Definition of "terrorism"
Even the sheer number of events classified as terrorist acts may come as a bit of a surprise. This is mainly due to the problem that there is no generally binding definition of terrorism. There are quite different interpretations. For some, the term is closely linked to non-state violence against civilians. Occasionally one limits oneself also to purely religious backgrounds. And if all this is not the case, there is still martial law, which legitimises numerous acts of violence in crisis areas under the Geneva Conventions.
In the evaluations available here, everything is considered a terrorist act that
- has political, economic, religious or social goals,
- does not serve the pure profit of the perpetrators,
- aims at a deeper change in politics, religion or society and
- is not considered an act of war (according to the Geneva Conventions of 1949).
According to these criteria, arson in asylum seekers' accommodation is just as much an act of terrorism as attacks on a foreign embassy. Irrespective of whether these attacks take place at home or abroad. On the other hand, it is not an act of terrorism when soldiers run over a mine in a war zone and are killed in the process.
Development of terrorist activity
At first glance, the pure number of cases in the terrorism database suggests a massive increase in global terrorism. In 2016 alone, there were about 4 times as many incidents worldwide as in the years before 2013, and the number of registered deaths has even increased about 6 times in the last 10 years. However, this is not due to an increased willingness to terrorise, but predominantly to the much more efficient procurement of information nowadays. So 20 years ago smaller acts of terrorism were not as well known (or researchable) as they are today. A quantitative development cannot be read from this database. In order to do justice to these different case numbers, one can at best compare the severity of the terrorist acts.
Number of severe attacks with at least 50 dead
If one assumes that the really serious attacks with at least 50 deaths also became so public in earlier years that they were included in the terrorist database, a development can nevertheless be seen from this. The pure number of these serious acts of terrorism was slightly higher in 1997 and 2007 and has been considerably higher in recent years since 2014 than usual. The terrorist organisations Boko Haram
and the Islamic State
played a large part in these attacks.
All information without guarantee.