Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Report
May 30, 2013

Statistical Information on Terrorism in 2012

Title 22, Section 2656f of the United States Code requires the Department of State to include in its annual report on terrorism "to the extent practicable, complete statistical information on the number of individuals, including United States citizens and dual nationals, killed, injured, or kidnapped by each terrorist group during the preceding calendar year." The definition found in Title 22 of the US Code provides that terrorism is “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.” From 2004 to 2011, the data for the Annex of Statistical Information were collected by the National Counterterrorism Center, part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, through the Worldwide Incidents Tracking System (WITS).

In June 2012, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) contracted with the US Department of State to collect a Statistical Annex data set and provide a report to include in the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism 2012. Since 2001, START has maintained the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), an unclassified event database compiled from information in open-source reports of terrorist attacks. The first version of the GTD was released in 2006 and included information on worldwide terrorism from 1970 to 1997. START consistently updates and improves the accuracy of the data. The full GTD (1970-2011) and accompanying documentation are available to the public at www.start.umd.edu/gtd. The GTD staff compiled the Statistical Annex data set to include violent acts carried out by non-state actors that meet all of the GTD inclusion criteria:[1]

1. The violent act was aimed at attaining a political, economic, religious, or social goal;

2. The violent act included evidence of an intention to coerce, intimidate, or convey some other message to a larger audience (or audiences) other than the immediate victims; and

3. The violent act was outside the precepts of International Humanitarian Law insofar as it targeted non-combatants.

These data represent our best efforts to report the most comprehensive and valid information on terrorism, based on the availability of open-source data and resources. We continually strive to evaluate and enhance our methodology to promote comprehensive, accurate, and systematic data collection. In particular, in 2012 we developed data collection tools that expand the number of sources available for analysis and automate the selection of potentially relevant articles from which GTD staff identify unique attacks and record their specific details.

Due to the evolution in data collection methodology with respect to both WITS and prior versions of the GTD it is important to note that the data presented here are not directly comparable with previous data from either of these sources. Because of this, we restrict the analysis in this annex to patterns of terrorism worldwide in 2012.

This Annex of Statistical Information is a guide to worldwide terrorist activity as reported by unclassified sources. We hope that these data will be useful for improving knowledge about patterns and characteristics of terrorism, and helpful for maintaining global awareness of the threat it poses.

The Annex of Statistical Information is provided for statistical purposes only. The statistical information contained in the Annex is based on reports from a variety of open sources that may be of varying credibility. Nothing in this report should be construed as a determination that individuals associated with the underlying incidents are guilty of terrorism or any other criminal offense. As with all records in the Global Terrorism Database, the statistical information may be modified, as necessary and appropriate, if new information becomes available.

Any assessments and descriptions, including those regarding the nature of the incidents or the factual circumstances thereof, are offered only as part of the analytic work product of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) and may not reflect the views of the United States government.

INCIDENTS OF TERRORISM WORLDWIDE

In 2012, a total of 6,771 terrorist attacks occurred worldwide, resulting in more than 11,000 deaths and more than 21,600 injuries. In addition, more than 1,280 people were kidnapped or taken hostage. In this report we describe patterns of worldwide terrorist activity with respect to changes during the year, geographic concentration, casualties, perpetrator organizations, tactics, weapons, and targets.

Table 1: Terrorist attacks and casualties worldwide by month, 2012

If a scroll bar appears below the following table, swipe the table to move left/right of the dashed line.

Month

Total Attacks

Total Killed

Total Wounded

Total Kidnapped/
Taken Hostage

January

595

1378

1838

133

February

461

801

1620

135

March

515

789

1931

78

April

579

843

1416

188

May

684

873

2523

104

June

591

1189

2580

254

July

571

1010

1817

68

August

615

953

1498

92

September

520

877

1853

31

October

614

986

1656

102

November

570

794

1878

46

December

456

605

1042

52

Total

6771

11098

21652

1283


• On average, there were 564.25 attacks, 924.83 deaths, and 1,804.33 injuries per month in 2012. There were 1.64 fatalities and 3.20 injuries per attack, including perpetrator casualties.

• The high number of fatalities in January (1,378) was due in large part to terrorist violence in Iraq (425 deaths) and Nigeria (348 deaths).

• The increase in terrorist violence from February through June includes the onset of spring “fighting season” in Afghanistan, where there was a 153 percent increase in attacks and a 158 percent increase in fatalities.

