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it's not so isis

The complex shape of terrorism
with its ideological vertices,
illustrated through data.
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Terrorism is the consequence of some groups’ activities originated from the violent radicalization of different mindsets. It is a complex phenomenon and in the 90s the “Declaration on Joint Action to Counter Terrorism” of the ONU General Assembly recognised it as a global threat to peace and international safety. There are three core sources that could be identified as triggers of a plurality of ideologies: religious,political and ethnic.

In order to analyse the primary version of terrorism, the one provided by data, we merged together two different datasets from START consortium: the GTD and BAAD2.
We selected 120 terroristic groups and analysed their activities throughout 18 years - from 1998 to 2015 - in order to display a clear picture of the terrorist attacks evolution over time and by the sources.

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Terrorism, a complex shape

Terrorist attacks, as in violent actions against community are old and deeply radicated phenomena in history. They are the result of many factors and could be metaphorically compared to a complex geometrical shape.

faces and vertices

There are different factors that influence terrorism. These could be visualised as its faces, while the ideological sources could be compared to its vertices, the origins of the shape.

three main origin points

Terroristic groups start from several radical beliefs that are different in roots and typology. In order to simplify the ideological net, we gather these groups in three main categories: religious, political and ethnic.

1998 2000 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011 2013 2015 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014

Can you see two historical moments?

The bump chart shows the amount of terroristic attacks over the last 18 years. The trend could be divided in two parts, the first one where the three flows - religious political ethnic - have similar sizes and a second one where there is a significant increase of the religious matrix attacks.

Datasource

What about Europe?

The trend seems to be quite different in Europe, where political conflicts prevail the others. The peak of this trend is in the 2000s, although there is a religious-based conflict increase in the last years.

Datasource
1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014

the places
of terrorism

The research investigates three main aspects of terrorism: geographical settings, groups and victims. In the first part we tried to layout an overall view about the terroristic attacks distribution from 1998 to 2015 all over the world, always focusing on the amount of victims and on the three different origin points.

from 1998to 2006 from 2007to 2015 North Africa and Middle East Asia Sub-Saharian Africa 11.826 victims 2.996 victims

How many ideology - led - victims are there per region?

Since we identified two main trends in the terrorism evolution, we decided to visually analyse how much the phenomenon has changed over the time, in order to understand where the attacks have been perpetrated and how many people have been killed in these attacks. The map shows three areas were the attacks are most frequent and the trend-lines display the ideological origin points for each area.

Asia

The majority of the victis in Asia until the 90s was caused by political and religious-led terrorism. In the last years there has been a significant increase of the religious ideology-led attacks, slightly lower than in the other regions.

Datasource
1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 8000 6000 7000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0

middle east & north africa

Middle East is the most damaged geographical area. The trends appear to be similar to the other regions; the religious ideological source is the one causing the highest number of deaths, with a high intensification in the last years.

Datasource
1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 8000 6000 7000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0

Sub Saharan Africa

The Sub-Saharan Africa is characterized by the absence of any political ideology-led attacks. The ethnic trend is always regular throughout the years, while the religious one has seen a significant increase from 2010.

Datasource
1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 8000 6000 7000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0

The terrorist
groups

Terrorist groups cover a central role in the phenomenon, representing one of the main aspects of terrorism. We analysed the deadliest groups, in order to understand how much a specific ideological source is dangerous in terms of attacks and victims.

45% of the groups
are religious

The 120 groups have been analysed and displayed considering the amount of people killed by each one of them. The circles dimensions depend on the number of victims while different colours refer to different ideological sources. The ten most lethal groups have been selected and analysed separately from this stage onwards.

