Conflict continues to be the primary driver of terrorist activity for the top terrorist countries according to the 2020 Global Terrorism Index.

Top 10 Terrorist Countries: Global Terrorism Index 2020

The 2020 Global Terrorism Index is now available.

Five of the ten top terrorist countries are classified as being in a state of war:

The remaining five countries were involved in minor conflicts.

Other specific drivers of terrorism among these ten countries include:

  • Prolonged insurgencies in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Somalia
  • Exacerbated tensions between splinter terror groups and national governments in Yemen
  • The shifting activity of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria

10. The Philippines

Terrorism deaths in the Philippines declined for the second consecutive year in 2019, to 284 deaths. Terror-related incidents also decreased by 18 per cent from 424 in 2018 to 348 in 2019.

Despite a slight reduction in terrorist activity, the Philippines remains the only Southeast Asian country to be ranked in the ten countries most impacted by terrorism.

The communist New People’s Army (NPA) was the most active terrorist organisation in the Philippines and was responsible over 35% of deaths and 38% of terror-related incidents in 2019, at 98 and 132 respectively.

9. Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) recorded a resurgence of terrorist activity in 2019 after a fall in deaths the previous year. Deaths from terrorism increased by 36% to 559 deaths in 2019, compared to 410 in 2018.

Terror-related incidents also rose from 135 in 2018 to 213 in 2019, marking a 58% increase. This increase in terrorist activity was driven by renewed action from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and community militias known as Mayi Mayi groups, as well as the emergence of four new militias.

8. India

There were 558 terrorist attacks and 277 deaths from terrorism recorded in India in 2019. This marks a fall in both deaths and attacks of over 20% since 2018.

Compared to other countries amongst the ten most impacted, India faces a wider range of terrorist groups, with Islamist, communist, and separatist groups active across the country.

Maoists, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) were responsible for over two thirds of the total deaths and almost half of the total attacks.

However, India has the lowest number of terrorism deaths among the ten countries most affected by terrorism, and the lowest lethality rate of attacks.

7. Pakistan

In 2019, Pakistan recorded its lowest number of terror-related deaths since 2006, declining by 45% from 543 in 2018 to 300 in 2019. Terrorist activity has continued to decline steadily since peaking in 2013 with the number of deaths and incidents falling by 87 and 86%, respectively.

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was the deadliest terror group in 2019, overtaking the Khorasan Chapter of the Islamic State.

TTP was responsible for 73 terror-related deaths in 2019, followed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Hizb-ul-Ahrar (HuA) who were responsible for 21 and 20 deaths, respectively.

Collectively, the three deadliest groups accounted for 38 per cent of terror-related deaths in 2019.

6. Yemen

Deaths from terrorism in Yemen rose to 555 in 2019, a 31% increase from 2018.  Yemen also experienced a 67% increase in total terrorist attacks, driven primarily by an increase in violence by Ansar Allah.

Ansar Allah was the deadliest terror group in Yemen for the fourth consecutive year, accounting for 75 per cent of deaths from terrorism. However, Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) also remains in active conflict in the region.

5. Somalia

In 2019, terrorism deaths in Somalia fell to their lowest level since 2013, declining by 11.9 per cent to 569 deaths when compared to the prior year. Terror-related incidents also fell by 16 per cent to 239 reported attacks in 2019.

Al-Shabaab was responsible for 88 per cent of all deaths in 2019, which resulted in 503 fatalities. Jabha East Africa was the only other active terror group in Somalia, claiming responsibility for 12 deaths in 2019.

The group pledged allegiance to ISIL in 2016 and since then has launched small-scale attacks causing 63 fatalities.

4. Syria

Following the de-escalation of conflict in Syria, deaths from terrorism decreased by 44% to 517 in 2019. Despite this decline in deaths from terrorism, terror-related incidents increased by 36% in 2019.

This increase in terrorist activity was primarily driven by an increase in attacks by the three deadliest groups in Syria: ISIL, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

Collectively, these three groups accounted for 74% of terror-related deaths in 2019. However, ISIL remained the deadliest terrorist group in Syria for the sixth consecutive year.

3. Nigeria

Nigeria is the third country most impacted by terrorism. Yet, total deaths from terrorism in Nigeria fell to 1,245 in 2019, a 39% decrease from the prior year.

Terror-related incidents also fell by 27%, marking the lowest level of terrorist violence in Nigeria since 2011. Boko Haram, Nigeria’s deadliest terrorist group, recorded an increase in terrorist activity mainly targeted at civilians by 25% from the prior year.

Additionally, Fulani extremists were responsible for 26% of terror-related deaths in Nigeria at 325 fatalities.

2. Iraq

Iraq maintained its position as the second most impacted country by terrorism.

However, the country recorded a reduction in terror-related deaths for the third consecutive year in 2019, with less than a thousand deaths recorded for the first time since the US invasion in 2003.

The number of deaths from terrorism decreased from 1,054 in 2018 to 564 in 2019, a 46% decrease. However, terrorist activity in Iraq continues to be dominated by ISIL, with the group accounting for 66% of all deaths in 2019

1. Afghanistan

Despite a decline in terrorist deaths from 2018 to 2019, Afghanistan remains the country most impacted by terrorism for the second consecutive year. Afghanistan accounted for 41% of deaths from terrorism globally, with the Taliban being responsible for 87% of these fatalities.

During 2019, deaths from terrorism declined by 22%, falling to 5,725.

While this reduction provides some optimism, it is the second highest number of deaths recorded from terrorism in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion.

The Taliban remains the most active terrorist group in Afghanistan, however, the Khorasan Chapter of the Islamic State, the ISIL-affiliate active in Afghanistan, was the second deadliest terror group in the country.



Vision of Humanity

Editorial Staff

Vision of Humanity

Vision of Humanity is brought to you by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), by staff in our global offices in Sydney, New York, The Hague, Harare and Mexico. Alongside maps and global indices, we present fresh perspectives on current affairs reflecting our editorial philosophy.