LOCATION


Table 2: Ten countries with the most terrorist attacks, 2012

If a scroll bar appears below the following table, swipe the table to move left/right of the dashed line.

Country

Total Attacks

Total Killed

Total Wounded

Average Number Killed per Attack

Average Number Wounded per Attack

Pakistan

1404

1848

3643

1.32

2.59

Iraq

1271

2436

6641

1.92

5.23

Afghanistan

1023

2632

3715

2.57

3.63

India

557

231

559

0.41

1.00

Nigeria

546

1386

1019

2.54

1.87

Thailand

222

174

897

0.78

4.04

Yemen

203

365

427

1.80

2.10

Somalia

185

323

397

1.75

2.15

Philippines

141

109

270

0.77

1.91

Syria[2]

133

657

1787

4.94

13.44

• Although terrorist attacks occurred in 85 different countries in 2012, they were heavily concentrated geographically. Over half of all attacks (55%), fatalities (62%), and injuries (65%) occurred in just three countries: Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

• The highest number of fatalities occurred in Afghanistan (2,632); however the country with the most injuries due to terrorist attacks was Iraq (6,641).

• The average lethality of terrorist attacks in Nigeria (2.54 deaths per attack) is more than 50 percent higher than the global average of 1.64. The average lethality of terrorist attacks in Syria (4.94 deaths per attack) is more than 200 percent higher than the global average.

• The average number of people wounded per terrorist attack was especially high in Syria, where 1,787 people were reportedly wounded in 133 attacks, including four attacks that caused 670 injuries.

• In contrast, the rates of lethality for India (0.42 deaths per attack), the Philippines (0.77 deaths per attack), and Thailand (0.78 deaths per attack) were relatively low among the countries with the most attacks.

COUNTRY PROFILES

Pakistan

• Terrorist attacks in Pakistan were attributed to 18 different perpetrator organizations in 2012; however, Pakistan also had a particularly high percentage of attacks with unidentified perpetrators (82.5%) compared to the global average of unattributed attacks (61.7%).

• Among the organizations identified, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was by far the most active. TTP was attributed responsibility for 100 attacks, nearly 500 deaths, and more than 900 injuries in Pakistan in 2012. The group claimed responsibility for 70 percent of these attacks, typically via telephone following the attack.

• More than one-third of all terrorist attacks in Pakistan took place in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, and an additional 23 percent took place in Balochistan, where a number of Baloch separatist groups were particularly active. Attacks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas represented 19.6 percent of the total. Eighteen percent of all attacks took place in Sindh Province.

• Consistent with global patterns, the most common type of target in Pakistan was private citizens and property, which represented 23 percent of attacks. Attacks targeting police were 33 percent less prevalent in Pakistan compared to the rest of the world. In contrast, attacks against educational institutions were 108 percent more prevalent in Pakistan, owing to 120 bombings of girls’ and boys’ primary, middle, and high schools in 2012. These attacks typically occurred when the schools were unoccupied, causing relatively few casualties (0.39 deaths and 0.79 injuries per attack, on average). Attacks against educational institutions were also relatively common in Nigeria (56), Afghanistan (23), Turkey (21), and Thailand (20); however, the total number of terrorist attacks against education targets in Pakistan (136) was greater than in these four countries combined.

Iraq

• Similar to patterns of terrorist attacks in Pakistan, 81 percent of attacks in Iraq were attributed to unidentified perpetrators. However, Iraq differs insofar as 97 percent of the remaining attacks were attributed to al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), either directly or under the name Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).

• Terrorism in Iraq was uniquely characterized by highly lethal attacks. Three of the 10 most lethal terrorist attacks in 2012 took place in Iraq.

• Likewise, perpetrators of terrorism in Iraq frequently carried out series of coordinated events in which as many as several dozen attacks occurred at multiple locations throughout the country on a single day. In 2012, 11 of the 20 most lethal days within individual countries were cases of multiple attacks in Iraq. On four of these days there were more than 30 attacks across the country.

• The tactics and targets of terrorist attacks in Iraq were highly concentrated. More than 65 percent of all terrorist attacks in Iraq in 2012 targeted either private citizens and property or police. An additional 10.2 percent of attacks targeted general (non-diplomatic) government entities. The vast majority of attacks in Iraq (80.7%) were bombings. An additional 15 percent were armed assaults and three percent were assassinations of key figures.

