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Global Terrorism and Counterterrorism Efforts


Over the last decade, terrorism has been one of the most controversial issues facing countries across the globe. The US, for instance, has had to come up with better countermeasures to fight off terrorists, both international and domestic. One important question that lingers is, “what exactly is international or global terrorism?” According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) (2021), international terrorism involves criminal or violent acts committed by groups or individuals who are associated or inspired by either foreign terrorist groups or state-sponsored nations. It is that extreme type of radicalism that is not limited to a country’s boundaries about the methods used, schemes, targeted group, or the terrorist’s location. It is an organized crime that has been enhanced by factors such as technology, lax laws and measures, globalization, and social media platforms used to radicalize, recruit and incite people to help out in launching the international attacks. Since the 9/11 terrorist attack on the US, countries paid close attention to terrorism and changed their strategies to counter it, making this menace a serious global issue. International terrorism has gone through the first to fifth wave, with the earliest ones including the assassination of Sarajevo that led to the First World War (Ghosh, 2014). These waves have advanced to the modern forms of terrorism seeing with international groups such as Nigeria’s Boko Haram, ISIS and Al Qaeda. An instance of international terrorism include Israel’s invasion of Lebanon (Palestine-Israeli Conflict) and America’s support to Israel, which led to the bombing of its embassies in Lebanon. Iran’s support of Islamic groups which have conducted many terror acts across the world also amounts to global terrorism (Piazza, 2013). This report will give an analysis of global trends in various regions, the factors increasing global terrorism and also discuss counterterrorism efforts.

Variations/Trends of Terrorism across Regions

Global terrorism has spread across the world, showing varying trends across the many regions. Global Terrorism Index (2018) provides a short summary on the patterns and trends of terrorism in the world. It lists the countries that are most affected by terrorism in order, from the least affected to most affected. ISIS and Taliban continue to be the most feared and dangerous groups that made areas such as Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq have the most fatalities and therefore feature in the list of nations most affected by terrorism.

a) Afghanistan

Afghanistan was rated as the first in the list of countries affected by terrorism. The country had started having a period of stabilization but in 2018, things deteriorated. 16 of the worst attacks hit Afghanistan with 12 of them being done by the Taliban – this made the region be the most affected by terrorism (Dudley, 2018). Additionally, in 2018, the country’s terrorism situation was so bad that Afghanistan experienced 46% of the world’s terrorist-related deaths (Dudley, 2018). The deaths from this criminal act are said to have gone up by 631% since 2008. Hence its top position in the countries that are most affected by terrorism.

b) Iraq

Following up closely is Iraq – which is a country that has featured so often in terrorist-related cases. In 2018, the number of deaths in the country fell by a whole 75% as the government in partnership with international ones pushed back the Islamic State out of the country. The terrorist incidents decreased and so did the fatalities, from 2.2 deaths recorded in 2017 to 0.9 deaths in the following year (Dudley, 2018). However, things took a serious turn in the same 2018 seeing how dangerous the terrorists are. Over 1000 people died and 1723 injuries were recorded in the year to have been caused by terrorism. This still puts it as a top country in the list of those countries with the worst cases of terrorism. However, with its minimum improvements, at least the country is no longer topping that list. Analysts have speculated that it may not be permanent since the Islamic State or other groups may target the country in future.

