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Terrorism on rise at an 'unprecedented pace'

Published 17/11/2015

The IEP's Steve Killelea said the UK was harder to get into because of its border protection from being an island
The IEP's Steve Killelea said the UK was harder to get into because of its border protection from being an island

Terrorism is on the rise at an "unprecedented pace" after the number of deaths from terror attacks soared to its highest level last year, a study has found.

A total of 32,658 people were killed by terrorists around the world in 2014 - an 80% increase on the previous year, according to the Global Terrorism Index.

The Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP), which produced the index before Friday's attacks in Paris, said the atrocity in the French capital had shown Islamic State (IS), also known as Isil or Isis, could now launch "sophisticated and deadly attacks" in Europe.

The IEP's executive chairman Steve Killelea told the Press Association: "Terrorism is gaining momentum at an unprecedented pace.

"The Paris incident in many ways is a watershed within Europe. It shows that Isil has the capabilities to be able to launch sophisticated and deadly attacks in Europe.

"The UK certainly could be the victim of one of these types of attacks. We saw with al Qaida, its ability to be able to perform deadly attacks in London which brought the city to a standstill.

"However the UK, because of its border protection from being an island, makes it a lot harder for terrorists to get in."

The index ranks the level of terrorism in 162 countries - representing 99.5% of the world's population - by measuring the number of attacks, injuries, deaths and property damage as a result of terror attacks.

The UK ranked 28th in the index - higher than the United States, Iran and France, although the report did not include the impact of the Paris attacks in which 129 people were killed.

Terrorism remained highly concentrated in just five countries, with Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria accounting for 78% of terror-related deaths in 2014, the index found.

The UK recorded the highest number of terrorist incidents of Western countries with 102 last year, although they did not result in any deaths. T he majority of the attacks were in Northern Ireland and involved the New IRA, the report said.

Mr Killelea warned that IS fighters returning to Europe could be capable of more deadly attacks because of their military training.

Between 25,000 and 30,000 foreign fighters have arrived in Iraq and Syria since 2011, including more than 7,000 in the first half of 2015, the report found.

Meanwhile Britain provided the fourth highest number of foreign fighters from countries where Muslims are not the majority, with about 600 arriving in Iraq and Syria since 2011, it added.

Mr Killelea said: "The flood of foreign fighters is not stopping.

"Lone wolf terrorists tend to be less deadly than others and that's simply because of the lack of military training. The returning fighters from Syria will have the military training.

"The Paris attacks were definitely an organised group and it would appear at this stage, they definitely had military training.

"The tactics of Isis are changing. They are targeting more private citizens.

"It's difficult - taking the time frame forward two years - to see the Isis threat disappearing."

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