Afghanistan

• Unlike in Pakistan and Iraq, perpetrator groups were identified in over 53 percent of attacks in Afghanistan. As with Iraq, however, relatively few perpetrator groups were active in Afghanistan. Over half (52.6%) of all terrorist attacks in Afghanistan in 2012 were attributed to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network.

• Attacks against military[3] targets in 2012 were 24.3 percent more common in Afghanistan than the global average. Many of these attacks targeted NATO/ISAF personnel or supply convoys.

• In 2012, 11.1 percent of all attacks in Afghanistan were attacks in which the perpetrator did not intend to survive. This represents one-third (33.2%) of all suicide attacks worldwide, while the remaining suicide attacks occurred primarily in Iraq (19.1%), Pakistan (13.2%), Nigeria (10.3%), Yemen (7.7%), Syria (6.8%), and Somalia (4.7%).

• Terrorist attacks were geographically ubiquitous in Afghanistan in 2012, occurring in 33 of the country’s 34 provinces (with the exception of Daykundi Province). Nearly one-quarter of all attacks in 2012 took place in Helmand and Kandahar Provinces in the South. In Helmand Province, 471 people were killed in 143 attacks and in Kandahar, 277 people were killed in 96 attacks. Twenty-one other provinces across the country suffered more than 15 attacks in 2012.

CASUALTIES


Figure 1: Casualties due to terrorist attacks worldwide, 2012

Date: 05/30/2013 Description: Figure 1: Casualties due to terrorist attacks worldwide, 2012. Chart shows percent of attacks; number of casualties; killed and wounded. - State Dept Image

• Nearly half of all terrorist attacks in 2012 (49.4%) caused no fatalities and 53 percent caused no injuries. The majority of the non-lethal attacks were bombings (74.2%) and approximately 20 percent of them were unsuccessful attacks (e.g., the explosive was planted but was defused or failed to detonate).

• Attacks that killed only one person were most likely to be armed assaults (38.6%), assassinations (10.6%), or kidnappings (2.8%). Among the bombings that killed only one person, 13.4 percent were those in which only the bomber was killed.

• In 2012, 186 single attacks killed more than 10 people, less than three percent of all attacks. The majority of these highly lethal attacks (159) took place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria, and Syria, and killed a total of 2,880 people.

• Around the world, 1,283 people were kidnapped or taken hostage in 2012. Reports indicated that 651 of these hostages were released, rescued, or escaped. The remaining hostages were either killed or the outcome was not reported.


PERPETRATORS


Table 3: Ten perpetrator groups with the most attacks worldwide, 2012

If a scroll bar appears below the following table, swipe the table to move left/right of the dashed line.

Perpetrator Group Name

Total Attacks

Total Killed

Average Number Killed per Attack

Taliban

525

1842

3.51

Boko Haram

364

1132

3.11

Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI)/Islamic State of Iraq (ISI)

249

892

3.58

Maoists (India)/ Communist Party of India-Maoist

204

131

0.64

Al-Shabaab

121

278

2.30

Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

108

282

2.61

Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)

103

510

4.95

Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)

80

83

1.04

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)

71

122

1.72

Corsican National Liberation Front (FLNC)

58

0

0.00

• Information about perpetrators was reported in source materials for 38 percent of terrorist attacks in 2012. More than 160 organizations were named as perpetrators of terrorist attacks. Of the attacks for which perpetrator information was reported, 20 percent were attributed to the Taliban, operating primarily in Afghanistan.

• In 36.3 percent of the attacks with information about the perpetrator group, the group explicitly claimed responsibility. In the remaining attacks, source documents attributed responsibility to a particular group or groups based on reports from authorities or observers.

• In addition to carrying out the most attacks, the Taliban in Afghanistan was responsible for the greatest number of fatalities in 2012. Along with Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), the Taliban was among the most lethal organizations, causing an average of 3.5 deaths per attack.

• Boko Haram was responsible for a number of highly lethal attacks in 2012, including a series of coordinated bombings and armed assaults in Kano, Nigeria on January 20 that killed an estimated 190 people.

• In contrast, the Corsican National Liberation Front (FLNC) was the tenth most active terrorist group in 2012, yet it was not responsible for any fatal attacks. Rather, the group was linked to several series of bombing attacks on vacant vacation homes and supermarkets. The group claimed responsibility for 50 of these attacks, either via a statement made after the attack or graffiti left at the scene.