c) Nigeria

Africa has not been spared from the list of countries most affected by terrorism – Global terrorism, after all, cuts across all regions. Nigeria is found in West Africa. In 2018, the country was said to account for around 13% of the terrorist-related fatalities in the world with an increased 33% of these deaths from 2017 (2040 deaths and over 770 injuries caused by terrorism) (Dudley, 2018). The country is known for an infamous terrorist group, Boko Haram, which has attacked, killed, injured and kidnapped civilians in the hope of intimidating the people and the government. The group even abducted a group of students. A task force put up by the Nigerian Government in collaboration with Niger, Chad and Cameroon was put up to push the group out of the country and it saw the reduction of deaths in 2018. Other terrorist groups continue to threaten Nigeria’s national security. Some extremist Fulani groups are now more active and they caused over 1000 deaths in 2018 as compared to Boko Haram’s 589 deaths (Dudley, 2018). With these two groups in the country, Nigeria features among the countries that are worst affected by terrorism in the world with the two groups causing around 80% of the attacks and 86% terrorist-related deaths in a single year. This increase in terrorism in the country is what led to Sub-Saharan region to surpass the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region and be the second most affected place after South Asia in terms of terrorism (Global Terrorism Index, 2018). The part of Africa is said to have had the second highest fatalities from terrorist attacks. Other parts of Africa that have experienced worst cases of terrorism include DRC. The government continues to counter the groups to date.

d) Somalia

The country is found in Eastern region of Africa. Though the deaths and injuries from terrorism were reported to have gone down in 2018, Somalia is still one of the most affected countries in the GTI list. Dudley (2018) states that two terrorist groups, Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab are reported to be behind the attacks. 646 people died and over 600 were injured in the over 280 terrorist incidents that happened in the country last year. Al-Shabaab is the most dangerous terrorist group in the region having caused over 90% of the deaths in 2018 (Dudley, 2018). The US and its forces and the African Union have been leading peacekeeping missions to help fight off the group. A third terrorist group called Jabha East Africa has also been responsible for lesser terrorist incidents and fatalities (Dudley, 2018). Countries in the region, such as Kenya, have been helping to fight off the terrorists, more so Al-Shabaab, the most notorious group.

e) Pakistan

In South East Asia, a country that has suffered significant terrorist attacks is Pakistan. It was reported that the incidents have been decreasing over the last five years, but still the country is among the five top deadliest nations when it comes to violence from non-state actors and organizations. In 2018, over 1000 people were injured and more than 500 of them killed as a result of the 366 attacks launched by terrorists (Dudley, 2018). Though these figures are shocking, it is believed that the country experienced the worst terrorist cases in 2013. The terrorist group that threaten’s Pakistan’s peace is the Khorasan Chapter of Islamic State, that accounted for over 250 deaths in 2018 (Dudley, 2018). The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan group follows next and a third one, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi also threatens the country’s national security, accounting for two attacks in 2018 (Dudley, 2018). Thus, South East Asia, proves to be a region highly affected by terrorism.

f) Yemen

Closely following in the list is Yemen, a Middle East country. Yemen has been a war zone and unstable region for many years now, and terrorism is in the middle of it all. In 2015, the country experienced a total of 1500 deaths from terrorist attacks. Though the number has fallen since then to only 301 people dead and 325 injured, the region is still highly affected by terrorism (Dudley, 2018). The groups include a team of Houthi rebels who have been fighting against President Hadi’s government and the patron in Saudi Arabia (caused half of the deaths in 2018), Al-Qaeda and Adan=Abyan Province of the Islamic State (Dudley, 2018). The country is still experiencing many civil conflicts regardless of the peacekeeping missions and counterterrorism efforts, making Yemen feature in the GTI list of nations that are highly affected by terrorism.

Factors Increasing/Causing Global Terrorism

Despite countries making efforts to counter terrorism in their regions and tightening their security, there has been an increase in the attacks in the last decade. Countries have suffered mass deaths, loss of property worth billions and disruption of their infrastructure because of terrorists. There are factors that have contributed to the spike in terrorist incidents around the globe. In particular, the biggest cause of terrorism is the psycho-pathological leadership of nations, wherein some of the leaders tolerate and propagate the terrorism ideologies (Njoku, 2021). Normalizing the acts of terrorism and presenting them in a guise can be detrimental especially where leaders intend to gain from the chaos that ensues.

