allegedly backs Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a breakaway from Da’esh, in Syria because they serve as a proxy to their regional interests.
    • China:
      • China is also increasingly deploying its Private military and security company (PMSC) along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for security purposes.
      • The Chinese, though warily, are courting the Taliban to fulfil their interests in the region.
    • Pakistan:
      • Pakistan, a long-time proven state sponsor of terrorism, is having to deal with the ghosts that have come back to haunt them in the form of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). 
    • This trend in the formalisation of terrorist and violent extremist groups by legitimate nation-states does not seem to wane any time soon, which is quite alarming.

    Implications for India

    • Kashmir:
      • The security situation in Kashmir did take a turn for the good after the abrogation of Article 370 with respect to organised terror, but new challenges emerged in the form rise in lone-wolf attacks and increased use of drones for cross-border terrorism.
    • Sikh separatism:
      • The dormant sentiments of Sikh separatism are increasingly showing signs of revival, with the socio-political situation in Punjab taking a radical turn.
    • Cross-border narco-terror networks:
      • In both Kashmir and Punjab, a growing trend of increased drug abuse is fuelled by cross-border narco-terror networks.
    • Terror drones:
      • India is still not adequately equipped to tackle the challenge of terror drones, whose sightings had multiplied significantly in 2022.

    Way ahead

    • All nations worldwide must keep up with their counter-terrorism efforts and address real or perceived grievances that make radicalisation possible.
    • On the virtue of India’s chairmanship of the UNSC’s Counter-Terrorism Committee and its joining of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) concentrating on extensive Counter-Terrorism cooperation through its Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), it can take the leading role in tackling terrorist challenges.

    Source: IDSA