TACTICS and WEAPONS


Figure 2: Tactics used in terrorist attacks worldwide, 2012

Date: 05/30/2013 Description: Figure 2: Tactics used in terrorist attacks worldwide, 2012. Chart shows Assassination 5%; Facility/Infrastructure Attack 4%; Hostage Taking 4%; Bombing/Explosion 62%; Armed Assault 25%. - State Dept Image

• Each recorded terrorist attack can involve one or more tactics in a continuous sequence of actions. The most commonly used tactic in 2012 involved explosives, followed by armed assaults, which almost always involved firearms.

• Assassinations, where specific targets were selected because of their position, represented 4.7 percent of all tactics identified and they were most likely to be unsuccessful, meaning that the intended target of the assassination was not killed. Less than two-thirds (64%) of all attempted terrorist assassinations in 2012 were successful.

• In addition to the tactics shown in Figure 2, there were 23 unarmed assaults in 2012, 14 of which involved the use of chemical agents or poison. Likewise, three hijackings were attempted. Two of the hijackings targeted passenger vehicles in Iraq and the Philippines. The third was an unsuccessful aerial hijacking attempt reportedly made by Uighur separatists in China.

• Worldwide, 340 suicide attacks took place in 2012, resulting in 2,223 deaths and 4,410 injuries. Suicide attacks in 2012 were 4.7 times as lethal as non-suicide attacks.

TARGETS


Table 4: Targets of Terrorist Attacks Worldwide, 2012

If a scroll bar appears below the following table, swipe the table to move left/right of the dashed line.

Target Type

Number of Targets

Private Citizens/Property

2073

Police

1699

Government (General)

971

Business

480

Military

379

Educational Institution

325

Unknown

285

Religious Figures/Institutions

223

Transportation

221

Utilities

177

Terrorists or Non-state Militia

144

Government (Diplomatic)

95

Journalists and Media

84

Violent Political Party[4]

83

Other

78

Telecommunication

57

NGO

44

Airports & Airlines

20

Food or Water Supply

19

Tourists

10

Total

7467

• Half of all targets (50.5%) were classified as either private citizens and property or police. While attacks against these two types of targets occurred globally, they were particularly prevalent in Iraq, where 27.1 percent of attacks against private citizens and 24.3 percent of attacks against police took place.

• Other types of targets were more heavily concentrated geographically. For example, half of the 57 telecommunication targets and nearly one-third of the religious institutions targeted in 2012 were located in Nigeria, where Boko Haram frequently attacked cellular towers and churches. More than three-quarters of the 83 violent political party targets were located in Pakistan. Nearly 60 percent of the 325 educational targets were attacked in Nigeria and Pakistan as well. Terrorist attacks against journalists and media targets were most frequent in Somalia (26.2%), Pakistan (17.9%), and Syria (13.1%).

• The most lethal terrorist attacks in 2012 were those in which the primary target was a religious institution. On average, these attacks resulted in 2.56 deaths per attack.

• Diplomatic targets were attacked 95 times in 2012. More than one-third of all diplomatic targets were UN personnel or facilities. The remaining diplomatic targets included the African Union, the European Union, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization, as well as consulates, embassies, and diplomatic personnel representing Bulgaria, Canada, China, Egypt, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United States.



[1] Readers familiar with the GTD will note that inclusion in the GTD proper from which the Statistical Annex data set was derived requires that an event meet at least two out of the three inclusion criteria. In consultation with the US Department of State, we determined that it was appropriate to include in the Statistical Annex dataset only those events for which all three criteria were met in order to adhere to the definition established in the US Code. In addition, the Statistical Annex dataset excludes any events in the GTD for which there was considerable uncertainty or conflicting reports regarding the inclusion criteria.

[2] Given the relative paucity of international journalists reporting from Syria, the data presented here should be considered conservative estimates of terrorism in this location in 2012. Consistent with START’s practice of including in the GTD only those attacks that have been verified by at least one well-regarded source, the statistics presented in this Annex of Statistical Information represent those incidents that were reported by independent news outlets.

[3] Although the Statistical Annex data set excludes attacks against combatant targets, it includes attacks in which perpetrators indiscriminately targeted both combatants and non-combatants.

[4] “Violent Political Parties” are organizations that engage in electoral politics and are also attributed responsibility for terrorist attacks in the Global Terrorism Database.