Inequality or deprivation perceptions among groups defined by culture is also another factor that leads to global terrorism. Most of the individuals who engage in the terrorism activities believe that they have been deprived of some resources endowed to others. Precisely, global terrorism is often associated with the negative urge to address the deprivation of some sectors in a means of drawing attention to these areas. Another perspective is that the terrorists often attempt to create equality in terms of governance (Permana & Adam). For instance, some of the terrorist groups believe that they have been deprived of equal status from other societies that hold more bureaucratic power. Such notions lead the terrorist to attack the places with such power and progress to assert the aspect of equality. Nevertheless, the terrorist approach is wrong and unacceptable despite the motivations behind such activities.

The inadequacy of political continuity and legitimacy also contributes to global terrorism. Most of the areas where terrorists conduct their operations do not have proper integration in the political structure. A niche is created due to the discontinuity of the political realm leading to external forces and pressures to fill the niche (Lia & Skjølberg, 2022). For instance, the Taliban terrorist group recently captured the Afghanistan jurisdiction in an attempt to fill in the power niche in this country. It should not be forgotten that this group was involved in the 9/11 attacks and, thus, its grip of power may exacerbate the rate of terrorism around the world. Therefore, nations that lack a legitimate and continuous governance often face the vulnerability of terrorist attacks.

Conversely, terrorism is also increased by dominance in the international systems by some actors. These actors are often the leading forces of the world and are viewed to dictate how the affairs of the world are run. Accordingly, global terrorism is often a backlash of the efforts towards modernization and globalization intended by the dominant actors in the international arena. This reason can be used to explain some of the most catastrophic attacks conducted on the first world nations of the world.

Since terrorism is conducted for various purposes, religious dominance also motivates terrorist activities. It goes without saying that religious terrorism is one of the rampant forms of terrorism conducted in the modern world. This position is attributed to the disparate approaches taken by the varying religions and religious groups on matters such as morality and religious practice. Some of the more ardent and conservative religious groups may feel that others are lenient and a mockery to the superior being (Lia & Skjølberg, 2022). In such situations, the former attempts to conduct an activity that will extinguish the latter to ensure that “religious righteousness” is achieved. For instance, some of the most renowned terrorist activities, such as the Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando, are pegged on the perspective that some religions have marred the required moral lines. However, the terrorist approach is extreme and highly unfair in an era of rule of law and respect for human rights.

Global terrorism is also heightened by acts that are conducted in response to violent acts. The inspiration behind such attacks is vengeance and the strive to revenge former acts of violence. A renowned example of this factor is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that takes the form of a tit-for-tat (Lia & Skjølberg, 2022). Such attacks take place repeatedly thus causing disruptions to the world order and peace as other nations are also affected directly or indirectly. This situation leads to an endless cycle of attacks between countries as they are unable to foster peace within themselves and their neighbors. Some of the terrorist activities conducted in the United States have also been a result of the previous attacks on the terrorist countries in an attempt of ending the activities. Overall, the acts of revenge can be mitigated by peaceful and mutual peace keeping missions and negotiations between the nations involved in the conflict.


The preceding discourse is an eye opener for the heightened level of global terrorism around the world. As a consequence, various efforts have been undertaken to prevent future terrorist activities. The efforts are also placed on the detection of the on-going plans of executing terrorism in the world. One of the best ways that has been adopted to combat the terrorist activities is through intergovernmental alliances. Such alliances ensure that the efforts are directed from a regional force, which reduces the efficacy of terrorist activities around the world. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) can educate, develop policies, and train the military individuals on the means of handling cases of terrorism (Bird, 2019). Not only do the intergovernmental alliances require cooperation from countries from a military perspective, but also in other sectors such as the economic and diplomatic perspectives.

Once the intergovernmental alliance cooperates towards counterterrorism efforts, the states should establish a committee that oversees matters of counterterrorism. Setting up a committee is essential in fighting terrorism as it ensures specific attention is drawn in this regard. Specifically, the committee should be charged with establishing the relevant policies that ca be used to handle the intelligence received about any terrorism plans or attacks. NATO can also establish the capacity building for civilian individuals to prevent any acts of terrorism in the region (Bird, 2019). It is noteworthy that such efforts must be complemented by diplomacy and other financing aspects.

