The entire ‘war on terror’ has been a lie – and these charts prove it

Support us and go ad-free

We were told long ago that the “war on terror” would make the world a safer place. But after 14 years of permanent warfare, terrorist attacks around the world have escalated by a staggering 6,500%.

If its objective was to end terrorism, the “war on terror” has abjectly failed. Since it was launched in 2001, terror attacks – and the number of people killed by them – have sky-rocketed:

Deaths from Terrorism 2000-2014_branded

The above image comes from the Global Terrorism Index 2015, published by the Institute for Economics and Peace. The same index notes that 78% of all deaths from terrorism last year took place in just five countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria.

  1. Iraq

Iraq takes first place in the index, with a shocking 9,929 terrorist fatalities in 2014 – the highest ever recorded in any country. The chart below (based on figures from the index) clearly shows the surge in terrorist attacks in Iraq starting soon after the 2003 invasion:
iraq2. Afghanistan

In second place is Afghanistan, which became the first target of the “war on terror” when Operation Enduring Freedom was launched a few weeks after 9/11. One of the aims of the operation was to stop Afghanistan from becoming a terrorist haven. Instead, the 14-year intervention has overseen an increase in terrorist incidents of more than 5,000%, from 30 in 2002 to 1591 in 2014:

afghanistan3. Nigeria

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

With a year-on-year increase of more than 300% in terrorist fatalities, Nigeria comes third in the index. Together, Boko Haram and ISIL were responsible for just over half of all claimed global terrorism fatalities in 2014:

nigeria4. Pakistan

Pakistan has seen an increase in terror attacks of more than 4,000% since 2002. Mehdi Hasan notes that, in the 14 years before 9/11, there was just one suicide attack on Pakistani soil – in the 14 years since, there have been 486 suicide bombings, killing more than 6,000 people.

pakistan5. Syria

Syria’s civil war began in 2011, which is made clearly visible by the graph. What is not yet clear is whether – and how – the year of coalition air strikes will affect the numbers of terrorist incidents.

syriaThe war on terror creates more war – and more terror 

Of the five countries experiencing the most terrorism last year, “only Nigeria did not experience either US air strikes or a military occupation in that year,” notes journalist Paul Gottinger in his analysis of global terrorism data.

In some cases, such as Iraq, it is widely acknowledged that Western intervention led to a surge in terrorism; British intelligence and US government reports have admitted as much (even Tony Blair came close to letting it slip), and al-Qaeda strategist Abu Musab Al-Suri has celebrated the results:

The war in Iraq almost single-handedly rescued the entire Jihadi movement.

Decades of failed Western interventions have caused extraordinary suffering to the people of Iraq, perhaps killing as many as 2.9 million people. As Mehdi Hasan points out in the New Statesman: “If bombing ‘worked’, Iraq would have morphed into a Scandinavia-style utopia long ago.” Instead, the country is in chaos – breaking records for terrorist activity while ever more foreign fighters flood into the country day-by-day.

In other cases, like Syria, the connection is less clear. What is accepted, even by American intelligence agencies is that, after the deaths of hundreds of civilians and thousands of fighters from coalition bombs, Daesh (Isis) is certainly no weaker now than it was a year ago; in fact, its fighter ranks may have swelled from 20,000-31,500 to at least 80,000 in the past year.

The Global Terrorism Index has done a statistical analysis and found two factors to be most closely associated with terrorism:

These are the levels of political violence committed by the state, and the level of armed conflict within a country. The report finds that […] 88% of all terrorist attacks between 1989 and 2014 occurred in countries that were experiencing or involved in violent conflicts.

If there’s one thing the “war on terror” has excelled at, it is creating more war – and if there is a second, it is creating more terror.

On Thursday, David Cameron set out his ‘moral case’ for launching British airstrikes in Syria, claiming they will “make us safer”. But it is abundantly clear that the war on terror has not made us safer. If defeating terrorism is the aim, then we need to start fighting for creation, not destruction.

 

Featured image via The US Army/Flickr

First chart via the Global Terrorism Index 2015, the Institute for Economics and Peace.

Subsequent charts by the author, based on data from the Global Terrorism Index 2015.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed