Terror attacks worldwide drop to lowest level for seven years

In Afghanistan, terrorist violence increased by 31.5 percent resulting in an 81.8 percent rise in casualties. (File photo: Reuters)
Updated 24 January 2019
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Terror attacks worldwide drop to lowest level for seven years

  • Daesh remains the most deadly group but number of attacks drops significantly
  • Afghanistan now the deadliest country due to Taliban gains and Daesh insurgency

LONDON: Afghanistan is now the deadliest country in the world for terrorism although the total number of terror attacks globally fell by a third last year.
The decrease is revealed in the latest annual report by Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center (JTIC) Global Attack Index, published on Wednesday. The index recorded 15,321 attacks by non-state armed groups in 2018 — 33.2 percent fewer than in 2017. The figure is the lowest since 2011 and the lowest since JTIC began collecting data in 2009.
Attacks by Daesh fell by 71 percent and the number of deaths more than halved in 2018. The decrease is largely due to Daesh losing territory the previous year in Iraq, and in Syria as the government regained control over key areas in and around Damascus.
But the extremists group remains the most deadly in terms of the number of civilians it killed .
Attacks in Syria fell by almost two-thirds — 63.6 percent — meaning it is no longer the most dangerous country on the planet.
That unenviable title now goes to Afghanistan, where terrorist violence increased by 31.5 percent resulting in an 81.8 percent rise in casualties. Daesh remains active in Afghanistan — as well in Pakistan and West Africa — but the figures also indicate the increasing power of the Taliban.
“In addition to periodic mass-casualty attacks by local Islamic State [Daesh] forces, the increases in both attacks and fatalities were representative of the growing strength of the Taliban, which intensified its territorial threat to the Kabul government in both rural areas and increasingly in urban centers,” said Matthew Henman, head of JTIC.
Ukraine, which is locked in a bitter civil war between nationalist Ukrainian and pro-Russian separatists, also bucked the downward trend in 2018 with attacks up by almost a fifth from 3,735 in 2017 to 4,422 in 2018. The JTIC report attributes the rise to increased activity by two pro-Russian militant groups in eastern Ukraine and says the Donetsk People’s Republic has now overtaken Daesh as the world’s most violent group in terms of recorded attacks.
In general, however, violence by militants became less prevalent in 2018. JTIC recorded attacks by non-state armed groups in 90 countries, compared to 116 countries in 2017.
JTIC says it compiles data using local, national and international sources, government and inter-governmental reports and analytical articles and seeks to verify accuracy “through detailed examining and cross-referencing of all available sources.”


Hungary hits Soros, Juncker in new media campaign

Updated 20 February 2019
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Hungary hits Soros, Juncker in new media campaign

  • The campaign provoked a furious reaction from prominent EU politicians
  • EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas dismissed the campaign as "fake news"

BUDAPEST: Hungary launched a new anti-immigration media campaign on Tuesday in which it accused George Soros and EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker of allegedly supporting illegal migration, but which Brussels immediately dismissed as "fake news".
According to the Hungarian government's Facebook page, the media blitz — funded with taxpayers' money — is expected to include billboard posters featuring images of the liberal US billionaire Soros and a smiling Juncker above the words: "You too have a right to know what Brussels is preparing".
"They want to bring in the mandatory settlement quota; weaken member states' rights to border defence; facilitate immigration with a migrant visa," it continues.
The campaign provoked a furious reaction from prominent EU politicians, including from Joseph Daul, president of the European People's Party grouping which includes both Juncker and right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party.
In a series of tweets, Daul condemned the campaign, calling its claims "deceitful, misleading and... not based on facts".
Daul denounced Hungary's attacks on Juncker and defended him as a "true Christian Democrat and a real European leader".
He went on to remind Hungary that "decisions in Brussels, including on migration, are taken collectively by EU governments" and the European Parliament, both of which include Hungarian representatives.
The presence of Fidesz within the EPP has long been a source of controversy but there have been no official moves by any of the other centre-right parties in the grouping to expel it.
Orban's government, which has frequently clashed with the EU on migration, has regularly undertaken similar campaigns in the past, including "Let's Stop Brussels" and "Don't let Soros have the last laugh."
In recent years, Orban has blasted the Hungarian-born 88-year-old philanthropist and investor as a "public enemy" for allegedly backing uncontrolled mass immigration.
At the same time, Orban's government has frequently been accused of using anti-Semitic tropes and imagery in its campaigns against Soros, claims it denies.
In recent months, pro-Orban media have also attacked Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini — the author of a critical report about Hungary that formed the basis of EU legal action against Budapest -- and Juncker's deputy Frans Timmermans.
"Brussels continues to want to support illegal immigration," Zoltan Kovacs, a government spokesman, told reporters in Budapest on Tuesday.
"Hungarians need to know about this, that's why the latest information campaign has been launched," he said, denying it is part of the upcoming European Parliament election campaign.
Kovacs said plans in "drawers in Brussels" included hikes in financial funding of NGOs and the creation of a special migration fund.
EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas dismissed the campaign as "fake news".
"The Hungary government campaign beggars belief," he told a briefing in Brussels.
"It is shocking that such a ludicrous conspiracy theory has reached the mainstream to the extent it has. There is no conspiracy. Hungarians deserve facts, not fiction," he said.