According to a recent report, over 400 people have lost their lives in Islamist attacks carried out by jihadists in western countries since December 2014. This period follows the declaration of a “caliphate” by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in parts of Syria and Iraq in June 2014.
The report looked at attacks motivated by the Islamist ideology, attacks that involved intentional, large-scale acts of violence against civilians and acts intended to intimidate or express a message to a larger group, all three of which would fit neatly within categories of ‘terrorist’ as commonly accepted.
Although most of the Islamist attacks occur elsewhere in the world, an unparalleled number of attacks have taken place in Europe and North America – more than 50 in total.
These findings are part of a report by ISPI, George Washington’s Program on Extremism and the International Centre for Counter-terrorism in The Hague, conducted by Dr Vidino, along with Dr Francesco Marone and Eva Entenmann
Who are the attackers?
According to findings, the average age of the perpetrators is 27.
- The youngest attacker is a 15-year-old boy who has remained unnamed who battered a Jewish teacher in Marseilles with a machete. Another attacker, also aged 15, is a girl who stabbed a police officer at a train station in Hannover.
- The majority of the attackers are in their 20s, with a quarter being in their 30s and a third being 40 or older.
- Khalid Masood, who drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, London, is the oldest attacker at 52.
- Whilst women are becoming more engaged online in jihadist networks, only 2 out of 65 of the attackers were female.
Who are the victims?
The 52 attacks that took place between December 2014 and early June 2017 saw 403 people die and more than 1600 people injured (which do not include perpetrators).
- The deadliest Islamist terrorist attack took place in Paris, an attack which saw 130 people die.
- The second deadliest occurred in Nice, in which 86 people were killed.
- In Orlando, 49 people were murdered by Omar Mateen in an attack on a gay nightclub.
- In Brussels, 32 people were killed after bomb attacks at Brussels airport and at a metro station.
- The recent Manchester Arena attack led to the death of 22 people including many children, after 22 year-old Salman Ramadan Abedi detonated a suicide bomb.
- 14 people were murdered when 28 year-old Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, 27 year-old Tashfeen Malik, carried out a shooting at a Christmas party in San Bernardino, California.
- In Berlin, 12 people were killed after tunisian Anis Amri drove a lorry in a Christmas market.
- 12 people were killed at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 by Cherif and Said Kouachi
- Last month’s attack in London saw 8 people killed after Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouana and Youssef Zaghba rammed a vehicle into pedestrians followed by a stabbing attack.
- 5 people were killed after Khalid Masood drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London and stabbed a police officer to death.
What role has ISIS played?
- Out of the four deadliest attacks, two of those were known to have been orchestrated by ISIS – the attacks in Paris and the one in Brussels.
- Nevertheless, the most deadly attacks among the others – the Nice attack and the Orlando attack – were independent attacks which were apparently inspired by ISIS (as opposed to being coordinated by ISIS).
- Of the attacks that have taken place in the West since June 2014, only 10% of attacks were directly orchestrated by ISIS.
- However, the influence of ISIS and it’s ideology is evident in the attacks.
- 60% of attacks saw the perpetrators pledge allegiance to ISIS – either before or after the act – signalling the increased extent of their involvement if only through their particular brand of Islamist ideology.