Data Centre
In June 2014 Daesh declared its so-called Caliphate across Iraq and Syria, precipitating a wave of attacks globally. In order to understand fully the impact of the establishment of the so-called Caliphate on the wider terrorism landscape, Pool Re has compiled a database of terrorist attacks from June 2014 to June 2018.
Eden Stewart's profile picture
Eden Stewart
Senior Analyst
Pool Re

Overview

4,340+
attacks in total
54.8%
of attacks estimated to cause property damage
7
attacks causing estimated property damage over $10m
100
attacks in Europe
8
attacks in Great Britain
32,053+
deaths in total
Global attacks
Region
Methodology
Target
Offender
Region
  • There were at least 4,340 attacks worldwide during the reporting period. The majority (87%) of these occurred in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Europe experienced 100 attacks (2.3% of total), of which 8 were in Great Britain.
  • At least 32,053 people were killed in terrorist attacks during the reporting period. The Middle East and North Africa accounted for almost half of the total, with at least 15,512 deaths.
  • 418 people were killed in attacks in Europe (1.3%), of which 37 were killed in Great Britain.
  • 54% of attacks globally are estimated to have resulted in property damage.
  • Attacks in Europe, North America, East Asia and the South Pacific were less likely to result in property damage than those in less developed regions.
  • Only 14% of attacks which resulted in property damage are estimated to have caused a loss greater than $1m.
  • There have been seven attacks resulting in estimated property damage of over $10m.
  • The largest single loss is assessed to be the October 2015 bombing of Metrojet Flight 9268 over Egypt.
  • The largest estimated loss from an attack in Europe was the March 2016 bombing of Zaventum Airport in Brussels.
4,340+
attacks in total
54.8%
of attacks estimated to cause property damage
32,053+
deaths in total
Regional distribution of attacks causing property damage by estimated loss band
2,059
Number of attacks in loss band: Minor ($1-$1m)
270
Number of attacks in loss band: Attritional ($1m-$10m)
7
Number of attacks in loss band: Upper Retention ($10m-$150m)
Minor ($-$1m)
Attritional ($1m-$10m)
Upper Retention ($10m-$150m)
Methodology
  • The use of firearms was the most common methodology employed by terrorists worldwide (35% of worldwide total).
  • The most common methodology seen in Europe was the use of bladed weapons, which accounted for 38% of all attacks in the region.
  • Attacks involving vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) were most likely to cause property damage (88% of such attacks).
  • Attacks involving bladed weapons were least likely to cause property damage (less than 5%)
  • Attacks employing firearms were responsible for at least 10,994 deaths, more than any other methodology type.
  • Attacks employing VBIEDs were the most lethal, killing on average 13 people per attack (total killed: 6,541).
  • VBIEDs were also responsible for more injuries than any other methodology type, wounding at least 12,060 people (28% of total)
Bladed
Explosive
Firearms
PBIED
VBIED
Vehicle
315
Number of attacks
7.3%
Proportion of attacks
4.7%
Propoortion of attacks causing property damage
940
Number of deaths
2.9
Average lethality
1,296
Number of attacks
29.8%
Proportion of attacks
79.8%
Proportion of attacks causing property damage
4,518
Number of deaths
4.9
Average lethality
1,517
Number of attacks
34.9%
Proportion of attacks
27.5%
Proportion of attacks causing property damage
10,994
Number of deaths
7.2
Average lethality
515
Number of attacks
11.8%
Proportion of attacks
88.4%
Proportion of attacks causing property damage
6,541
Number of deaths
12.7
Average lethality
520
Number of attacks
11.9%
Proportion of attacks
88.4%
Proportion of attacks causing property damage
7,882
Number of deaths
15.1
Average lethality
48
Number of attacks
1.1%
Proportion of attacks
25%
Proportion of attacks causing property damage
160
Number of deaths
3.3
Average lethality
Target
  • Deliberate attacks against property were relatively rare, comprising only 1.3% of recorded events. However, over half of recorded attacks resulted in some property damage regardless of the intent to do so.
