Since the 'War on Terror' Began, Acts of Terror Have Increased 6,500 Percent
November 16, 2015
Paul Gottinger / Reader Supported News
Terror attacks have jumped by a stunning 6,500% since 2002, according to a new analysis by Reader Supported News. The number of casualties resulting from terror attacks has increased by 4,500% over this same time period. These colossal upsurges in terror took place despite a decade-long, worldwide effort to fight terrorism that has been led by the United States.
Despite 14 Years of the US War on Terror,
Terror Attacks Have Skyrocketed Since 9/11
Paul Gottinger / Reader Supported News
(September 11, 2015) -- Terror attacks have jumped by a stunning 6,500% since 2002, according to a new analysis by Reader Supported News. The number of casualties resulting from terror attacks has increased by 4,500% over this same time period. These colossal upsurges in terror took place despite a decade-long, worldwide effort to fight terrorism that has been led by the United States.
The analysis, conducted with figures provided by the US State Department, also shows that from 2007 to 2011 almost half of all the world's terror took place in Iraq or Afghanistan -- two countries being occupied by the US at the time.
Countries experiencing US military interventions continue to be subjected to high numbers of terror attacks, according to the data. In 2014, 74 percent of all terror-related casualties occurred in Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Syria. Of these five, only Nigeria did not experience either US air strikes or a military occupation in that year.
The data also show that the number of terror attacks around the world jumps up significantly shortly after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. In 2002, there were only 208 terror attacks, but by 2005 that figure had jumped to 11,000. There is no public data available on the number of terror attacks in 2004.
The State Department produced 2004's terrorism data in its Patterns of Global Terrorism report from that year, but the report came under heavy criticism from the Bush administration for showing terrorism was at a 19-year high. These findings flew in the face of the Bush administration's assertion that terrorism had declined in 2003, and as a result the 2004 data was never released.
The Bush administration ended the State Department's annual report on terror, and instead issued a new report, which listed no methodology and withheld statistics on incidents of terrorism. The 2004 terrorism estimates in the table below are taken from CIA figures.
RSN's analysis of the impact of 14 years of the US War on Terror seem to verify what the Institute for Economics and Peace's Global Terrorism Index found last year. That report stated, "The rise in terrorist activity coincided with the US invasion of Iraq." The US occupation, the report continues, "created large power vacuums in the country allowing different factions to surface and become violent."
This so-called "Iraq Effect" has been reported by British intelligence, as well as in the US government's own reports, which stated that "the war in Iraq has become the cause célèbre for jihadists" and that the war is "shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives."
On October 7, the US war in Afghanistan will hit its 14th year. In one estimate, the US War on Terror may have killed between 1.3 and 2 million people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. This count doesn't include deaths that have resulted from the drone wars in Somalia and Yemen, air strikes on Libya in 2011, and the current US bombing and military involvement in Syria.
These figures dwarf the roughly 3,000 people who tragically died in the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The US invasion of Iraq destabilized Iraq and Syria, creating the conditions for the emergence of ISIS, which now controls large parts of the two countries. The invasion of Afghanistan has not been able to wrestle large sections of the country from the Taliban, leaving Afghanistan in state of perpetual war. And the air war to oust Muammar Gaddafi has left Libya in a state of chaos.
The instability caused by these wars, along with the atrocities perpetrated by US-led forces, which can be exploited for terrorist recruitment, have played a significant role in the increase of terrorism worldwide.
As we commemorate the tragic events of September 11, 2001, let us also reflect on the even larger tragedies, the staggering number of people who have died as a result of the US War on Terror, and the fact that the US effort has only increased the specter of terrorism, which now haunts millions around the world.
Terror Attacks Around the World
(Year Number of Attacks Number Killed)
2001 355 3,295
2002 199 725
2003 208 625
2004 650 1,907
2005 11,000 14,200
2006 14,000 20,000
2007 14,415 22,720
2008 11,663 15,709
2009 10,968 15,311
2010 11,641 13,193
2011 10,283 12,533
2012 6,771 11,000
2013 10,000 18,000
2014 13,500 32,727
Source: US State Department
Paul Gottinger is a staff reporter at RSN whose work focuses on the Middle East and the arms industry. He can be reached on Twitter @paulgottinger or via email.