Terror attacks worldwide soared by 35% in 2014 – with 81% more fatalities, according to a US State Department report released Friday.
Overall, in 2014, there were 13,463 terror attacks resulting in 32,700 deaths.
More than 9,400 people were kidnapped or held hostage by terrorists – three times more than in 2013.
Washington attributed the surge "largely due to activity in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Nigeria," Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism Tina S. Kaidanow stated during a special press briefing on the report.
"More than 60% of all attacks took place in five countries: Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Nigeria, and 78% of all fatalities due to terrorist attacks also took place in five countries: Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria," she added.
"The increase in total fatalities was, in part, a result of certain attacks that were exceptionally lethal – in 2014, there were 20 attacks that killed more than 100 people, compared to two such attacks in 2013."
Kaidanow then discussed the rise of terror over 2014. Highlights include:
- While Al-Qaeda has specifically weakened, "weak or failed governance" has led to the rise of other extremist groups – e.g. Islamic State (ISIS) and affiliates – in "Yemen, Syria, Libya, Nigeria, and Iraq," and inspired "tens of thousands" of foreign nationals to flock to these countries to learn terror tactics;
- Some 16,000 foreign nationals from 90 countries flooded Syria by December 2014 to join terror groups, and that, as such, Syria has become the epicenter for terror and the exportation of terror worldwide;
- The international coalition against ISIS has "dealt significant blows" to the group, but has not wrested territory away from it;
- ISIS is unique in its approach to media as a terror tool;
- Boko Haram has developed along the same lines with ISIS, and shares with it "a penchant for the use of brutal tactics, which include stonings, indiscriminate mass casualty attacks, and systematic oppression of women and girls, including enslavement, torture, and rape";
- A marked increase in "lone wolf" attacks in the West; the difficulty of attributing these attacks as ISIS or Al Qaeda-linked; and that "these attacks may presage a new era in which centralized leadership of a terrorist organization matters less, group identity is more fluid, and violent extremist narratives focus on a wider range of alleged grievances and enemies"; and
- Acknowledgement that Iran and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards is exporting terror, and is behind "Lebanese Hizballah, several Iraqi Shia militant groups, Hamas, and Palestine Islamic Jihad."
The US State Department's proposed solutions included capitalizing on international partners to ensure that terrorism is stopped from spreading and that foreign national are apprehended – whether upon leaving their home countries to the Middle East or upon their return.
The full report is advertised on the US State Department website – but, as of Saturday night, the link on their homepage to the full text renders a "page not found" message.