  • Excluding the deliberate targeting of property, attacks against crowded places (71%) and critical national infrastructure (67%) were most likely to result in property damage.
  • Attacks on crowded places resulted in nearly half of all deaths (45%).
  • Attacks on Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) resulted in the highest number of casualties on average (13 per attack), followed by symbolic targets and crowded places (12 and 11 deaths per attack respectively).
1.3%
of attacks exclusively targeting property
45%
of global deaths caused by attacks on crowded places
13
deaths on average per attack
Attacks
Attacks causing property damage
Deaths
Offender
  • Islamist terrorists were the most active offender type, responsible for 74% of attacks worldwide.
  • Daesh were the most active Islamist group, responsible for 34% of all attacks worldwide and 47% of all attacks attributed to Islamists
  • Attacks by Islamist terrorists were most likely to cause property damage (60% of attacks by Islamists). This is likely due to the greater use by Islamists of methodologies involving explosives.
  • Islamist extremists were responsible for almost 90% of global deaths. This reflects not only the preponderance of attacks attributed to Islamist extremists, but also the greater lethality of methodologies employed by Islamist extremists, and their selection of target types to maximise casualties. Islamist extremist attacks resulted an average of 9 deaths per attack, compared to 2-3 for other offender types.
  • Sectarian/separatist* actors were responsible for 15% of global attacks and 5.3% of global deaths. Around 36% of attacks by sectarian/separatist terrorists caused property damage
  • XLW actors were responsible for 5% of global attacks and 1.2% of global deaths. Around 40% of attacks by XLW terrorists caused property damage
  • XRW actors were responsible for 1% of global attacks and 0.3% of global deaths. Around 30% of attacks by XRW terrorists caused property damage
*terrorists motivated by the desire for secessionist polities based on cultural, ethnic or racial differences
89%
Islamist extremists responsibility for global attacks
47%
of attacks committed by Islamist extremists were attributed to Daesh and its followers
1%
XRW responsibility for global attacks
Global Attacks. Offender chart

Europe

Attacks in Europe
Europe experienced 100 attacks during the period, around 2.3% of the global total.
While 38% of countries in the region witnessed at least one incident, over half of total attacks occurred in just three countries; France, Germany and the UK. France saw the highest number of attacks by a wide margin, accounting for 33% of all attacks in Europe during the period.
100
attacks in Europe during period
2.3%
of total global attacks occured in Europe
38%
of European countries suffered at least one attack
33%
of all attacks in Europe during the period occurred in France
Methodology
Target
Offender
Methodology
  • The most common attack methodology involved the use of bladed weapons (38% of attacks in Europe), while vehicle attacks accounted for a further 13%. This reflects the prevalence of attacks by 'inspired' Islamist terrorists employing low-complexity methodologies with widely available bladed weapons.
  • The most lethal attack during the period in Europe was the November 2015 attacks in Paris, resulting in 130 deaths (30% of all deaths in Europe).
Bladed
Explosive
Firearms
PBIED
VBIED
Vehicle
Bladed
The incidence of bladed attacks was much higher in Europe than worldwide
38
Number of attacks
5.2%
of attacks causing property damage
Explosives
Explosives were most likely to be used in attacks by XLW actors in Europe
18
Number of attacks
55.5%
of attacks causing property damage
Firearms
The November 2015 Paris attack was the deadliest attack in Europe involving firearms
22
Number of attacks
9.1%
of attacks causing property damage
PBIED
The May 2017 Manchester Arena bombing was the deadliest single methodology attack in Europe involving a PBIED
3
Number of attacks
66.6%
of attacks causing property damage
VBIED
The June 2017 Champs Elysee attack was the only VBIED attack in Europe during the period. The explosive device caused no casualties other than the driver.
1
Number of attacks
0%
of attacks causing property damage
Vehicle
The July 2016 Nice truck attack was the deadliest vehicle attack worldwide during the period
13
Number of attacks
38.4%
of attacks causing property damage
Target
  • Reflecting the global picture, Police, Military and Government targets were the most common target type (49% of European attacks), followed by crowded places (22% of European attacks). Excluding the deliberate targeting of property, attacks on crowded places were most likely to result in property damage (40%).
