The group’s ability to sustain its ‘nation state’ remains very much in doubt, political and military analysts say.
The number of global terror attacks and casualties increased between 2013 and 2014, according to a new report by the US state Department.
The figures contained in the department’s annual global terrorism report released on Friday say that nearly 33,000 people were killed in almost 13,500 attacks around the world in 2014.
That’s up from just over 18,000 deaths in nearly 10,000 attacks in 2013, it said. Twenty-four Americans were among those killed in 2014, the report said. Abductions soared from 3,137 in 2013 to 9,428 in 2014, the report said.
Attacks largely at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and Boko Haram raised the number of terror acts by more than a third, nearly doubled the number of deaths and nearly tripled the number of kidnappings.
The report attributes the rise in attacks to increased terror activity in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Nigeria and the sharp spike in deaths to a growth in exceptionally lethal attacks in those countries and elsewhere.
There were 20 attacks that killed more than 100 people each in 2014, compared to just two in 2013, according to the figures.
Among the 20 mass casualty attacks in 2014 were the December attack by the Pakistani Taliban on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, that killed at least 150 people, and the June attack by ISIL fighters on a prison in Mosul, Iraq, in which 670 Shia prisoners died.
The state department’s counterterrorism coordinator said the numbers don’t reflect improvements by the US and its partners in stamping out terrorism financing, improving information sharing, impeding foreign fighters and forming a coalition to fight the ISIL group. “We have made progress,” Ambassador Tina Kaidanow said.
Terror attacks took place in 95 countries in 2014, but were concentrated in the Middle east, South Asia, and west Africa. Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Nigeria accounted for more than 60 percent of the attacks and, if Syria is included, roughly 80 percent of the fatalities, the report found.
Friday’s report noted the “unprecedented seizure” of territory in Iraq and Syria by the ISIL group last year along with its continued demonstrated ability to recruit foreign fighters to join its cause and the emergence of self-proclaimed affiliates notably in Libya, Egypt, and Nigeria.
It also pointed out a rise in the number of so-called “lone wolf” attacks in the West and the use of more extreme methods of violence by fighters to repress and frighten communities under their control.
At the same time, the report said regional and international efforts to counter ISIL fighters and other groups were starting to make inroads.