Abdullah Azzam Brigades 179 victims Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) 426 victims Al-Nusrah Front 1803 victims Al-Qaida 3579 victims Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) 1533 victims Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) 973 victims Al-Shabaab 3439 victims Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) 750 victims Ansar Al-Islam 96 victims Ansar Al-Sharia (Lybia) 100 victims Asa'ib Ahl al-Haqq 92 victims Boko Haram 15612 victims Caucasus Emirate 209 victims Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) 116 victims Free Aceh Movement (FAM) 112 victims Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) 561 victims Haqqani Network 437 victims Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami 191 victims Hezbollah 151 victims Hizb-I-Islami 49 victims Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) 180 victims Indian Mujahideen 71 victims Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) 65 victims Islamic State of Iraq and Syria 20210 victims Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) 54 victims Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) 53 victims Jemaah Islamiya (JI) 338 victims Judallah 412 victims Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) 261 victims Lashkar-e-Islam (Pakistan) 175 victims Lashkar-e-Jhangvi 968 victims Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) 738 victims Lord’s Resistance Army 2375 victims Mahdi Army 57 victims Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 542 victims Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa(MUJAO) 71 victims Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and SabotageBattalion of Chechen Martyrs 412 victims Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK) 39 victims Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan 16772 victims Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan 4284 victims Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade 273 victims Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA) 65 victims Baloch Liberation Army 213 victims Baloch Liberation Front 103 victims Baloch Republican Army (BRA) 122 victims Black Widows 53 victims Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda(FDLR) 355 victims Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha Jwala Singh(JTMM-J) 31 victims Kurdistan Free Life Party 45 victims Liberation Tigers of Talim Eelam 1903 victims Mayi Mayi 79 victims National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) 319 victims National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) 146 victims Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) 33 victims Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) 123 victims Sudan People's Liberation Movement - North 258 victims Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia 1942 victims Basque Fatherland and Freedom (ETA) 61 victims Communist Party of India - Maoist 1949 victims Communist Party of Nepal- Maoist (CPN-M) 610 victims Free Syrian Army 171 victims Garo National Liberation Army 61 victims Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) 508 victims Maoist Communist Center (MCC) 118 victims National Liberation Army of Colombia (ELN) 204 victims National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah(NSCN-IM) 51 victims New People's Army (NPA) 631 victims Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) 214 victims People's Liberation Front of India 33 victims People's War Group (PWG) 196 victims Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) 37 victims Shining Path 29 victims Southern Mobility Movement (Yemen) 29 victims United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) 497 victims United Self Defense Units of Colombia (AUC) 328 victims Al-Qaida Al-Shabaab Boko Haram ISIS LRA Taliban TTP LTTE FARC CPI-Maoist

Where and how
do the terrorist attack?

The ten groups are linked to geographical places where they attacked and to the type of attack. The flows’ dimensions refer to the amount of attacks perpetrated from each group, also identified by the ideological source colour.

Datasource
Taliban ISIS Boko Haram TTP Al-Shabaab FARC LTTE LRA CPI-Maoist Al-Qaida Cameroon 10,275,054,241,421 Central African Republic 1,607,959,860,077 Chad 3,224,025,500,547 Colombia 20,044,272,460,611 Democratic Republic of the Congo 5,625,487,460,347 Djibouti 201,405,240,127 Egypt 201,408,050,006 France 806,044,520,022 India 17,686,826,111,067 Jordan 803,044,360,016 Kenya 6,038,314,130,556 Lebanon 1,007,342,330,083 Libya 201,408,050,015 Niger 4,030,123,881,056 Pakistan 41,835,764,592,171 Saudi Arabia 201,501,050,013 Somalia 28,782,305,022,004 South Sudan 201,501,250,027 Sri Lanka 19,242,573,330,597 Sudan 2,405,768,280,134 Syria 17,326,051,123,881 Tanzania 199,808,070,003 Tunisia 401,715,350,004 Turkey 1,407,057,010,049 Uganda 8,613,800,950,160 United States 800,436,440,022 Afghanistan 220,351,194,506,006 Iraq 162,441,084,401,177 Nigeria 122,849,929,550,695 Al-Qaida 5,008,298,440,101 Al-Qaida 5,008,298,440,101 Al-Shabaab 34,823,410,082,693 Al-Shabaab 34,823,410,082,693 Communist Party of India - Maoist (CPI-Maoist) 17,285,316,911,062 Communist Party of India - Maoist (CPI-Maoist) 17,285,316,911,062 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) 19,644,082,530,602 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) 19,644,082,530,602 Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) 18,052,503,580,730 Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) 18,052,503,580,730 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) 20,044,272,460,611 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) 20,044,272,460,611 Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) 39,426,984,532,106 Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) 39,426,984,532,106 Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) 39,426,984,532,106 Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) 39,426,984,532,106 Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) 39,426,984,532,106 Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) 39,426,984,532,106 Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) 39,426,984,532,106 Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) 39,426,984,532,106 Chemical 401,421,300,013 Explosives/Bombs/Dynamite 402,209,754,388,784 Firearms 210,688,539,770,743 Incendiary 9,852,684,591,434 Incendiary 9,852,684,591,434 Melee 8,443,511,241,068 Vehicle (not to include vehicle-borne explosives, i.e., car or truck bombs) 800,436,440,022 Iraq Chad India Syria Kenya Congo Niger Sudan Turkey France Lybia Egypt Afghanistan Explosives Firearms Unknown Incediary Melee Vehicle Chemical Nigeria Pakistan Somalia Colombia Sri Lanka Cameroon Uganda C.A.R. Lebanon Jordan United States Tunisia South Sudan Saudi Arabia Dijibouti Tanzania

the victims
of terrorism

The amount of victims throughout the years brought terrorism to be considered as a terrifying global danger. The following analysis shows different aspects about the victims of terrorism, such as quantity, typology, nationality, social identity.