49%
of attacks in Europe were against Police, Military and Government targets
40%
of attacks on crowded places in Europe resulted in property damage
Attacks
Attacks causing property damage
Offender
  • XLW terrorists were responsible for 13% of attacks in Europe during the reporting period. Attacks by the XLW were most likely to cause property damage (71%); extreme left-wing groups in the region typically mounted symbolic attacks employing small explosive devices against totemic targets.
  • XRW terrorists were responsible for 9% of attacks in Europe during the reporting period. Europe was the single largest source of far-right terrorism globally (30% of total)
65%
of attacks in Europe were by Islamist extremists
30%
of attacks by XRW terrorists occurred in Europe
71%
of attacks by XLW terrorists caused property damage
Attacks in Europe. Offender chart
European Islamist attacker profiles
  • During the period, there was a shift from ‘directed attacks’ (those conceived and planned abroad) to inspired attacks (those conducted by individuals with little direct connection to overseas terror groups) in continental Europe. In 2015, 57% of individuals involved in Islamist attacks were directed by overseas terrorist groups. In 2016 this fell to 19%. To date in 2018, all attacks in continental Europe were by inspired individuals. In Great Britain, active involvement of overseas groups in attack planning appears limited to the Manchester Arena bombing
  • Individuals involved in Islamist attacks in Europe frequently displayed common characteristics. 44% were citizens of the targeted country. At least 34% had a criminal conviction, and 38% were known to police or security services as a potential terror risk.
90+
Islamist extremists have been involved in attacks in Europe during the period
European Islamist attacker profiles. Inspired, Had a criminal conviction, Identified as a potential terrorism risk and Citizen of a targeted country
Low complexity attacks in Europe
The increase in low-complexity attacks by Islamist terrorists corresponded with wider changes in the Islamist extremist landscape; extremist travel and attendance at overseas training camps became more difficult from 2013. Security initiatives and intelligence operations successfully disrupted sophisticated attack plans and terror cells with overseas links. This led Islamist extremists to call for lone operatives in the West to mount low complexity attacks without direction or direct affiliation to overseas groups. This strategy was propagated in extremist media and by senior leaders, and particularly by Daesh spokesman Mohammed al-Adnani.
50%
of attacks during the period involved bladed weapons or vehicles
Total Attacks
Attacks involving bladed weapons or vehicles

The global picture

Most lethal attacks 2014-2018
The first half of 2018 saw the number of terror attacks worldwide continue to fall, with a year-on-year decline of almost 12%. This suggests a trend towards lower levels of terrorist violence globally, with 2017 recording an 11% annual decrease in the number of attacks over the previous year. However, 2017 saw three of the five deadliest attacks to occur during the period, all of which were attributable to Islamist extremists.
Click on the map hotspots for more information.
Methodology
Target
Offender
Methodology
  • There have been relatively small changes in the distribution of attack methodologies employed worldwide over the period. Firearms and explosive devices have consistently been the most commonly employed weapons. The use of bladed weapons and vehicles spiked in 2015 due to the wave of low complexity attacks in Israel and Palestine. Since then, the frequency of these methodologies has returned to period-average figures, respectively around 7% and 1% of total attacks.
  • The use of firearms was the most commonly employed methodology in every region except Europe, East Asia and the South Pacific where firearms are generally more strictly controlled. These regions also saw a higher-than-average proportion of attacks involving bladed weapons.
  • Attacks in Europe, North America, East Asia and the South Pacific were less likely to result in property damage than those in less developed regions.
  • The relative prevalence of bladed attacks in developed economies contributed to overall lower levels of property damage in these regions.
  • Africa, South Asia and the Middle East saw a high percentage of attacks employing vehicle or person-borne explosive devices, likely due to the widespread availability and knowledge of explosives.
  • Attacks resulting in property damage losses of over $10m were concentrated in the Middle East, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. This was mainly due to the greater use of large explosive devices in built-up areas in those regions.