Undoubtedly, the international cooperation is necessary to ensure that the levels of terrorism are reduced. It involves ensuring that the terrorists are subjected to the criminal justice system and punished for their crimes accordingly. Furthermore, different nations of the world should embody the principles of giving up the terrorists and refusing to create a safe haven where they can get away with the atrocities they cause. One of the main issues that hinders the enforcement of terrorist combat is the lack of honoring extradition requests, as it exempts the terrorists from the criminal justice systems (Rosand, 2020). This position also applies to the states that have weak prison systems and other centers as they are unable to hold the prisoners for long before they actually escape. Therefore, alliances between the nations of the world to combat the terrorist activities can go a long way in fighting global terrorism.

Another means through which global terrorism can be combated is prohibiting and regulating the production of weapons of mass destruction. Recently, there has been heat between nations on the production of such weapons as they are deemed to be highly detrimental especially when they fall into the wrong hands (Rosand, 2020). For instance, it goes without saying that should terrorists land the nuclear weapons, they can cause grave damage to the modern society. The modern world nations are calling to each other to prevent the production of such weapons due to the risk they possess. In other words, the adage, “prevention is better than cure,” is of key significance in fighting the production of the weapons of mass destruction.

The 9/11 attacks were a major wake up call for the United States and other nations of the world. One way in which the US established a guarantee for its interior security is by establishing the Department of Homeland Security that interrogates and collates intelligence regarding terrorist activities within the nation. Although the DHS is not a total guarantee against terrorism in the United States, the citizenry can work and live safely without fear that an unforeseen terrorist attack will take place. One of the global efforts that can be undertaken to fight the acts of terrorism is establishing a global department of homeland security. This position means that a single entity can be created to monitor the intelligence and affairs of people suspected to be involved in the acts of terrorism around the world. Creating the global intelligence entity would ensure that the world is aware of the movements of individuals suspected of terrorism and is also certain of the means to prevent suspected operations.


Indeed, global terrorism is an ongoing issue in the world poses a threat to modernization and progress. It poses such risks by endangering the lives of people as well as their property. Some of the most vulnerable areas exposed to the risk of terrorism include the societies with weak state structures and the those engaged in the democratic transitions. Further, the weak and collapsed states that have ongoing wars also contributed to the terrorist activities. Some examples of such states include the countries in the middle east such as Iran, Afghanistan, and Palestine. Some of the causes of terrorism include political discontinuity and illegitimacy, deprivation perceptions and inequality, and religious dominance perceptions. Consequently, several efforts have been undertaken to curb the occurrence of global terrorism such as the prohibition of production of weapons of mass destruction. Other steps undertaken include formation of intergovernmental alliances and establishment of intelligence agencies. These steps ensure that the plans, operations, and attacks by terrorists are anticipated and possibly prevented.


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Njoku, E. T. (2021). Queering terrorism. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 1-23.

Global Terrorism Index 2018(GTI). (2018). Measuring and understanding the impact of terrorism. Institute for Economics and Peace.

Piazza, J. A. (2013). Regime age and terrorism: Are new democracies prone to terrorism?. International Interactions39(2), 246-263.

Permana, I. M., & Adam, F. Factors Causing the Emergence of Understanding Terrorism in Historical Overview.

Rosand, E. (2020). Preparing the Global Counterterrorism Forum for the Next Decade. United States Institute of Peace.

Lia, & Skjølberg. (2022). Causes of Terrorism: An Expanded and Updated Review of the Literature – GSDRC. GSDRC. Retrieved 27 January 2022, from

Bird, J. (2019, May 16). Working with partners to counter terrorism.

Dudley, D. (2019, November 20). Terrorist Targets: The Ten Countries Which Suffer Most From Terrorism. Forbes.

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