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To find terrorism, look for graft

Last year, 17,958 people were killed in terrorist attacks, 61% more than the previous year. More than 80% of all deaths from terrorist attacks occurred in five of the world’s most corrupt countries — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Syria.

That’s according to the Global Terrorism Index produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace. A copy of the index is here (pdf).

The definition of terrorism the institute uses is: “The threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.”

The Global Terrorism Index scores 162 countries, covering 99.6% of the world’s population.

“The three main factors associated with terrorism are state sponsored violence such as extra-judicial killings, group grievances, and high levels of criminality,” the report said.

“High levels of criminality” suggest the prevalence of corruption. The numbers support that.

Here are the 20 countries that had the worst terrorism problems last year (worst is first on the list). The rank of each on Transparency International’s 2014 corruption perceptions index is in parentheses.

1   Iraq (170)

2   Afghanistan (172)

3   Pakistan (126)

4   Nigeria (136)

5   Syria (159)

6   India (85)

7   Somalia (174)

8   Yemen ((161)

9   Philippines (85)

10  Thailand (85)

11  Russia (136)

12  Kenya (145)

13  Egypt (94)

14  Lebanon (136)

15  Libya (166)

16  Colombia (94)

17  Turkey (64)

18  Democratic Republic of the Congo (154)

19  Sudan (173)

20  South Sudan (171)

The 20 countries have an average rank on the corruption perceptions index of 124 (the CPI ranks 175 countries). The five countries accounting for 80% of the world’s terrorism — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Syria — have an average CPI rank of 152.

The Global Terrorism Index report said poverty rates, levels of schools attendance, and most economic factors have no association with terrorism. That probably means lawlessness is the key.

Most terrorist attacks use explosives. Since 2000, only 5% were suicide attacks, the report said.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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