Global attacks by region broken down by % methodology, target, and offender
63.8%
of VBIED attacks occurred in the Middle East and North Africa
13.8
Bladed attacks were most lethal in East Asia, causing an average of 13.8 deaths per attack
10.2
Vehicle attacks were most lethal in Europe, causing an average of 10.2 deaths per attack
Bladed
Explosive
Firearms
Other
PBIED
VBIED
Vehicle
Target
  • All regions saw Police, Military and Government targets attacked more frequently than other target types. This was particularly pronounced in Latin America and Russia and CIS States. These regions also saw proportionally fewer attacks on crowded places than elsewhere.
  • Regions with high levels of Islamist extremist violence generally saw greater numbers of attacks on crowded places, reflecting the intent of Islamist terrorists to inflect mass casualties
Global attacks by region broken down by % methodology, target, and offender
51.3%
of attacks on crowded places occurred in the Middle East and North Africa
9.6%
of attacks on CNI occurred in Latin America
1.0%
of attacks on crowded places occurred in North America
PMG
Crowded place
Symbolic
CNI
Individual
Property
Offender
  • Only Latin America saw negligible activity by Islamist extremists, while the South Pacific (Australia) exclusively witnessed attacks by Islamists. Other regions displayed varying levels of diversity in offender types.
  • XLW and XRW terrorists accounted for 5% and 1% of global attacks respectively. XLW activity was overwhelming concentrated in Latin America, India and the Philippines, while XRW attacks occurred almost exclusively in western countries.
Global attacks by region broken down by % methodology, target, and offender
84.2%
of attacks in Latin America attributed to XLW extremists
33%
of attacks in North America attributed to XRW extremists
16.6%
of attacks in Middle East and North Africa attributed to Sectarian/Separatist
Islamist
XRW
XLW
Sectarian/Separatist
Other
Unknown
Proportion of global attacks attributed to Daesh and followers by year
More than a third (34%) of global attacks during the period were attributed to Daesh and its followers. This rose from 11% in 2014, peaking at 44% in 2016, before decreasing as the group’s Levantine heartland came under increased pressure from local and international forces. The reduction in Daesh’s capabilities in Iraq and Syria was a major driver of the improved global picture.
34%
of global attacks were attributed to Daesh and its followers
Number of global attacks attributed to Daesh and followers
% of global attacks attributed to Daesh
Average number of attacks worldwide per month
The highest proportion of attacks each year occurred in June, suggesting the period around Ramadan experienced higher numbers of terrorist attacks.
118
The month of May had the highest monthly average of attacks

IFTRIP

135
attacks in IFTRIP member countries during the reporting period
88%
of attacks in IFTRIP Member countries attributed to Islamist extremists
35%
of attacks in IFTRIP Member countries employed bladed weapons
28%
of attacks in IFTRIP Member countries resulted in property damage
The International Forum of Terrorism Risk (Re)Insurance Pools was established in October 2016 to foster closer ties and greater collaboration between the world’s terrorism reinsurance entities. There are 13 member countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, UK, USA, Russia, Australia, Namibia, South Africa. Find out more at www.iftrip.org
Since mid-2014, there have been 135 attacks in IFTRIP member countries. Most of these (88%) were committed by Islamist extremists, with the XRW responsible for a further 7%. Reflective of European trends, the annual number of attacks increased steeply from 2015, before dropping significantly in the first half of 2018. The most commonly employed methodology was the use of bladed weapons (35% of attacks), with vehicle attacks accounting for a further 15%. The prevalence of these lower complexity methodologies is attributable to both the increase in ‘inspired’ terrorists conducting attacks with little training or direction, and the counter-terrorism capabilities of member countries, resulting in fewer successful sophisticated attacks. The number of attacks resulting in property damage was also considerably lower than the global average (28% in IFTRIP, 71% globally), again reflecting the high proportion of attacks employing low complexity methodologies less likely to cause property damage. In total, IFTRIP countries accounted for only 1.9% of global deaths during the period despite representing almost 7% of countries in the world.

Global Islamists

Click or touch the map below to find out more about about the various Islamist groups.
