Comparison of the largest terrorist groupsThe list of the most widespread terrorist groups is headed by the Taliban. They are followed by the Islamic State, Boko Haram und Al-Shabaab. In the years 2013 to 2017 alone, these 4 organisations carried out around 13,600 attacks and killed 72,519 people.
Comparison by country
Note: This page contains data from 2013 to 2017 and is no longer updated.
Terrorist acts by group 2013 to 2017
|Boko Haram||Western Africa, Central Africa||1,634||16,108||7,575||2,828|
|Donetsk People's Republic||Ukraine||259||821||584||166|
|Abu Sayyaf||Philippines, Malaysia||240||111||253||303|
|Fulani extremists||Western Africa, Central Africa||223||1,135||184||65|
|Al-Nusrah Front||Western Asia||195||1,781||1,298||704|
|Luhansk People's Republic||Ukraine||112||75||124||68|
|Garo National Liberation Army||India||103||45||59||54|
|Anti-Balaka Militia||Central Africa, Cameroon||70||720||282||1,058|
|Asa'ib Ahl al-Haqq||Iraq||57||111||37||91|
|Free Syrian Army||Western Asia||53||141||204||6|
|Mayi Mayi||Congo (Dem. Republic)||40||71||41||245|
|Sudan People's Liberation Movement - North||Sudan||32||242||156||15|
|Seleka||Central Africa, Cameroon||32||363||80||141|
|Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham||Syria, Lebanon||24||186||77||6|
|Kamwina Nsapu Militia||Congo (Dem. Republic)||19||181||14||61|
|Popular Resistance Committees||Western Asia||26||95||49||144|
|Haqqani Network||Afghanistan, Pakistan||19||49||82||0|
|Peace at Home Council||Turkey||17||77||13||0|
|Supporters of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi||Yemen||14||75||0||0|
|Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries||Libya||13||44||105||0|
|Abdullah Azzam Brigades||Western Asia, South Asia||13||42||284||0|
|Aleppo Fatah Operations Room||Syria||8||15||280||0|
|Mai Mai Mazembe Militia||Congo (Dem. Republic)||6||80||25||0|
|Nur-al-Din al-Zinki Movement||Syria||5||65||108||0|
|David Yau Yau Militia||South Sudan||4||91||96||24|
|Islamic Movement for the Liberation of Raja||South Sudan||2||84||5||0|
|Ansar al-Din Front||Syria||2||206||0||57|
|Anti-Government extremists||United States, Chile||3||59||852||0|
|Islamic Unification Movement||Lebanon||2||47||300||0|
Interdependencies among terrorist groupsTerrorist groups are rarely self-sufficient and do not always pursue their goals alone. Often, there are superordinate organizations whose individual national associations act independently, but are defacto centrally controlled or advocate a common goal. The example of Al-Qaeda explains this particularly well: Al-Qaeda occasionally appears as a transnational, independent terrorist organization, but it is actually a huge terrorist network.
The "313 Brigade" is Al-Qaeda's military arm in Pakistan, "Tawhid and Jihad" is a subgroup in Iraq, MUJAO performs the same functions in West Africa, and Khorasan in Syria. All depend on each other, but are often named as initiating an attack. Similarly, the Philippine Abu-Sajaf has nothing to do formally with Al-Qaeda, but shares roots with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. The two organizations also support each other financially today, and parts of their training take place in al-Qaeda's Middle Eastern territories.
Ultimately, it is difficult to attribute individual acts of terrorism to one organization or the other. Sometimes it just carries out what the leadership demands. Other times, several groups work on the same target, and sometimes an attack is carried out entirely independently.
Financing the terrorist organizationsImages in the media often show tent-like accommodations, makeshift training camps and, even in the upper echelons of the organizations, a standard of living that would not suggest too much wealth. Yet terrorist acts are carried out worldwide at immense capital expense. Rapid-fire weapons, bazookas, bulletproof vests, state-of-the-art computer equipment and even their own airplanes are deployed to cause trouble in various parts of the world. According to research by the magazine "Forbes Israel," Al-Qaeda alone has an annual budget of an impressive $150 million. The Islamic State even has an annual turnover of 2 billion US dollars
The sources of income differ depending on the group. IS takes most of its budget from the oil trade. More than half of Syria's oil wells and parts of Iraq's oil reserves are controlled by IS or its subordinate offshoots. Of course, IS does not show up at the regular trading points. Instead, the oil is diverted and enters commerce through the black market.
For many terrorist groups, looting and hostage-taking is a profitable business. It is estimated that the Islamic State alone earns nearly $200 million annually from this. Drug trafficking also plays a significant role time and again. The Colombian FARC earns around half a billion U.S. dollars a year from this and, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, controls almost half of the global cocaine trade. Hezbollah and the Taliban are also said to be financed primarily through the drug trade.
What several terrorist groups have in common is financial support through donations. This does not only include (partly forced) donations from private individuals, but also states themselves support individual groups. For example, Hezbollah is supported by Iran, Hamas is supported by Qatar, and Hamas is also supported by the tax revenues of the Gaza Strip. But Western states also intervene in a targeted manner and promote one group or another with financial aid or arms deliveries in order to influence the politics of a country. Operation Cyclone", for example, was legendary in that it flushed more than 2 billion US dollars into Pakistan. The mujahideen were supported at the time. While they were still called "freedom fighters" in the 1980s, today they are described as the origin of Al-Qaeda and Abu Sajaf.