it's not so isis

The complex shape of terrorism
with its ideological vertices,
illustrated through data.


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 terrorist 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.


Terrorism, a complex shape

Terrorist attacks, as in violent actions against community are old and deeply eradicated 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

terrorist 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 terrorist 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.


of attacks since 2007

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.

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 terrorist attacks distribution from 1998 to 2015 all over the world, always focusing on the amount of victims and on the three different origin points.

+349% of victims after 2007

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.

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 majority of the victims 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.

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.

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.


The terrorist

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.

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.


45% of the groups
are religious