Daesh Core
Daesh Sinai Province
Daesh Khorasan Province (ISK)
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
Boko Haram
Al Shabaab
Close
Daesh Core
Since declaring its so-called Caliphate in June 2014, Daesh has been the most violent terrorist group worldwide, accounting for 34% of global attacks.
The vast majority of these have occurred within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, primarily in Iraq and Syria. The number attacks attributed to Daesh escalated significantly as Iraqi and multinational forces retook territory held by the group; in 2015, the group was responsible for 86 attacks in the MENA region. In 2016, this rose to 699. While continuing action against Daesh by Coalition forces reduced the group’s capabilities, it was still able to carry out 410 attacks in the region during 2017. Daesh has now lost most of the territory it held in Iraq and Syria and now exercises control over only residual strips of land in Western Syria and on the Iraqi border. Thus, its ability to finance, plan and execute attacks has been significantly diminished. Nonetheless, the group continues to mount frequent attacks in the region (104 attacks in the first half of 2018).
34%
of all attacks in the period were attributed to Daesh, most of these in Iraq and Syria
Since 2014, Daesh’s core in the Levant has encourage attacks in the West and elsewhere with considerable success, employing sophisticated propaganda to incite remote individuals to undertake independent attack planning. As the group has lost ground in Iraq and Syria, its propaganda became increasingly aggressive and targeted towards prospective ‘lone-wolves’ in distant regions. Their efforts enjoyed some success as evinced by the significant increase in ‘inspired’ attacks in the West from 2016 onwards. However, Daesh’s ability to produce high quality propaganda has declined as its territory in the Levant came under pressure. While the group still issues significant volumes of extremist content for global consumption, its quality and coherency has decline as the group’s media operations became decentralised more poorly resourced.
Close
Daesh Sinai Province
Since Ansar Bait al Maqdis pledged allegiance to al Baghdadi in November 2014, becoming Wilayat Sinai, the group has proved to be one of Daesh’s most resilient and effective affiliates.
Responsible for almost 9% of global attacks attributed to Daesh, Sinai Province has been Daesh’s most active regional franchise. The group’s attacks have employed a range of methodologies and are directed primarily at military and religious minority targets in the Sinai and, to a lesser extent, on the Egyptian mainland. This includes the November 2017 attack on Sufi Mosque in El Arish which killed 311, the third deadliest attack during the period. The group has also claimed attacks on foreign targets in the country, including two low complexity attacks against European tourists in the resort of Hurghada, and the bombing of the Italian consulate in Cairo in July 2015.
9%
of all attacks attributed to Daesh were carried out by its Sinai province, making it Daesh’s most active regional affiliate
Most significantly, the group also claimed responsibility for the bombing of Metrojet Flight 9268 over Egypt in October 2015. This was the only attack which resulted in a hull loss and the deaths of all passengers during the period. It is also estimated to be the single costliest attack. The total number of attacks attributed to the group rose significantly from 2015, peaking in 2016 at 56, before falling slightly in 2017 to 49. However, following the 2017 El Arish attack, the group came under significant pressure from Egyptian security forces, and carried out only six attacks in the first half of 2018.
Close
Daesh Khorasan Province (ISKP)
Daesh’s Khorasan Province was the group’s second most active regional affiliate, responsible for at least 117 attacks during the period, more than 7% of Daesh’s global total.
Most of these have occurred since June 2016, although sporadic attacks by ISKP started in April 2015. Since 2016, attacks by the group have steadily escalated, and in 2018 it was responsible for over 24% of all attacks attributed to Daesh worldwide.Police, military and government targets are most frequently attacked, likely a reflection of ISKP’s rivalry with the Taliban, with the two organisations competing to supplant the authority of the state. However, in contrast to the Taliban, ISKP also frequently target symbolic sites associated with religious minorities, especially Afghanistan’s Shia Hazara communities.
24%
of all attacks attributed to Daesh were carried out by its Khorasan province in 2018
While ISKP has conducted some attacks against Western targets in Afghanistan, and its propaganda has called for attacks in the West, the group remains very largely focused on Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. Nonetheless, Afghanistan has become a major source of Daesh propaganda which could incite individuals overseas to execute attacks abroad independently.