65.095 of people killed by religious ideology

The amount of people killed from each group has been analysed from 1998 to 2015. The circles dimensions reflect the quantity of victims.

Datasource
2000 1999 1998 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2013 2012 2014 2015 LTTE FARC CPI-Maoist LRA Al-Shabaab Al-Qaida TTP Boko Haram Taliban ISIS
United StatesAl-Qaida11 September 2001 2996 victims IraqISIS10 June 2014 670 victims IraqISIS3 April 2014 500 victims NigeriaBoko Haram5 May 2014 400 victims IraqISIS10 June 2014 316 victims

45% of attacks were against private citizens

The alluvial illustrates the target population stroke by the different groups.The flows’ dimensions refer to the quantity of people killed while the colours are always associated to the three ideological sources. The bar graphs show the total percentage of victims per target, coloured according to the ideological sources.

Datasource
ISIS Taliban Boko Haram TTP Al-Shabaab FARC LTTE CPI-M LRA Al-Qaida Al-Qaida 779 Al-Shabaab 3,352 Boko Haram 14,485 Communist Party of India - Maoist (CPI-Maoist) 1,882 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) 19,245 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) 1,892 Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) 1,755 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) 1,938 Taliban 15,952 Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) 4,236 Business 3,647 Educational Institution 927 Government 6,956 Journalists & Media 135 Military 5,480 Police 13,831 Private Citizens & Property 27,807 Religious Figures/Institutions 2,790 Terrorists/Non-State Militia 1,533 Transportation 1,696 31.736 victims 14.604 7.133 5.518 3.811 2.887 1.709 1.550 964 Private Citizens Police Governement Military Business ReligiousInstitutions Transportation Terrorists EducationalIstitutions Other 4 targetswith less than 300 victims

terrorism and media
in 2015

During the analysis process, we investigated the official version of the phenomenon through data. We asked ourselves if the official version reflected exactly what we know about this phenomenon. We often know the story that is filtered and disseminated by the media.

In order to visualize a comparison, we analysed the terroristic attacks in 2015 and compared them to their mediation through the provider LexisNexis. The result is a graphical comparison for each terroristic group throughout 2015, coloured according to the ideological sources.

1000 50 100 150 200 250 300 News Attacks 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000 10000 Apr Mar Feb May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dic ISIS Taliban Boko Haram TTP Al-Qaida Al-Shabaab LRA CPI- Maoist FARC LTTE
Datasource
Terrorist group
activities in 2015

Groups activity has been recorded during 2015, tracking the number of attacks they led, in order to show the most active groups.

LexisNexis 2015
major world publications

News have been searched in LexisNexis databank, collected by group names and filtered by months and international coverage.

445 attacks 205 attacks 87 attacks 78 attacks 65 attacks 8 attacks 0 attacks 0 attacks 1036 attacks 852 attacks 21380 news 13815 news 9773 news 569 news 640 news 373 news 42 news 30 news 37445 news 28731 news Taliban ISIS Boko Haram Al-Shabaab TTP CPI-Maoist FARC LRA LTTE Al-Qaida

So, actually
is it so Isis?

The comparison between the collected data and media versions of terrorism highlights interesting aspects. In particular, media’s version tends to flatten the phenomenon complexity, simplifying all its faces. Terrorism could be considered a complex net of ideologies, people and events, different by dynamics, stories and purposes.Media reduce it to an Islamic-religious phenomenon, related to the Middle East only; they call it with names that can be easily remembered; but actually, there is a lot more behind this.

First of all, terrorism is about people, not only about terrorists but, above all, about victims. It could be considered a real war led by different intentions which bring to the same terrifying point. Terrorism can’t be reduced to an explosion in the Western area of the world, actually it is the smallest part of it. Terrorism is especially a war that some people live every day, it is a fight for ideological, political or ethnic reasons. And moreover, it is not only concerning Middle East, but also other world areas, such as Africa or Asia.