Close
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
Despite French and allied intervention in the region, AQIM remains highly active, accounting for 56% of global attacks attributed to AQ.
It is also likely al Qaeda’s wealthiest franchise due to its control of smuggling routes and the ransoming of kidnapped Westerners. However, the affiliate lacks cohesion and consists of various armed groups which coalesce to pursue mutual interests. AQIM’s Algerian leadership remains nominally dedicated to overthrowing the Algerian Government, but due to the country’s sophisticated counter-terrorism apparatus, the group has mainly conducted attacks elsewhere in the region since 2014. French-led security forces in Mali are the primary target for attacks by AQIM (accounting for 61% of total attacks by the affiliate), however, it also targets crowded places frequented by Westerners.
56%
of attacks attributed to AQ were carried out by AQIM
Ambushes involving firearms, IEDs and mortars are the most common methodologies employed, but the group also uses VBIEDs and PBIEDs. AQIM is believed to have extra-regional ties with Islamist groups in East Africa and the Middle East, and with North African communities in Europe, from which it may receive some funding. However, the group appears overwhelmingly focused on the Sahel region and attacking Western interests there rather than targeting Western homelands directly.
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Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
AQAP is potentially AQ’s most technically sophisticated affiliate and is a major source of Islamist propaganda. It was responsible for almost 30% of global attacks attributed to AQ.
TThe group is based primarily in Yemen, where it has exploited the country’s weak state authority and fractured politics to accrue influence and resources. Despite claiming responsibility for the January 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in Paris, attacks by the group during the period occurred almost exclusively in Yemen. There, it has pursued a policy of engagement with the country’s southern tribes, effectively positioning itself as part of the wider anti-Houthi movement.
30%
of attacks attributed to AQ were carried out by AQAP
This has granted it considerable operational freedom in the country, despite pressure from Western and Gulf forces. Notwithstanding its current regional focus, the affiliate maintains the intent to target Western interests. It has historically targeted aviation and is believed to have considerable explosives expertise at its disposal, particularly in the manufacture of non-metal content IEDs which would pass airport security.
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Boko Haram
Boko Haram has consistently been one of the most active terrorist groups worldwide. The group was responsible for nearly 8% of recorded attacks worldwide since June 2014, and over 40% of attacks in sub-Saharan Africa.
A major counter-insurgency campaign initiated by Nigeria and its neighbours in 2015 failed to have a significant impact on the number of attacks mounted by Boko Haram; 2016 saw a 20% increase in the number of attacks attributed to the group on the previous year. However, the group’s activity has become more diffuse, with Nigeria’s neighbours, particularly Chad and Cameroon, witnessing big increases in the number of attacks over the period. The region’s borders are highly porous, and the 2015 multinational offensive may have simply displaced elements of Boko Haram to neighbouring countries where they have subsequently established themselves.
8%
of global attacks were attributed to Boko Haram
The group’s increasing factionalism may also have contributed to its dispersion. There are now believed to be three distinct factions operating under the Boko Haram rubric, two of which are nominally affiliated with Daesh. However, the group remains almost entirely focused on local issues and displays little appetite for extra-regional plots.
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Al Shabaab
Al Shabaab remains highly active in Somalia and frequently carries out attacks in neighbouring countries. The group was responsible for 32% of attacks in sub-Saharan Africa since mid-2014, and over 5% of attacks globally.
While the group is focused primarily on regional actors, it has been linked to other Islamist terrorist groups overseas and has counted a notable number of westerners in its ranks. The group has displayed relatively sophisticated tradecraft, especially in the manufacture of IEDs (45% of attacks attributed to the group involved PBIEDs).
5%
of global attacks were attributed to Al Shabaab
It is believed to be responsible for the deadliest attack since 9/11, the October 2017 Mogadishu truck bombing which killed at least 587 people. It also claimed responsibility for the Daallo Airlines Flight 159 bombing in February 2016. Despite its focus on local issues, Al Shabaab has repeatedly displayed intent to target Western interests in the region, and its connections to Somali communities in the US and Europe could see individuals affiliated with the group attempt to carry out attacks in the West.